Suspension of 7 councilors ordered after fiasco in loan deal approvalBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
The Rizal provincial government ordered seven councilors of Taytay suspended after they ratified a resolution, authorizing a P170-million loan deal, outside a council session.
The provincial board on Aug. 23 issued a seven-day suspension order against the councilors—Allan de Leon, Archie Calderon, Glenviano Valera, Anastacio Alcantara, Kristoffer Charles Esguerra, Michell Bermundo and Ma. Jeca Villanueva for “usurpation of power and misconduct in office.”
The seven councilors are expected to appeal the suspension order.
Taytay Vice Mayor Janet de Leon-Mercado said the suspension order followed the approval by the councilors of a resolution in October 2011 authorizing Taytay Mayor George Ricardo Gacula II to enter into a P170-million loan agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines.
The money was for the construction of a three-story public market that Mercado and other councilors are opposing for not having a feasibility study.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mercado said the councilors who supported the project approved the resolution surreptitiously.
She said that on the day that the resolution was approved in October 2011, the council session had already adjourned and the resolution had been referred to a council committee “for further study.”
“But after we were gone, the councilors went back (to the session room) and adopted the resolution,” said Mercado.
She said the same thing happened last February when, after the session was suspended, the seven councilors ratified the contract for the public market in the absence of other councilors.
One of the respondents, Councilor Esguerra, said he saw no reason to delay the project. He said the loan deal and proposed public market have been examined in committee hearings and feasibility studies have been prepared on the proposals.
Esguerra said Mercado, being the presiding officer of the council, “made a mistake” in adjourning the council session on the day the loan resolution was approved. The session, Esguerra said, was adjourned without a motion to do so.
Mercado and three councilors filed the complaint against the suspended councilors in March.
“We already have a mall and other establishments here,” said Mercado. “Do we still need a three-story market? Why the rush to get the loan?” she said.
Taytay is a first class municipality with an annual income of around P200 million. In 2007, Taytay entered into a P150-million loan deal to build a new municipal building and borrowed another P175 million in 2009 for other government projects.
Mercado said she plans to elevate the case against the seven councilors to the Office of the Ombudsman.