Pangasinan election war heating up
A complaint for plunder and malversation of public funds was filed on Friday against Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza and other city officials in the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged misuse of a P300-million loan taken out in 2007 and a multimillion-peso budget for airport construction.
The complainants, 15 incumbent and former Alaminos barangay chairs, alleged irregularities in the funding and implementation of intended projects for the loan, which included a hospital and a hotel.
In a statement, Braganza said the charges were “absurd and ridiculous.”
“Nobody in his right mind will take this case seriously,” Braganza said.
The complainants alleged that Braganza favored contractors who failed to complete the projects more than a year past deadline.
“The complainants strongly believe and are willing to prove, based on the numerous evidence as well as from their personal knowledge, that the government contracts entered into by Mayor Braganza are grossly disadvantageous to the government and inimical to the interest of the state and the people of Alaminos and the Filipino people,” they said.
Included in the complaint with Braganza are incumbent members of the city council, city administrator Wilmer Panabang, city treasurer Shirley de la Cruz, city budget officer Rowena Ruiz, city accountant Mrs. Acosta (first name not given), city engineer Ismael Najer and unnamed officials of RR Encabo Construction.
The complaint was filed by incumbent barangay chairs Samuel Alcantara Sr., Ronald Bautista, Ester Bernal, Victor Ranches, Jessie Racraquin, Trinidad Soriano, Joffrey Orfinada, Eusibio Fronda, Jose Regatcho, Milagros Payas and Mario Rabadon; and former chairs Antonio Cortez, Carlito Ravarra, Alex Recosana and Ronald Bernas.
The complainants want Braganza and the rest of the incumbent city officials removed and disqualified from holding public office and the government contracts canceled.
The complaint against Braganza came on the heels of the plunder case filed last month in the Office of the Ombudsman against Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr., whom Braganza will challenge in the May elections.
“This is a crude and desperate attempt to take the political heat away from Gov. Amado Espino,” said Braganza.
“It is a classic squid tactic designed to divert the people’s attention from the ‘jueteng’ issue now plaguing the governor’s political campaign,” Braganza said.
Sometime in 2007, the city council approved a P300-million loan from Land Bank of the Philippines for different city projects, including a hospital, hotel, a new tourism building and university buildings.
Out of the P300-million loan, P51 million has been allocated for the purchase of heavy equipment. Some of the heavy equipment, however, were found being used for another project, the Alaminos City Airport.
Shortly after, the city council also approved a resolution allowing a deed of assignment transferring the P300-million loan from Land Bank to the Development Bank of the Philippines, paving the way for a “buyout.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.