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Tuguegarao eyes PHP700-M loan for ‘Lawin' rehabMelvin Gascon

TUGUEGARAO CITY, March 9 (PNA) -- The city government here has plans to avail of a PHP700-million loan to fund various rehabilitation projects following the devastation wrought by super typhoon Lawin four months ago.

Mayor Bienvenido De Guzman II has asked the city council for authority to contract the loan with lending institutions despite criticisms that the proposed loan is unnecessary.

The mayor was asking for a renewal of the same authority granted in December last year, in favor of former city mayor Jefferson Soriano, but which was deemed revoked after he was dismissed from service by the Ombudsman last month.

The city council cited the “widescale (sic) destruction” in the city for the necessity to contract a loan.

“Whereas, on October 19, 2016, super typhoon Lawin, with the international name of Haima, one of the most powerful typhoons to ever hit Tuguegarao City, has caused widescale destruction in infrastructure and other facilities owned by the city government,” the December resolution read in part.

But the city government’s plan has been met with criticism, with residents expressing fears that typhoon rehabilitation was being used as a smokescreen for fund misuse, and the subsequent debt payments would drain the city coffers.

De Guzman II said city officials have yet to negotiate with borrowers to determine the amount of debt payments the city will to make out of its internal revenue allotment in the next three years.

“That authority has already been granted to then Mayor Soriano, but now, I need to request for a new authority to avoid any legal complications,” he said in a phone interview.

Documents revealed that the city government plans to borrow some PHP700 million as an “omnibus loan facility” from still-undetermined lending institutions, which the city will pay in 10 years.

Of this amount, PHP260 million will be allotted for the construction of a hospital, while PHP150 million will be used for the repair of the city’s Don Domingo Market.

Another PHP90 million is eyed for the construction of school buildings and classrooms; PHP50 million for the construction of an evacuation center; PHP40 million will be used for the construction of drainage canals; and another PHP40 million for the repair of the city hall.

Some PHP30 million will be spent for the repair of the city’s Central Public Market, while another PHP20 million for the repair of the old city hall.

The city will request for a moratorium to pay the loan in the next three years; the first payments will be made in 2020, according to documents. (PNA)

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