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Ex-Tagbilaran Mayor Files Charges On Agora
« on: May 05, 2007, 09:02:22 AM »
Former mayor Joe Torralba has filed a complaint at the Ombudsman against the rehabilitate-operate-transfer (ROT) scheme adopted by the city government for the unfinished Agora building.

A similar complaint was also submitted at the Commission on Audit (COA), Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) according to Torralba during the candidates' forum for mayoralty bets, a joint undertaking of Station dyRD, dyZD and BCCTV.

The charges filed by Torralba was bared after incumbent Mayor Dan Lim challenged his opponent to sue him if he sees irregularities in the bidding process of the Agora rehabilitation plan.

Torralba said he does not question the decision to complete the Agora but his objection is on the manner the bidding process was undertaken by City Hall and the adoption of the ROT contract even without a feasibility study and COA appraisal.

The bidding was allegedly "rushed" to in time for the election ban, Torralba said.

In answering the former mayor, Lim pointed out that for nine years as city mayor, Torralba was not able to find means of finishing the Agora while the unfinished structure is highly questionable with almost P50 million already spent.

Mayor Lim said even city councilors allied with the former mayor approved the Agora rehabilitation scheme. The mayor clarified that he had to set aside other priority projects of the city as the public demanded for the completion of the Agora.

In turn, Lim accused Torralba of irregularities in the overpriced construction of the Integrated Bus Terminal and City Central Market and the new City Hall.

OTHER ISSUES

The city mayoralty candidates where also made to respond to questions and concerns during the forum.

Both candidates were asked to cite their accomplishments during their respective terms of office as city mayor.

Torralba cited the construction of economic enterprise projects such as the central market, bus terminal, slaughter house and motorpool with heavy equipment. The former mayor also mentioned the city park in barangay Cabawan, Sandugo Shrine, the Tagbilaran City Port which was undertaken with the national government, the concreting and asphalting of city streets and the institutionalization of the Cogon Night High School.

Lim, for his part, explained that his first three years as mayor was dedicated to improve governance and provide better services to Tagbilaranons. The provision of free uniforms for public elementary school students, healthcare support systems through the Blue Card and the Botika sa Katawhan and the adoption of multiple intelligence now started in day care centers in all 15 barangays.

The incumbent mayor noted that discipline have been established among city government employees while the city's revenue collections have improved during his term.

Torralba criticized Lim for not attending to barangay problems and for sitting on building permits and subdivision plans.

Asked to state his plans for the next three years, Lim said he will prioritize the establishment of socialized housing for poor families especially in barangays Cogon and Booy.

For his part, Torralba said he will approve pending applications for housing development and subdivision plans to complement the Uptown Tagbilaran housing, Muslim Village, Habitat Village, Capitol Valley, Teachers Village that were set up during his time.

Lim clarified that building permits were not approved because of deficiencies and most of the subdivisions in the city have not complied with basic requirements such as a drainage system but were allowed during Torralba's administration.

On their respective program for the city's peace and order and fighting illegal drugs, Torralba said he will give full support to the police and the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC).

In fact, during his (Torralba) term, the city police was adjudged as one of the most outstanding police force. Likewise, the CPOC had a similar recognition during his administration, Torralba said.

Torralba said he will appoint a Chief of Police who will go after illegal gambling and illegal drugs. He claimed that the city police during his time were in high morale and had a high crime solving rate.

Lim refuted Torralba's claim, however, saying that the peace and order situation in the city has improved and is much better in his term. The incumbent mayor rendered a lecture on the handling of intelligence funds which is being questioned by the Torralba camp. Lim said that the audit and liquidation of the city's intelligence fund is pursuant to COA guidelines and were, in fact, acknowledged by the COA chairman.

Torralba responded that he is questioning the "excessive" allocation of intelligence fund compared to the P800,000 during his term and not the process of its liquidation. (Kit Bagaipo)

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Published in the Bohol Chronicle - 5/2/2007

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