By Pet Melliza/The Beekeeper
One year after the “closure” of the so-called Pavia housing scandal, its ghosts still squirm inside the closet.
The last term of Mayor Mansueto Malabor (1998-2001) floated bonds to raise P120 million to erect 413 houses at the lot along the national road at Pavia town. The property was owned by Iloilo City which wanted to a village for its employees.
The succeeding administration of Mayor Jerry Trenas implemented the project. However before the end of his term (2001-2004), subcontractors withdrew and chorused that they were constrained to use substandard materials because the contractor, Ace Builders Enterprises (ABE), gave them only a pittance.
Before the May 2004 elections, three criminal complaints rained on Trenas et al. He still got reelected for two more terms in which he faithfully paid the delinquent contractor up to P90 million despite the substandard works. Not a single house was completed; the contractor fled and laughed its way to the bank.
The city government under Trenas did not even bother to seize the contractor’s bonds and sureties to compensate for the slippage and other losses incurred by taxpayers. Trenas, now a member of the Lower House of Congress, ignored the investigating body chaired by then Kgd. Raul Gonzalez, Jr., which recommended rescission of the contract before the 2004 elections, demand damages from the contractor, and file charges against those involved.
Gonzalez Jr., and lawyers Romeo Gerochi and Antonio Pesina separately filed criminal charges before the 2004 elections. Their complaints are still sitting at the files of the Ombudsman Western Visayas regional office headed by Virginia Palanca-Santiago, embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia and a moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong is as revolting as her looks.
Trenas is further luckier because his successor, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, turned out to be the male version of Virginia Palanca-Santiago. The first that Mabilog did upon assuming the mayoral seat was to form the “truth commission” led by former Vice Mayor Vic Facultad which did everything except to ferret out the truth. On the other hand, Mabilog threw the Pavia Housing Scam on to the lap of former councilor Junio Jacela who wrote the tear-jerking script titled “Closure”.
Accordingly, the script grieved for Iloilo City which could not move forward because it had condemned itself to the dungeon of the past. The city had to move forward, ergo, something had to be done to put a “closure” on the issue. But before the closure was consummated, the script called for the dramatis persona Jacela to fly to Manila and personally serve a “notice of rescission”.
The notice was unserved. According to Jacela, ABE had absconded. It already moved to an unknown address.
Jacela went home to Iloilo empty handed but his boss Mayor Mabilog still had his head up because then nothing could stand in the way to put a “closure” on the controversy. And closure he did. He put the two-hectare prime property to the auction block.
City taxpayers bleed P17,000 daily paying for the interest of the loan alone. The original P120 million debt ballooned to P132 million because of the magic performed by Trenas of transferring depositary banks, from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) to the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB).
Trenas and his gang alone know the reason for shifting banks. The PNB and PVB are but spitting distance along the same Iznart Street, Iloilo City but the trip bled city taxpayers P12 million more. The broad daylight robbery cries to the heavens for heavens for vengeance but Mabilog would rather entertain the cute option of closure.
The Trenas – Mabilog combination is lethal. And this is being replicated anew in the fracas spawned by the construction of a new city hall.
Trenas duped city taxpayers that he would be erecting a new city hall for only P368 million. He finished his third and final term leaving behind only the shell of the edifice but still has the gall of boasting he had a savings of P90 million from the additional P105 million he incurred before packing up.
Now, Mabilog seeks P262 million more after he changed plans to satisfy his extravagance of instilling in our hearts the pride to have a world class, P720-million, city hall.
The Trenas – Mabilog combine is lethal. Its success in clinching the P720 million construction means hemorrhage for taxpayers paying the interest and principal of the huge debt.