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Mabilog’s extravagance


BY PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper

June 5, Sunday, Reklamo Publiko of Danny Fajardo made a debut at Amigo Terrace Hotel ending its decade-stint at Sarabia Manor Hotel.

He decided to do so to spare himself the stress of having to hold his punches of hitting Rep. Jerry Treñas of the lone district of Iloilo City and, more, to avoid offending the owners of the hotel, the congressman’s wife, Rosalie, being one of them.

That singular act of the talk show host Fajardo bodes ill for Treñas and ally Iloilo Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. Both are now magnets of attacks from the press which could intensify as 2013 nears.

From day one that they assumed power, the media have relentlessly rained unflattering commentaries on them, for corruption in particular. Treñas has been severely blackeyed by the housing scandal at Pavia where not one of the 415 low cost housing units at the cost of P120 million was completed.

Instead of hauling the erring contractor to court or seizing its surety bonds, Treñas burdened his people further by transferring conduit banks, from the Philippine National Bank (PNP) to Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB).

PNB is less than 500 meters to the nearest PVB branch but it cost city taxpayers P12 million just to process the transfer which ballooned their indebtedness to P132 million.

City taxpayers are paying P17,000 daily just to repay the interests of the housing loan, thanks to Rep. Treñas whose nine years as mayor showed no sign of inching Iloilo closer to the stature of “premier city” or “Queen City of the South” that was his campaign promise in 2001.

He insists that his “greatest” project is the P6-million floodway from Pavia through Jaro. The flood control was the brainchild of Sen. Franklin Drilon and Mayor Mansueto Malabor which was recommended by the NEDA way back in 1998, the latter’s third and last term as mayor (1998-2001).

The COA reports that in the last term of Mayor Jerry Treñas, some P800 million of expenditures in capital outlay and equipment cannot be located or lack proper documentation. Barcelo-Sarabia Hotel in the same period reverted to its original name Sarabia Manor Hotel and no longer saddled by a P700-million arrears from Banco PI.

The rapacity of Treñas however drags his ally Mayor Mabilog along with him. The ghost of extravagance haunts both of them. Treñas picked an architect who he said would design city “for free”.

Councilor Tony Pesina was shocked when he learned that Treñas paid the architect P12 M. The council though did not make a noise which only shows collusion.

The plan to erect a city hall was hatched in 2001. The budget for that, P450 million, a loan from Land Bank, was approved in 2003. Treñas demolished the old city hall in 2007.

In other cities, demolition of old structures is publicly bid to the contractor paying the highest price and gets all the salvaged materials in exchange. In Iloilo City, it’s the opposite: the city government offered cash and the bidder who offered the lowest lost.

Actually, the lowest bidder, at P800,000, was declared winner. Treñas revoked the public bidding and directly negotiated with an unknown contractor who charged the city P1.2 million.

And what happened to the beams, cables, steel frames and bars, wooden beams, glasses, galvanized sheets, from the demolished structure? They could have fetched P5 to 7 million in the scrap market.

They were brought to a bodega in Mandurriao and nothing since then were heard of them. The men and women of the august body, the so-called, city council, were mum on this thievery, indicating collusion.

City residents and the press nowadays have become vigilant, perhaps, having already tasted too much of it. The saga of extravagance that began with Treñas is being continued by his successor with success, well, almost.

Treñas left the city in shambles, unable to finished the new city structure which at P350 million already spent, still remains skeletal. Some P85 million is standing by for its completion which Mabilog wants to jack with another loan of P260 million.

Mabilog shelved the original plan of establishing a parking lot at the 2nd floor. He wants to buy a 3,000- square-meter lot for parking space for P35 M and erect a statue of you-don’t-know-what or -who for P15 M.

Mabilog has been blackeyed for his extravagance but he continues to ignore critics.

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