BEFORE I proceed, let me be clear. This column is open to anybody, especially allies of Mayor Evelio Leonardia or his “bagmen” or those in the city’s payroll, to refute or deny in writing with evidence whatever is written here so that we can have an intelligent discussion. The exchange will give the people of Bacolod the opportunity to make their own conclusions and act accordingly. The writer must state his real name. Fictitious names will not be entertained since this is an open discussion and therefore should be free of people who hide in the dark.

Many of the data to be cited here are well-known, as they were either published in the newspapers or the internet and government publications. However, raw data taken separately cannot give us a credible conclusion. My long years of historical research tell me that sometimes small items seemingly unrelated can actually link or explain and give a clear view of events and allow us to understand. Thus I will be falling back in time at some points. That necessarily means that the discussion here will be relational as well.

Let’s start with the controversial application for a loan of P1.7 billion from the Development Bank of the Philippines. The people of Bacolod must decide this early whether they concur with this move of Leonardia and his councilors and act accordingly by making their decisions known in the votes they will cast in May.

The stakes here are too big and the burden will be too heavy for the people of Bacolod for 25 years or so. This means your newborn child or grandchild or the still unborn will be paying for this loan. Are you willing to leave behind this indebtedness that will tie down the city’s funds for a quarter of a century? Leonardia and his councilors would, but will you?

If you don’t want, then act now even before the DPB discusses the application. You can stop this in several ways even before the election. You can for instance ask the President and the Department of Finance to conduct a thorough study of this proposal. You can convince family and friends to do the same. A flood of letters, email or text to the President and DOF will create pressure for an inquiry.

You can also exert pressure on Leonardia and cabal by a threat of rejection in the election. Of course they can buy votes but not everybody is for sale. In fact, most are not for sale.

Another reason we need to discuss this loan is because people see it as an attempt to raise money for the election. It is a form of plundering the city’s coffers. Insiders in the Leonardia government tell us that in the event the loan is approved and the projects are to be started, the contract will be offered to contractors. These contractors will make an offer, not in the formal bidding process required by law, but to insure that they will get the award. There will be a down payment of sort.

This system is not new; in fact it is so well-known among the contractors nobody talks about it anymore except the size of the down payment and who gets what. The down payment depends on the amount of the contract. Think, how much would be the “down payment” for a P1.7 billion contract? How much is the “usual”?

How will the contractor recover his down payment except by over estimating the cost and constructing below standards?

Perhaps I have already written about this complaint by a Bacolod citizen who has a project. If I had it is worth repeating because it seems this is now the modus operandi under the Leonardia administration. A proponent was not asked details about the project but a direct, shameless question of a corrupt councilor (among others): Pila akon ‘da!  Is this a surprise for Leonardia and his councilors?

Did they also ask, “Pila aton ‘di?” Perhaps they did not but let us leave that to the people to answer. But as is said when it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is highly probable a duck. Circumstances surrounding this loan indicate there is a duck, but then it might just be a fish that got caught in its mouth.

Let’s continue on Monday.