Wednesday, January 13, 2016

iNQUIRER: Taxpayers ask court to stop P300-M DBP loan to Marinduque

“The proposed use of the DBP loan for farm-to-market roads and construction of the buildings is unnecessary and irregular as this will clearly duplicate the same infrastructure projects funded by certain national government agencies.”



A group of taxpayers has asked the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) to nullify a P300-million loan deal entered into by the provincial government of Marinduque with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), saying the beneficiary projects have already been funded by national government agencies.

In an 11-page petition filed on Dec. 28 last year in the Makati RTC Branch 145, the group sought the issuance of an injunction order to prevent the release of the fund.

The petitioners included former Marinduque Gov. Aristeo M. Lecaroz; former Mayor Pedrito Nepomuceno of Boac town, Marinduque; retired Philippine National Police chief Recaredo Sarmiento II; Eliseo J. Obligacion and Milton Mendoza.

60-day suspension

Gov. Carmencita Reyes signed the 10-year loan contract with DBP on Oct. 20, 2015, or 12 days after she was ordered suspended for 60 days by Sandiganbayan in relation to her alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Reyes was named respondent in the petition, along with Vice Gov. Romulo Bacorro, Jr. and members of the provincial board.

Most of the P300-million loan was allocated for the rehabilitation of 26 farm-to-market access roads, a copy of the project list obtained by the Inquirer showed.

Some P35 million would be spent for the improvement of the Edmundo Reyes Sr. Recreational Center and Sports Complex, while P15 million would go to the construction of a "doctor's dormitory."

The dormitory would be a "wellness center" intended to encourage doctors to work and stay on the island, provincial planning officer Eleuterio Raza said in a phone interview on Monday.

According to the petitioners, Marinduque has a surplus money of P105,933,256,93 as of 2014.

"There is thus absolutely no reason why Marinduque should be exposed to a loan obligation, which it does not need," they said.



Duplication


They claimed that some of the projects proposed in the loan contract were already funded  by other government agencies.

“The proposed use of the DBP loan for farm-to-market roads and construction of the buildings is unnecessary and irregular as this will clearly duplicate the same infrastructure projects funded by certain national government agencies,” the complaint read.

For instance, a 3.5-kilometer farm-to-market road project in Barangay Cabugao in Gasan town already has a P10-million allocation from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“The same place, the same (road) length will be funded [through the DBP loan] for P14-P15 million,” Gasan Mayor Victoria Lim said in a separate phone interview.

Raza, who was the provincial administrator when the loan contract was signed, denied any irregularity, saying the state funds could be “realigned” to other priority projects of the province to avoid duplication.

Local government units have options as to when or how to spend their savings, he said.

“We have to do it now to increase agricultural productivity,” Raza said. - INQUIRER

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