By Joey Natividad
SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com/12-July-2012) – Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee, Vice-Governor Antonio H. Escudero, Land Bank vice president Renato Eje, a bank department head, and nine (9) Provincial Board members face a criminal complaint before the Ombudsman for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices law.
Sorsogon board member Vladimir Ramon B. Frivaldo filed the complaint on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Also cited in Frivaldo’s complaint are Landbank department head Hil Benedict Manzanades of Legazpi branch and majority of Sorsogon board members, namely Rebecca D. Aquino; Fernando David H. Duran III; Arnulfo Perete; Franco Eric O. Ravanilla; Angel Escandor; Benito L. Doma; Bernard H. Hao; Patrick Q. Rodrigueza; and, Nelson A. Maraña.
Aside from the criminal complaint, Frivaldo tightened the screw on the Sorsogon officials by filing an administrative complaint for alleged Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty.
In his complaint-affidavit, Frivaldo cited the officials violated section 3, paragraphs (a) and (g) of R.A. 3019, The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for choosing Land Bank (LBP) as creditor bank in extending the Sorsogon Provincial Government of PhP 350 Million loan at an interest rate that was higher than what was offered by the Philippine National Bank (PNB) at 5.0 % interest rate. Last year, the Provincial Government had negotiated with the two banks, Landbank and PNB, for securing loans with lower interest rates.
In his complaint, Frivaldo cited several instances of blatant violations by the governor, vice-governor and the board members of the implementing rules and regulations of the Local Government Code, citing alleged “railroading” of the bank loan favoring the LBP (Land Bank) deal. The complainant has attached evidences in his complaint-affidavit which he filed before the Ombudsman.
“Another major question now is that how come the loan was split into two loan agreements with different Interest Rates and Terms by the LBP with-out any prior notice or approval from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, considering that the authority of the governor was specifically for the whole amount of P350.0 Million, and not for the aggregate amount of P100.0 million and another P250.0 Million,” cited Frivaldo in his affidavit.
“Noteworthy to mention is that respondents Governor Lee, Vice-Governor Escudero and the concerned Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan particularly singled- out LBP despite the higher interest rate it offered compared to the PNB proposal as the only financial institution to service the loan being secured by the Provincial Government without even asking for any justification nor explanation from Governor Lee for choosing the LBP over the PNB offer,” cited the complaint-affidavit.
Frivaldo specified on his complaint that: “On October 19, 2011, respondent Governor Lee signed the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13 in the amount of P100,000,000.00) and Loan Agreement (OTLF 2 in the amount of P250,000,000.00) with Land Bank of the Philippines represented by respondent Renato G. Eje, Vice President/ Head, ROV (herewith are the photocopies of the two (2) Loan Contracts between the Provincial Government of Sorsogon and Land Bank of the Philippines for a total sum of 350 Million Pesos, copies of said loan agreements are attached as Annexes “R” and “S”). Both LBP Loan Agreements have different Interest Rate and Term. The acts mentioned here is a direct violation . . .”
Frivaldo cited in his complaint that “on June 21, 2011 respondent Presiding Officer and the concerned Sanggunian Panlalawigan Board Members in direct violation AGAIN of its own internal rules and regulations ( Art. 7 of the LGC IRR) and with obvious disrespect thereto, PASSED AND APPROVED, Resolution No. 92-2011, entitled “Resolution granting authority to the Provincial Governor on behalf of the Provincial Government to negotiate and enter into a Loan Agreement with Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of P350.0 million to finance urgent and priority Provincial Development Projects, enumerated per attached List and hereby approving the aforesaid enumerated projects pursuant to the approved Local Development Plan and Public Investment Program or approved Annual Procurement Program of the province.” This has already been the practice of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan since time immemorial in passing measures, ordinances and resolutions which the accused Governor Lee commands upon the concerned respondent Sanggunian Panlalawigan members. Respondent Presiding Officer and the concerned Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Members probably did not seem it necessary or important to even ask for a briefing, explanation nor justification from Governor Lee for the sudden change of heart nor did they required for any recommendation if any of the “Finance Committee” before overwhelmingly passing and approving the Resolution;. . .”
“It is noteworthy that there was neither a single official committee hearing held nor any public consultation done for this purpose. This is a glaring show of conspiracy between the Governor on one hand and the Vice Governor and the concerned Board Members, because despite this the Sangguniang Panlalawigan expeditiously passed and approved Resolution No. 92-2011 LBP which has a higher interest rate of 5.061%.
His affidavit claims as “direct violation of Section 3, Paragraphs (a) of R.A. No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” which states: Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: (a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.”
The Board Member also mentioned “Section 3 (g) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which provides:Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.”
His complaint bared that “the respondents Presiding Officer and the concerned Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan did not even bother to inquire as to the glaring conspiracy between respondent Governor Lee on one hand, and some officials of LBP for the purpose of securing a loan to the detriment and disadvantage of the Provincial Government. Where LBP offered 5.061% compared to the PNB’s lower interest rate of 5%. In fact, on October 21, 2011, respondents ratified, confirmed and approved Resolution No. 152-2011 entitled “Resolution ratifying, confirming and approving the Loan Agreement by and between the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Provincial Government of Sorsogon represented by Provincial Governor Raul R. Lee governing a loan in the amount of One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00).
He submitted a photocopy of Resolution No. 152-2011 attached to the complaint. [BicolToday.com]
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