Remembering the Awai deal
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
NOW that Dagupan Mayor Benjie Lim has broken his silence (through his press release) over that infamous day when the city’s new batch of onor-onors took their “30 pieces of silver” and ran to hide, I am convinced more than ever that the conspiracy to fleece the city of millions for their 2013 reelection campaign spending is in progress!
The telltale sign was in Mr. Lim’s pledge to “form a committee of disposal to do the necessary assessment on (sic) the MC Adore property and the piece of land bought by the city government in Barangay Talibaew, Calasiao, Pangasinan.“
He assured Dagupeños that “this ad hoc committee will eventually determine the fair market value of each property.” And how!
As he obviously hopes nobody will recall, this is the same template Mr. Lim used when he set up the Dagupeños for a dizzy spin that made the city cough up P9 M more than the established P7 M market value of the 30-hectare property in Barangay Awai, San Jacinto purportedly for the city’s sanitary landfill.
He created a committee manned by his 2002 onor-onors (that included then Onor-onor Vlad Mata, now city administrator) with the token participation of city hall officials. The committee told the city that the hilly farm property was valued at P70-90/sq. m when, in fact, a premium agricultural flat land in the area was only valued at P35/sq.m max!
Given that experience, the city should expect to be mesmerized again by the “magical” assessment of his “disposal committee” with a difference. Expect grossly undervalued rates for the two properties like nobody’s business! The formula for the killer kickback is to officially sell low and enable negotiations to reach a higher price for the desired kickback in millions, big enough to bankroll campaign expenses of the conspirators beginning next month!
Get this. BSL’s “shared responsibility” formula is: Buy high, sell low for the city!
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WATCH THEIR BODY LANGUAGE. Mayor Lim misleads Dagupeños in indicating that since the MC Adore building is dilapidated, the value cannot be more than P100 M! What he is not telling the city is what the value of the premium property (land and building) is these days! He really must think Dagupeños are stupid enough to swallow that spin. But how he will eventually sock it to the city and make that anomalous sale is worth watching.
For now, the 2012 batch of onor-onors have a lot of explaining to do, as Mr. Lim himself suggested, “Ask them, not me!” in response to queries about the conduct and result of the “special session.”
As the onor-onors already realize by now, there is no such thing as free lunch in the business world of Mr. Lim. His policy – “I pay, you work for it!” So, let’s hear the onor-onors work for their “30 pieces of silver”! (A PUNCH source close to the onor-onors insist that all the councilors present who voted to grant the mayor the desired authority to negotiate were rewarded with P1.5 million each, and the funds reserved for the absentees were again shared by all. Wow, P1.5 M plus pocket money just to shout “Aye” in a 5-minute session. A bit hard to believe, so let’s watch the onor-onors’ body language when made to explain).
So let’s hear the onor-onors explanation to their constituents:
1. Why were you all absent in the last April 23 regular session day, just 2 days after your Judas act vs. the city? (Forget citing “mere coincidence” because Judas in Jesus’ life was no coincidence as well).
2. How did Onor-onor Jess Canto end up as the presiding officer when the protocol dictated that Onor-onor Dada Reyna who was present for the reenactment, should have presided over it? Did she say she does not know how to preside?
3. What urgency did you find to justify the holding of the “special session” at “all costs” knowing the vice mayor was out of town, the agenda was neither discussed nor debated at anytime in the past, nor was it the subject of a committee report, and the city’s annual budget was just approved?
4. Why did you hide your “emergency travel arrangements” to-and-fro Makati and Dagupan from the acting Vice Mayor Maybelyn Fernandez?
5. Why was there no attempt to clarify and determine the present market values of the two properties as basis for granting the mayor the authority to negotiate?
6. Finally, why was there no attempt to debate or discuss the merits of the request of the mayor in spite of the fact that you all spent a full hour closeted inside the conference room? What were you discussing behind the people’s back since you obviously didn’t discuss the merits of the request? (Or were you simply waiting for me to leave the hall?).
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THE OMBUDSMAN IS HERE. I don’t believe any of the onor-onors has the courage to explain and tell the truth. But it really doesn’t matter because they will all have their day in court. Yes, their day in court! In case they have not heard, the Ombudsman is opening its regional / satellite office in Brgy. Carmay East, Rosales, on Monday, 30 April 2012. This means, Pangasinenses can now easily file complaints or requests for investigation without even signing their names!
In case the onor-onors are not aware, their resolution adopting the mayor’s draft en toto without incorporating the terms and conditions for the sale of the two properties is enough to question the legality and their motive behind their action. In their mindless haste to pocket their 30 pieces of silver, they failed to be reminded that a special session can only be convened by the mayor to address an emergency situation. Was there an emergency? Perhaps the immediate threat to recall the offer for “30 pieces of silver” if they cannot play Judas was an emergency case! Was the city in desperate need of funds? That would be stretching their desperation. Also, they failed to ask if there was failed public bidding for the two properties to justify the outright negotiated sale of the two properties. Sure, there were two outrageous offers, but no public bidding was ever held. Tsk-tsk.
Methinks the city’s disgusting onor-onors can be charged, at the very least, with ignorance of the law and conspiracy to defraud the city government. A conviction will lead to permanent disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of all benefits and a jail term.
The city officials, particularly members of the bids and awards committee, city treasurer and city auditor are definitely on notice, too. The ombudsman is here!
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BROTHERLY ADVICE. And here’s my brotherly advice to the still unnamed buyer: Get out of the kitchen and hold off any more “down-payments” because the deal you are pursuing may just come to naught.
Cut your losses and get even another day if your seller refuses to refund whatever advances you’ve made. Besides, you will not get off unscathed in this mother of all corrupt deals being handed to you on a silver platter (ostensibly in return for all the packs of 30 pieces of silver shared by all). If you pursue it, you, too, will bear the stigma of having corrupted the system just to earn your obscene profits.
Persist and you will be a fair game in the Dagupeños fight against corruption and for good governance. Let it not be said that you were never warned!
Fair is fair!
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MAKING PALARO MORE FUN. The provincial government is certainly not leaving anything to chance after it committed itself to establish a new standard for the holding the prestigious annual event.
Having seen how meticulous Guv Spines is with details, I’ll not be a bit surprised if a number of capitol employees and officials are already at their wits’ end to see to his orders.
But here’s one detail that I hope Guv Spines and his core organizers will not overlook. Watch the tricycle drivers in Lingayen and in other venues who will surely be tempted to overcharge visitors at the first opportunity. A flyer should be made available to participants and visitors advising them of levels of fares around Lingayen, and to-and–fro Lingayen and other venues.
Many past visitors left the province feeling angry and abused notwithstanding generous hospitality of hosts and the excellent food all because of encounters with cheating tricycle drivers.