Capitol seeks Balili discount - Cebu Circle | Cebu City, Philippines

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Capitol seeks Balili discount

04/06/2010 - GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia wants an administrative investigation on the appraisal committee involved in the purchase of the Balili property, as well as a reduction of the P98-million purchase price.

She anchored her moves on a report submitted by the executive committee created to investigate the purchase.

A separate report by the Cebu Provincial Board (PB) dominated yes-terday’s session, where party lines were clearly drawn.

Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. and PB Member Victoria Corominas submitted separate reports where they recommended rescinding the contract.

Their comments will be attached to the report the PB will forward to the Office of the Ombudsman, which is also investigating the transaction.

Like the executive committee, the PB’s majority also recommended working for a reduction of the purchase price.

The Province paid P400 per square meter of the former resort, which totaled 247,330 sq.m. It later found out that 80,194 sq.m. were underwater, while 14,402 sq.m. were mangrove lands.

Governor Garcia signed a memorandum addressed to the Committee on Discipline and Investigation (CODI), for the administrative investigation of members of the Cebu Provincial Appraisal Committee (CPAC).

They are Provincial Assessor Anthony Sususco, Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre and Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre.

Members of the CODI will have to be changed, though, because one of the members also belongs to the CPAC. Capitol consultant on information and revenue generation
Rory Jon Sepulveda would not reveal who.

The specific reason was not cited, but the governor’s order was based on the recommendation by the executive committee formed to investigate the Balili land purchase. National Bureau of Investigation 7 Director Medardo de Lemos headed it.

Sepulveda said the reasons were discussed in the report the executive panel made, but he could not elaborate yet because it would be unfair to members of the CPAC who have yet to receive a copy.

Sepulveda is a member of the panel along with Atty. Manolette Dinsay, Provincial Planning and Development Office Chief Adolfo Quiroga and PB Members Peter John Calderon, Victor Maambong and Agnes Magpale.

The investigation report by the panel also has its own recommendation on the participation of PB Member Juan Bolo in the P98-million transaction.

It was Bolo who first brought up the property to Garcia.

Another memorandum signed by Garcia ordered Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla to file the appropriate complaint in court for the reduction of the purchase price.

The governor’s directive was also based on a recommendation of the panel.

At the PB, minority members Sanchez and Corominas submitted their comments on the legislative committee’s report. They want the contract rescinded.

Corominas said the report was a mere chronological narration of the events that led to the purchase of the Balili property for P98,926,800.

“The report is evasive and wanting in some material points as it deliberately fell short in mentioning the manifest violations of law relative to the purchase of the said property that could have been the essential gist of the report,” Corominas wrote.

She said the report contained “the pretense that its main thrust is for curative legislation and not punitive in nature.”

The ad hoc committee chairperson, PB Member Joven Mondigo Jr., prepared the report, with the concurrence of co-chairman Alfredo Ouano.

Corominas noted the decision to buy the property came before its practical use was even thought of.

This was also the concern of Sanchez, who told the board an economic zone will not be viable in the property.

“The Province, being the trustee and managing agent of the people’s money, is tasked to exercise due diligence and extreme care and caution in all its transactions,” stated Corominas.

She recommended that copies of the report and all pertinent documents be forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, because it can better act on the controversy and identify who should be held liable.

Sanchez filed a resolution for rescission, but submitted it as a separate report attached to Mondigo’s report because he was sure that it would not be approved by the board.

The rest of the members of the board, except for Bolo who is officially independent, are either members of or allied with One Cebu.

Sanchez asked so many questions during the discussion of the report that PB Member Wilfredo Caminero was prompted to ask the presiding officer to relinquish his seat, so the will not have an advantage in the debate.

Calderon concurred.

But Sanchez refused to step down and said he was merely asking for clarifications.

Sanchez raised a letter he received, in which a group of real estate brokers reportedly estimated the Balili property to be worth only P65 million.

The letter, dated 2003, was not raised during the Balii investigation, which lasted a few months.

Mondigo told Sanchez the letter could not be given credence because the brokers never appeared before the PB.

Calderon also said it could not be ascertained if the letters were made under oath.

Calderon pointed out that Sanchez could not ask new questions because the agenda was to discuss the committee report and the issues Sachez raised yesterday were not tackled in the report (Sunstar)

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