PAIN OVER BALOLONG CASE
LINGAYEN—With a heavy heart, 6th District Board Member Alfonso Bince, known as the “eternal board member” for being the longest serving Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) elected member, resigned from his chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon committee last Monday over the case of Urbiztondo’s mayor.
“Today, I am making a personal decision. I am no longer submitting the draft of the recommendation to the Committee. I will just read the dispositive portion for whatever it is worth. The dispositive portion read as follows: Wherefore, prescinding from the above discussion, it is respectfully recommended by Your Committee that in view of the seriousness and gravity of the proven charges, the respondent of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan must be imposed a penalty of punitive suspension of office for five (5) months,” said Bince, then tore the 12-page draft into pieces to the surprise of those present at the SP session.
“I did so on my own (the resignation), at least to lessen the pain of not being able to close the Balolong case with finality and satisfaction on my part,” said Bince in his privilege speech in the SP session last Monday.
The Committee on Public Accountability probed and recommended the suspension of Mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr. over a case filed involving the disbursement of a project funds from a bank loan.
The suspension order issued by the SP on August 15, 2012 was overturned by Malacañang on October 2, 2012 after Balolong brought the case before the President.
After the Malacañang order, Bince was authorized by the SP to carry on with the drafting of a recommendation on the case for the suspension nonetheless.
He presented the draft before the SP but he said, “when discussed in caucus last Monday the recommendation was met with stony silence except by an opinion of Board Member Angel Baniqued that to impose a suspension at this time of the year is a prohibited act and may constitute an election offense with a penalty of imprisonment for six months without benefit of probation”.
Bince said Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr., chair of the SP, also cautioned him about possible “political repercussions” of a decision to suspend in the face of a Malacanang decision on the case.
Calimlim explained that the termination of the case against Balolong is in accordance with Commission on Elections rules.
“When the election (period) comes, bawal na lahat ng appointments, transfers, suspensions as far as administrative matter is concerned,” he said.
SP Secretary Verna Nava, meanwhile, noted, “’Pag na-re-elect ‘yong respondent (Balolong), it will be deemed as if wala na ‘yong kaso against him because the people are the ultimate judge.”
Meanwhile, Blue Ribbon Committee Vice Chairman Mojamito Libunao said the SP has yet to receive any formal letter from Bince on his resignation but “until such time the SP has just taken note of the privilege speech.”
The charges against Balolong was filed before the provincial board by former municipal treasurer Loida Cancino in August 2011 over an ordinance authorizing the mayor to borrow P52.4 million from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) to finance certain projects of the town.
Cancino alleged that on May 24 and 28, 2012, the PNB credited P28 million from the approved loan to the PNB account of the municipality and Balolong effected the disbursement of these loan proceeds without the necessary appropriation ordinance from the municipal board.—Eva Visperas and Johanne R. Macob