Friday, October 23, 2015

The insanity of Gov. Carmencita Reyes' midnight loan. Fellow Marinduquenos, don't be fooled again!

View of farm in Torrijos, Marinduque
Recent blogs posted here are about the P300-M midnight loan signed by and between Gov. Carmencita Reyes of Marinduque and Joel G. Jalbuena, DBP Branch Head, Lucena City.

This deal is truly insane. Here's why:

Reyes has been suspended for a period of 60 days by the Sandiganbayan as she faces graft and technical malversation in connection with the infamous fertilizer fund scam. The order was promulgated on October 8, 2015.

Not heeding the Court order, Reyes resurrected a proposed loan that has been allowed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to sleep in the floorboards for more than a year now. 

Previous loan proposals for "priority development projects" in 2012 and 2014, were characterized by ever-changing project proposals and their corresponding figures to the extent that civil society and some provincial officials themselves could apparently see through a brewing deception. 

Consequently, these proposals were not actively pursued.

An example of previous proposals is a loan for the rehabilitation of the Marinduque Airport to which the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Civil Aviation Office (CAA) have already allocated funds for the same purpose. Another example is the "revival" of a scholarship program using the said loan, a program to which any sitting congressman's office allocates funds from PDAF.

In the matter concerning DOTC's implementation of said airport rehabilitation, a graft case in the Ombudsman was filed earlier this year against Reyes and several other officials "for blocking the delivery of gravel to be used in completing the airport strip" despite DOTC's granting of all permits. A rare case of a provincial government blocking a vital national government airport rehab project.  

The said complaint was filed by officials of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), and Melencio Go, a former SB member and president of a construction firm.

WHY THE SUDDEN RUSH TO SIGN THE LOAN?

Now the rush for actual signing of the P300-M loan deal for "construction/rehabilitation/improvement of provincial road networks/farm to market roads" (P250-M) and "construction/repair/improvement of public buildings and facilities" (P50-M).

It has become apparent that an authority to negotiate with any government bank, but not an authority to enter into a contract, was issued through a resolution by the provincial board on May 14, 2014.

Yet, on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, Gov. Carmencita Reyes, Vice-Gov. Romulo Bacorro, Jr., Vice-President Abelardo Monarquia and Joel G. Jalbueno of DBP signed the loan agreement in the presence of barangay and municipal and other officials.

This is the single biggest loan agreement the Marinduque government has entered into in its 95 years of history as a province. (A P-75-Million loan facility for purchase of heavy-equipment for provincial road construction and maintenance was contracted with Landbank in 2008. Part of the heavy equipment was left rotting in the Bureau of Customs, yet the governor earlier proposed inclusion of another P75-Million for heavy-equipment, but that's another story.)

THIS IS INSANE. MARINDUQUE, LET'S NOT BE FOOLED AGAIN!

Could it be that the governor of Marinduque raced and rushed to sign the agreement with Development Bank of the Philippines precisely because there are funds already allocated by the national government for such Provincial Road Networks in the country?

If so, this midnight loan signed on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, a time when the governor of Marinduque is under suspension order by Sandiganbayan is not only untimely or shocking in view of all the foregoing, and what might be considered insane or rotten! Read on.

2016 KALSADA PROGRAM

It turns out that only recently DBM launched the KALSADA Program, a P6.5-billion program allocated for road development projects in the country. The provincial government of Marinduque is fully aware of the program and correspondence with the relevant offices undertaken.

P6.5 billion from the national government precisely for the same purpose as the salivating loan. The fund according to DBM is for "the rehabilitation and upgrading of provincial roads...the development of each provinces' Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) and a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of provincial roads".

It allows each province an average of 61.5 kilometers of road rehabilitation, 24.6 kilometers for improvement works, and 12.3 kilometers for upgrading.

