P450 Million Tagbilaran City Loan Approved

By Kit Bagaipo, Bohol Chronicle
City lawmakers on Friday granted an authority for Mayor Dan Lim to proceed with negotiations for a P450 million loan to finance three major infrastructure projects.

The approval came not without objections as Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso and three councilors in the minority bloc maintain reservations on such loan application.

Majority of the lawmakers however pushed for the granting of the authorization together with two other measures requested by the mayor to be taken up during the SP regular session on Friday as special order of the day.

The approval of the authorization, under Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) Resolution No. 65-08, was opposed by Veloso and Kagawads Anne Mariquit Oppus, Zenaido Rama and Bebiano Inting.

The vice mayor and three councilors wanted the loan authorization be deferred for further deliberations of the SP constituted as a committee of the whole, together with the two other measures.

In his letter to the SP last Wednesday, Lim modified his previous request for authority to negotiate a loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in the amount of P500 million to P1 billion. The loan to be entered into by the city government will now be P450 million instead.

The mayor earlier retracted the prior request citing that it was used for grandstanding by his political opponents in the guise of scrutinizing the loan.

The P450 million will be used to finance the planned Centralized Water Treatment Facility, Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility and road concreting projects.

In the same letter of the mayor, the SP was likewise requested to approve Supplemental Budget No. 3 in the amount of P22.2 million and the ratification of an P8 million loan with DBP for the re-fleeting of city government vehicles.

No amount of objections coming from the SP's minority bloc could stop the majority of councilors allied with Lim from approving the three requests of the mayor.

Kagawads Oscar Glovasa and Danilo Bantugan argued during the session that there was no time to waste in deferring the approval of the loan authorization, the supplemental budget and the ratification of the P8 million loan terms and conditions.

Kagawads Oppus, Rama, Inting and Lucio Balbin manifested their intent to refer the mayor's requests to the SP committee as a whole but were out-voted.

There were objections raised on the supplemental fund and the details of its utilization.

When the three measures were presented for approval, Balbin voted with the majority.

Bantugan explained that the three measures had already been deliberated upon during meetings with majority lawmakers.

He said this was done in consultation with the mayor who is only asking for an authority in connection with the loan application.

"We have a working alliance of city councilors who want to reach a consensus through consultations and discussions together with the mayor," Bantugan said.

The 450 million loan is still subject for negotiation and the review of the bank.

Meanwhile, Glovasa pointed out that the supplemental fund requested was to be used largely for rice subsidy of city government employees.

He said the rice subsidy is authorized by a presidential order as long as this is sourced out of savings from maintenance and operating expenses of a local government unit.

Glovasa cited savings coming from the different offices of the city government which justifies the subsidy coming from the supplemental budget.

"We are now in the implementation phase of the integrated solid waste management facility, the waste water treatment plant and the road concreting project," Glovasa added since the projects were already approved by the SP and the City Development Council.