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Tabuk City Mayor breaks silence, calls P2B DBP loan oppositionists as “spoilers of progress”

Tabuk City mayor Darwin Estrañero though vowing to respect the Temporary Restraining Order on the almost P2B loan application of the city from the Development Bank of the Philippines chided petitioners for “spoiling progress”.

He also claimed thay petitioners are supporters of his political rivals in the May 2022 elections.

On Friday, the Regional Trial Court branch 25 in Tabuk City, Kalinga halted the release of the loan favoring petitioners who on January 13, 2022 asked for a TRO to prevent DBP from releasing the proceeds of the P1,925,000,000 loan.

RTC Judge Jerson Angog believed the petitioners would “suffer inreparable injury” if the TRO is not granted because this early, Judge Angog said, “the injury is considered irreparable as the pecuniary value od the injury that petitioners may suffer cannot be fairly estimated for possible just compensation.” Although, appearing the petitioners may not suffer direct injury, “there is the imminent presence of paramount public interest, or far reaching implications, as taxpayers will be the ones to bear the brunt of the burden.”

Jerome Tabanganay, Jamillah Dalilis, Casan Calil, Sunshine Busaing, and Engr. Daniel Peckley Jr. earlier on January 21, 2022 petitioned the court on behalf of taxpayers against government-run DBP, Tabuk CLGU represented by Mayor Estrañero, Acting Vice Mayor, Atty. Zorayda Mia M. Wacnang, and members of Sangguniang Panlungsod.

The Court further said, “in cases where serious legal issues were raise or public expenditures of millions of pesos were involved, the court (did not) hesitate to give standing to taxpayers”, citing Mamba vs Lara.

Wayback in February 15, 2021, SP Tabuk passed Resolution No. 021 ‘for the acquisition of a loan to finance the implementation of the enumerated development programs and projects of the city.’ Such stated projects; Purchase of COVID-19 Vaccines with allotted fund of P50 million; Construction of 100-Bed Level 2 Tabuk City Hospital inclusive of hospital equipment with P950 million; Construction of Legislative Building with P110 million; Improvement of City Hall Building and Compound with P90 million; Construction of Training Center-Balong Agro-Food with P30 million; Improvement of Various Roads from Unpaved to Paved with P715 million; Purchase of relocation site in Agbannawag with P20 million; and Purchase of relocation site in Lacnog with P10 million. The ordinance, after the lapse of 90 days unacted by the Kalinga provincial board was deemed approved.

Even before the appropriation ordinance lapsed into law on December 28, 2021, petitioners claimed before the court that Estrañero has started the bidding of process of the identified projects. As early as December 8, 2021, Tabuk CLGU through its Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) has published Invitations to Bid (ITB) in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) for some projects identified in the loan agreement. Pre-Bid conferences were held on December 15, 2021 and bid documents opened on December 28, 2021, they claimed.

Notices of Awards were reportedly already given to winning bidders, worrying petitioners that portions of loan could have been released before they asked the court for TRO.

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