Los Baños opens controversial hallBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—There’s no stopping them.
The municipal government here on Tuesday inaugurated its new three-story hall, amid controversies surrounding the P91 million borrowed by the local government to build the structure.
In October, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered Mayor Anthony Genuino and nine other local officials to explain alleged irregularities surrounding the loan transaction.
In an interview on the sidelines of the inauguration program, Genuino said he and the other officials have answered the complaint. He declined further comment.
Genuino, however, said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) had given an initial funding of P10 million for the new municipal hall. Genuino is son of former Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino, who is now facing a plunder case for the alleged misuse of Pagcor funds.
The project to build a new municipal hall started during the term of Caesar Perez as Los Baños mayor. Perez is now Laguna vice governor.
The P10 million that Mayor Genuino said came from Pagcor was not enough for the project and in March this year, the municipal council passed a resolution allowing the mayor to enter into a loan agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines worth P91 million that would be used to build the new municipal hall.
A councilor, Jay Rolusta, questioned the resolution that was passed on March 26, saying it was never ratified during a council session.
Rolusta and Francisco Lapis, member of the watchdog group People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) in Los Baños and candidate for mayor next year, accused Mayor Genuino and his allies in the council of falsifying records of the council to make it appear that there was ratification of the resolution allowing Mayor Genuino to enter into a loan deal with Land Bank.
Eduardo Suplac, a resident, filed in July a separate case against Mayor Genuino and his allies.
The inauguration of the new municipal hall fell on the 30th birthday of Mayor Genuino, who said the new structure meant better services for the people of Los Banos.
“Gone are the days of Los Baños being called just a small town near UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Baños) with only buko pie to be proud of,” the mayor said in his speech at the inauguration rites.
The PPVR and a local political party, Stand-LB, distributed pamphlets around town to protest what they said was the anomalous project as Mayor Genuino and his supporters opened the new building.