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Danao Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga Debunks Critics
« on: August 27, 2012, 07:14:24 AM »
by Sunday Post

A smoldering conflict between two bitter political enemies in faraway Danao town broke into an open warfare with Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga at the receiving end of an anti-graft case before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

But Mayor Gonzaga, one of the top performing assets among local executives, appeared unfazed with his latest brush with the law adding the charges he was facing was part of a demolition job out to ruin his reputation. It was the mayor’s own municipal accountant who happens to be his own cousin who filed the case.

It was to the credit of the young mayor that Danao was placed in Bohol’s tourism map by way of the Danao Eco-Park, an adventure destination featuring the longest zipline. In addition to Danao’s Eco-Adventure Park is the Danao Air Park which features an ultra-light aircraft and paragliders.

But it was the same innovation in tourism facilities courtesy of Mayor Gonzaga that put him in trouble as his political enemies—the Cepesdoza brothers, Board Member Romulo Cepedoza and V-Mayor Jose Cepedoza were believed to be behind the criminal complaint filed before the Ombudsman by Illuminada Gonzaga, the fomer municipal accountant.

Although first degree cousins, there’s no love lost between the Gonzagas and the Cepedozas. The political conflict has something to do with the 2013 elections where Mayor Gonzaga, now on his last term, who is rumored to be frustrating the bid of the vice mayor who is eyeing the town’s top elective post. Mayor Tom is reported to be fielding his own mother to replace him leaving behind his cousin to fend off for himself as the candidate for Danao mayor. The incumbent mayor will slide down as vice mayor. Asked to comment regarding the Ombudsman case, Mayor Gonzaga said he cannot think of any other reason except that it was politically motivated. He said while he was so concerned to improve the image of Danao as a sleepy municipality, his enemies have a field day sabotaging whatever gains he has achieved out of the innovations he introduced in the town. Among the Bohol municipalities cashing in on the boom of eco-tourism parks, it was Danao which blazed the trail especially in the introduction of zipline rides. The construction of the airstrip was pegged art a price of P2,442,920.00 while the ultra light plane was bought at P1,990,000.00 by a company known as Asolo Cable & Installation Services and based in Cotabato City.

THE OMBUDSMAN CASE

What put Mayor Gonzaga on the spot was the alleged anomaly as detailed by the former municipal accountant in the construction of an airstrip and purchase of an ultra-light aircraft without bidding and contrary to existing laws and regulations. Mayor Gonzaga is given until August 18 to file his counter-affidavit. He said his answer to the allegations of his cousin will be contained in the counter-affidavit. The mayor said there’s nothing irregular in the construction and his cousin was just mislead by his political detractors who happen to be his political enemies.

FLOATING STATUS`

In an interview with Mayor Gonzaga, it was learned that the complainant was placed in a floating status after it was found out that her husband was directly involved in the supply of medicines and other items for the municipality. In the wake of the mayor’s discovery, he immediately placed the accountant in floating status by virtue of Executive Order No. 39. She was assigned to supervise the Municipal Waterworks System Office effective March 14, 2011. The office of municipal accountant was left to the care of a subordinate identified as Zenita Eroy, who is not a Certified Public Accountant. Gonzaga is a CPA. With her new assignment, Gonzaga sued the mayor for grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, harassment and oppression, dishonesty, conduct prejudiucial to the best interest of the service.

COUNTER CHARGE

Although still to be formally lodged before the Office of the Ombudsman, the camp of Mayor Gonzaga is also readying charges against V-Mayor Cepedoza in connection with the illegal quarry in an area declared as a timberland in sitio Pulang Yuta in barangay Tabok, also in Danao. A resolution endorsing to the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas a recommendation of Cenro-Talibon regarding the illegal quarry allegedly owned by the Cepedozas. Seven members of the Sangguniang Bayan out of 11 signed the recommendation. In a first endorsement, Elpidio Palaca, Sr. of Cenro-Talibon forwarded to the DENR Regional Executive Director Region 7 Mandaue City a Memorandum Report of forester Aniceto Suarez with the information that special Transport/Disposal permit for Limestone was issued by the Provincial Governor of Bohol within the classified timberland area and recommending issuance of Cease and Desist order and or issuance of Special Land Use Permit if circumstances warrant.

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