NEWS: Olano, Uy trade barbs on Tagum City Hall’s P40 M consultancy fee

By Cha Monforte, Rural Urban News

APRIL 5

Tagum City mayoralty rivals City Mayor Rey “Chiong Oy” Uy and Congressman Arrel Olano have traded barbs over the P40 million consultancy fee in connection with the new and modern city hall building which is undergoing construction at Apokon at present.

Earlier, Cong. Olano broke the issue to another Tagum-based weekly and over a local radio station in separate interviews that the over P40-million consultancy fee covering the services of one consultant from February 2008 to February 2010 was “lavish” even as he said that this was done while many people in barangays were in dire need of livelihood programs.

Calling for transparency on the project, the congressman charged that the new city hall construction is incurring continued high expenditures through heavy borrowing from Development Bank of the Philippines .

He reckoned that the new city hall could not be completed this year saying that DBP would no longer lend out additional cash to the city government this year.

Rebutting the Olano’s charges on the P40-million consultancy fee, Mayor Uy, in an interview Friday, said: “Yes, that’s true but it’s allowed in law. Wa nato gi-deny na (I don’t deny that).”

He said that the P40 million consultancy fee represented only 11 percent of the total project cost and “that is allowable” and under government laws consultancy fee for projects “is allowable up to 18 percent”.

He said that the consultancy fee covered a wide range of consultant’s works including the design of the structure, construction supervision and payment for the consultant’s engineers.

On the next vein, the mayor turned the table to Cong. Olano by questioning the latter’s own consultancy fee that “amounted to P300,000 a month and multiply that with 12 months and 9 years (of his 3 terms)”. He added that the total amount could easily reach to P30 million “without us seeing him produced any law of significant contribution.”

He also alleged that Olano, who was then the city vice mayor, was part of the decision when the city parted 15-percent consultancy fee for Schema consultant in the construction of the new public market in the city, “pero tan-awa ra, palpak man ang drainage ug stalls niini (the drainage and stalls of this are defective).

Uy also accused Olano of receiving commissions from the projects funded out of his Countrysides Development Fund (CDF), the known pork barrel in Congress.

He also said that the Olano allegedly “chose the contractor and even sub-contracted” his CDF-funded projects even if the funds came from the public works department and “by that he could easily get 20- to 30-percent commission”.

He said that it was only last year and this year that Olano put up projects in the city as “most of his projects, about 80 percent, were put outside the city para dili mahalata (so he could not be closely observed)”. “Ang ato lang ang malasakit sa atong dapit, sa katawhan, taga Luzon man gud na siya (What we’re after for is our sympathy to our place, to our people, he (Olano) has been like that as he came from Luzon ”.

“Ug asa na pod ang iyang allocation sa rental expense, wa man siya nag rent sa iyang congressional office dire? (And where is his budget allocation for rental of his congressional office since he is not renting anyway?),” Uy charged further.

But Olano, in separate interview before Uy’s interview with this Rural Urban News, reiterated his stand on the consultancy issue that he said was part of the Commission on Audit report on the city government’ operations.

He charged anew that the new city hall is a costly project at the burden of Tagum people even as he said that even if Mayor Uy would win in the election he could still not complete the project this year citing that the city government could no longer get additional loan from DBP as advised by the COA while the P200-million income earned last year by the city hall was “already restricted.”

He then challenged Uy to complete the project by “hiring 400 workers to work day and night for three months and it would be completed, but where will he get funds for this?”

He added that the entire cost of the project could even hit a billion mark once completed and if the bank interest payments to the loan would be added on top of the total project cost.

He said that the city accountant has been separating accounts on the loan without adding the interest payments “to make it appear that the loan is just like that”.

“Wa man gani tanke sa tubig ang Bingcungan nga mokantidad lang ug P2,400, then mogasto pa gihapon ta ug dako kaayo? (Despite that Barangay Bingcungan has no water tank worth P2,400 only then we still have to spend more for the project?” Olano asked.

Also, Olano responded to the mayor’s charge on his congressional consultancy baring that he only have P20,000 a month “consultancy expenses” which he said could be spent even for congressional consultations in the district.

In separate interview, Tagum City accountant Ramil Tiu bared that the total loans already released by the DBP for the new city hall amounted to P420 million of the total P450-million loan sought and approved.

The P450 million came from three loans – the first P200 million, the second P220 million, and the third additional P30 million loan “which is still for release,” Tiu said.

“As of February 2010, total disbursements from the released P420 million amounted to more than P366 million, and there’s still more than P84 million for disbursement including the P30 million additional loan for release,” the city accountant added.

Asked if the city government could still avail of DBP loan, Tiu said “yes”.

Meanwhile, mayoralty aspirant former Governor Gelacio “Yayong” Gementiza joined the fray saying that if he would be lucky to get the people’s mandate he would not use the new city hall being constructed but would continue to use the old city hall.

“Ang karaang city hall accessible gyod sa mga tawo ug di nako sila tagaan ug additional burden kay moplete pa man gud sa bag-ong city hall (The old city hall is really accessible and I’ll not give people additional burden since they will spend for fare in going to the new city hall),” he said.

“Kung palaran nga makabalik, naa na man na, humanon gyod nako tungod kay I am duty-bound to protect people’s money, bisag unsay gamitan basta useful lang (If I’m lucky to be back as a mayor I’ll really finish it as I’m duty-bound to protect people’s money. I’ll use the new city hall for any useful purpose),” he added.

Still, another mayoralty aspirant ex-police investigator and businessman Cesar Cuntapay said earlier that he would neither use the new city hall saying that he would convert it as “a world class convention center and hotel” considering its beauteous and elegant structure and sprawling and well-landscaped ground as planned.

Earlier, Mayor Uy said that the new city hall is what the progressive city of Tagum rightly needs this time, “kaisa ra man na nga gasto, ug di na nako mabitbit kung di na ko mayor (it’s a one-time expense and I could not bring along that when I’m no longer the city mayor)”. (Cha Monforte/Rural Urban News)

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