Rappler:
On Thursday, August 6, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) launched the Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran (KALSADA), a proposed P6.5-billion ($142 million) program allocated for road development projects in the country.
The fund, which will be part of the 2016 National Expenditure Plan will be allotted for "the rehabilitation and upgrading of provincial roads, the transfer of these road assets permanently to provincial government balance sheets as assets and for maintenance, the development of each provinces’ Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) and a mechanism of monitoring and evaluation of provincial roads,” the DBM said.
In its project briefer, the DBM explained that provincial roads are the largest and most important asset being managed by provincial local governments. These road networks link national roads to areas of economic development, allow access to basic services, and serve as important conduits during conflict, crises and calamities.
The project allows each province an average of 61.5 kilometers of road for rehabilitation, 24.6 kilometers for improvement works, and 12.3 kilometers for upgrading.
 Starting from 10 pilot provinces in 2007 with the help of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the program scales this up to 73 provinces. (Full story below:)
Time to totally reject such insanity. Huwag nang pumayag na magisa sa sariling mantika again and again! 
"Insanity is knowing that what you're doing is completely idiotic, but still, somehow, you just can't stop it.".― Elizabeth WurtzelProzac Nation
MANILA, Philippines – Is the Philippines finally on its way to having better roads in the provinces?
On Thursday, August 6, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) launched the Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran (KALSADA), a proposed P6.5-billion ($142 million) program allocated for road development projects in the country.
The fund, which will be part of the 2016 National Expenditure Plan will be allotted for "the rehabilitation and upgrading of provincial roads, the transfer of these road assets permanently to provincial government balance sheets as assets and for maintenance, the development of each provinces’ Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) and a mechanism of monitoring and evaluation of provincial roads,” the DBM said.
In its project briefer, the DBM explained that provincial roads are the largest and most important asset being managed by provincial local governments. These road networks link national roads to areas of economic development, allow access to basic services, and serve as important conduits during conflict, crises and calamities.
The project allows each province an average of 61.5 kilometers of road for rehabilitation, 24.6 kilometers for improvement works, and 12.3 kilometers for upgrading.
Starting from 10 pilot provinces in 2007 with the help of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the program scales this up to 73 provinces.
A challenge to LGUs
The project, according to the DBM, will be performance-based. Provinces that “meet good governance standards, social development benchmarks, and established monitoring and evaluation mechanisms” will be able to tap the budget.
“Two criteria to determine how much each one will be getting – it’s the matter of performance and readiness,” DILG undersecretary Austere Panadero said.
These include checking on whether a province “[for] the past several years has been able to deliver on the road maintenance programs,” Panadero explained. The province's capacity to generate income will also be taken into consideration.
When it comes to readiness, it is important to consider a province’s ability to carry out its projects.
“It is an expectation of the national government na kailangan talagang pabilisin yung pagsagawa ng infrastructure projects. Hindi naman po siguro mapapabilis ito kung hindi handa ang ating mga burukrasya para ito ay gagawin,” said Panadero.
(It is an expectation of the national government [that local government units (LGUs)] can fast-track these infrastructure projects. Projects couldn’t be fast-tracked if the bureaucracy isn’t ready.)
He also said they are trying to avoid instances when huge amounts of funds are given to a province, without resulting outputs.
Together with the DILG and DFAT, provinces that are deemed ready for the project will have the chance to utilize the allotted budget.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad said the main purpose of the project is to empower LGUs when it comes to governance, saying that the national government has been providing basic services that LGUs should be providing in the first place.
“These are projects, but for us, these are [also] occasions to improve governance, occasions to build the capacity. Because if you can do that, you can begin to unload the government of the functions that belong to the LGUs and for the national government to focus on its national core mandates,” said Abad.
“I think you ease the burden on the national government and you facilitate the implementation of the projects. You’ve been hearing about the underspending problems of the national government,” he added.
Submission of requirements
Starting third week of August to September 11, LGUs will be asked to submit requirements that will show they are able to meet the standards set by the DBM.
LGUs that do not meet the criteria will instead be asked to avail of the capacity-building component, which has a budget of P74.5 million ($1.6 million).
Hindi komo walang kakayahan, ay pababayaan. (Just because there is no capability, they will be left to themselves.) There is a capacity-building component to this program,” Panadero said.
The DILG will then start working with the United Nations Development Programme for the next steps, such as listing down of amounts each province can utilize.
“So that if we go to the Congress, this is not going to be a lump sum. This is going to be listed down by province –magkano po ang kayang gawin (at sigurado po tayong) kayang gawin?” (So that if we go to the Congress, this is not going to be a lump sum. This is going to be listed down by province – how much can they [and we are sure they can] utilize?)
Gimmick?
The project will help the country do away with patronage-politics according to Abad, saying that it “has been one of the reasons why poverty and underdevelopment pervades in [the] country.”
He also denied allegations that the project is just a gimmick for the upcoming 2016 elections.
“We would like to ask your help because I’ll be facing the House of Representatives and explaining to them the budget. I hope that you can help us explain to your legislators what this is all about and what the objective intended for the local government is. I think if we can do that, then we can minimize all of this name-calling, all of those baseless insinuations that are being actually leaned on to the program,” said Abad. Rappler.com

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