Rampant Tagbilaran City Hall Graft and Corruption?

"You will be wondering why the platform of eradication of graft and corruption is our no. 1 platform. This is one important aspect of governance in which the present city administration has miserably failed."

With these words, city vice mayor Jorge Cabalit opened his 14-point platform of governance during Friday's mayoralty forum organized by the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and held at the Bohol Tropics Resort.

"Efforts of the present administration to reduce if not eradicate graft and corruption in the city government have been superficial and insignificant," stressed Cabalit, sounding hell bent on bringing down something giant.

Cabalit, who spoke after Cogon barangay captain and Association of Barangay Captains president Betty Torralba's (wife of city mayor Joe Torralba) turn, said that what the present administration had done so far was creating a new bidding and awards committee.

"There are no significant measures to address graft and corruption," Cabalit reiterated even as he cited the Bohol Poll 2003 survey results which gave a -17 rating to the city government's efforts to fight against graft.


During the open forum, however, Cabalit was asked to clarify his claims on graft and corruption in an administration in which he has been part of.

"I am now in the opposition," Cabalit said curtly.

He said since he broke up with the administration, he has been supporting to the creation of the independent composite evaluation team (ICET) who looks into the alleged irregularity in the construction of the new City Hall, and the creation of an ad hoc body who would probe the alleged bidding anomalies at City Hall.


The vice-mayor, once accused by mayor Torralba as "destitute and senile," reiterated his opposition against the 48-hectare bay reclamation.

"Hindi ako nag-iisa (I am not alone)," he said, rebutting mayor Torralba's earlier claims that Cabalit was the lone oppositor to the controversial project.

Cabalit stressed the recla-mation, aside from being hazardous to the environment, would eventually kill tourism.

"Definitely, the Cabalit-Clarin team has the slogan, ‘Save Our City By The Bay," Cabalit said.


Meantime, Mrs. Torralba would push for her STRENGTH platform, which stands for Security, Tourism, Renewal, Education, Employment, Natural Resources Management, Good Governance, Trade and Health and Housing.

BCCI sources, commenting on Mrs. Torralba's speech, said it was somewhat a continuation of her husband's Feb. 9 state of the city address (SOCA).

"Well, more or less, she and her husband have the same mind framework, perhaps of the same speech writer," a BCCI official said on condition of anonymity. "What can you expect?"

The mayor's wife said that within the first year of her administration, whenever she is elected into office, she would bat for the creation of an Economic Enterprise Department "so we can better manage all of the City's enterprises…"

Some of her legislative agenda included, among others, the creation of a Citywide Crime Watch Brigade; creation of City Investment Board; City Cooperatives and People's Initiatives Development Office; and full implementation of the Coastal Resource Management Plan.

"We shall see to it that the local government will be a helping hand as each individual fulfills his potentials and break free from the shackles of poverty," Mrs. Torralba concluded.


Former OIC mayor Dan Lim did not attend the forum.

Through an advance notice, Lim explained he shunned discussions on political issues as the official campaign trail is yet to start on March 25.

He said that had he attended the forum, he could have not avoided touching on sensitive political issues.

Lim however said he was looking forward to a multi-sectoral forum, together with the mayoralty bets, to be held on March 25. - 2004 News Archive - Bohol Chronicle