Commissions from gov’t projects ignite tiff among Zambo Sur allies
PAGADIAN CITY –– Two years after closing ranks against a common political enemy, Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Victor Yu and 2nd District Rep. Leonardo Babasa are breaking up their alliance due to a quarrel over commissions from government projects, another ally revealed.
Governor Yu and his wife, 1st District Rep. Divina Yu, have confirmed a falling out between them and Babasa due to the latter’s unfulfilled promise that the couple would decide whom to award national government-funded projects for his district.
These revelations sprouted as public works projects were put on the spotlight for alleged corruption that President Duterte vowed to stamp out in his remaining days in office.
Kumalarang town mayor Ruel Molina spilled the beans about the roots of the political quarrel after he felt alluded to by Representative Yu as having a hand in the killing of a former village official, who initiated an administrative case that led to his preventive suspension last month.
After winning as mayor in 2019, Molina allegedly pressured the village chief and six council members of Barangay Mahayahay to resign so his protege, the 7th councilman, can head the village.
Molina said the Yu couple was bent on controlling the “SOP of projects” even in Babasa’s district.
SOP is a euphemism for the commissions given by contractors to politicians who cause the awarding of government contracts to them.
If the Yu couple are the ones dispensing the favors to contractors, the SOP would go to them, Molina said.
Molina revealed that at the very least, contractors give a 20-percent commission based on the net billing, that is after taxes are deducted.
“I’m not a hypocrite. We do [project] contracting. But we should not forget our pledge to the people,” he said.
Yu disclosed that his family agreed to fund Babasa’s 2019 run for a House seat in exchange for them deciding on the projects in his district.
Yu said it was Babasa who dished the offer, “and we relied on his word.”
According to Yu, he was happy with the offer because he thought they would be able to repay the contractors who “secretly supported us.”
“We know that the contractors’ interests are projects because that is their business. They are not interested in being repaid the amount they gave us,” Yu explained.
Yu faced former governor Aurora Cerilles in the 2019 gubernatorial race, while Babasa squared it out with his former boss, Antonio Cerilles, who was then Zamboanga del Sur governor and Aurora’s husband.
Yu said he was saddened when Babasa reneged on their agreement when he won, preferring instead, to bring in contractors from outside the province.
This triggered their political breakup, Yu admitted.
In 2020, House members reportedly have at least P100 million in pork barrel funds, P70 million of which are for public works projects, while P30 million for education and health care.
Molina, Babasa, and the Yu couple used to be allies of the Cerilles political couple.
Molina broke out from them in 2010, while Babasa bolted in 2018 as he was finishing three terms as mayor of the mining town of Bayog.
The Yu couple broke political ties with the Cerilles couple in 2016, right after the general election.
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