Plundering the Bacolod treasury-9

THE second cause of action in the case filed against city and bank officials relative to the city’s P1.7 billion loan, accused these officials of “undue, indecent and anomalous haste” in approving and entering into the contract. The Development Bank of the Philippines is included in the suit because it also signed the contract.

How speedily did the City’s Sanggunian, the mayor and DBP come into this agreement? Here’s the time line or dated sequence of events. Let the dates and actions speak.

On November 22, 2018, (a Thursday) the SP served a “Notice of Public Hearing” to “a select group of persons consisting of the department heads and employees at the NGC and political allies of respondent public officials.” There were only 18 people who attended.

The complaint added that although the notice was called “public hearing”, the public was not invited, “either actually or constructively through publication.” Simply said, nobody else was invited.

The public hearing was held on Monday, November 26. The complainant said there “was no recorded opposition to the loan” so the “following documents were passed/signed that same day”: 1. Endorsement; 2. Committee Report; 3. Resolution adopting the Committee Report; 4. Resolution authorizing the Mayor to sign the loan documents; 5. Approving the Borrowing Ordinance; 6. The Borrowing Ordinance.

These are the resolutions and ordinances that the complainants claimed in their First Cause of Action that were not published as required by the Local Government Code.

Two days after these resolutions and ordinances were passed, Mayor Evelio Leonardia “received a letter from DBP informing him that the loan of P1.7 Billion was already approved by the board of directors of the bank.”

The complainant further said that “on that same day, the Term Loan Agreement and the Continuing Deed of Assignment were signed by the Mayor and DBP.”

Let’s pause and simplify. Two days after the public hearing and passage of the unpublished resolutions and ordinances, DBP said the loan was already approved by its board and since that was already approved, DBP and Leonardia immediately signed that same day the contract for P1.7 billion loan.

I do not have the Annex to the complaint as to when the DBP board approved the loan so we cannot tell whether it approved before, at the same time or after the SP had conducted what the complaint described as “sham hearing”. What is clear is that the DBP informed Leonardia two days after the hearing that the loan application was already approved. We can also assume that both parties have agreed on the terms and conditions – when we don’t know, but the SP agreed to it two days before Leonardia received notice of approval by the DBP.

With the two parties agreeing and signing the contract, Leonardia submitted the signed documents to the SP on December 7 for ratification. This is to legally bind the city to the loan. Three days later the SP concurred with the contract.

The complainants said that on December 17, 2018, the City Mayor submitted a letter (dated December 14) to the SP asking for the “passage of an Appropriation Ordinance in the amount of P1.7 billion.” Two days later, the SP approved the P1.7 billion ordinance. Two days more, Leonardia approved the P1.7 billion ordinance. One week later, the SP also approved or ratified the ordinance.

The time line or the specific dates when the various phases of approval by Leonardia and the SP and DBP took place were intended by the complainants to show “the mad rush to pass and approve the resolutions and ordinances.” They also showed that the requirements of the law were disregarded.

In their complaint, they described this “mad rush” as a “candidate for Guinness because it took only 20 days from the sham public hearing …to notice of approval and 16 days to the passage of the Appropriation Ordinance”.

“Guinness” is the Book of World Records, listing the incredible, unbelievable, unique, unusual, ultimate record-breaking facts and achievements.

To further show their claim that there was undue haste in this transaction, the complainants said that “based on the narrations in the Committee Report, there was even no basic study that was submitted and discussed during the sham hearing, like feasibility study of the proposed projects.” They reiterated what I asked yesterday about the missing studies.

We’ll continue on February 11.