COLUMN: Don’t pay Preferred Ventures

March 31-April 6, 2011

By Cha Monforte

Before this bond float-to-loan shift is being talked about now, there’s that chapter in the past that the bond float oppositors in Nabunturan capital town were not entertained by the previous administration (before this present administration of Mayor Romeo Clarin). First, in 2008 there was that public hearing on the P90-million bond flotation attended by the municipal planning and development coordinator Freddie Coronica and Clarin (then the vice mayor). By neglecting the complaints aired by several attending market vendors and taxpayers, they made a lutong macao out of the public hearing proceeding. Subsequently, the previous SB railroaded the filibustering of ex-Councilor Alfonso “Jun” Tabas Jr and the opposition of ex-Councilor Raul Caballero. When Tabas filibustering got messy, Clarin called up the pro bond float majority during a thick of a plenary deliberation, saying “iboto na ninyo para mahuman na ni!”. There was that tyranny of numbers of the pro bond float SB majority to stop the noisy filibustering minority. And so the municipal ordinance authorizing the bond float was sent in May 2008 to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for confirmation.
There at the SP, the approval of the ordinance was delayed for a rather short time because it was first referred to the committee on laws chaired then by Boardmember Ruwel Peter Gonzaga. Eventually, the committee made a favorable recommendation. When it was put on plenary, long debates ensued as the measure was strongly opposed by now second-termer Boardmembers Atty. Dexter Lopoz and Neri Barte and now Monkayo Councilor Armando “Boy”Codilla. During the voting, now last-termer BM Dr. Ruben Flores was a surprise as he cast a negative vote, thumbing down the bond flotation pushed by now ex-Mayor Macario Humol. BM Flores is an ex-mayor of the Nabunturan. Being a physician, he might have seen that the bond float is not good for the health of his town. By a vote of majority, the previous SP approved and ratified the municipal bond float ordinance (Mun. Ord. No. 2008-10) on July 16, 2008.
Just recalling here that the Nabunturan bond float oppositors were just following democratic procedures. When the bond float oppositors resorted to court action in trying to stop the bond float and told the Ombudsman that they did not mind the court injunction stopping the bond float and proceeded implementing it, despite about alleged bidding insufficiencies involving the consultant, the oppositors were just taking steps within our legal justice system in the hope of getting a legal reprieve.
Don’t pay Preferred Ventures: Mayor Clarin and the current Sangguniang Bayan are best advised now not to pay a handsome cool P1.8 million to the bond flotation consultant, Preferred Ventures Corporation in the planned buy-out scheme. They said that because there’s that buy-out provision in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the previous Humol administration and the Preferred Ventures Corp., wherein if the munisipyo would shift to other form of borrowing, “the buy-out provision of the MOA must be complied with.” That provision now appears to have enchained the munisipyo into paying the seducing consultant even as the Clarin administration is shifting to direct bank borrowing after junking the un-understood bond flotation. Why was the buy-out provision not seen before as contradictory to the “no cure, no pay” pledged payment policy of Preferred Ventures Corp, we just don’t know. There’s contradiction in here, ab initio, from the very beginning, and certainly the MOA is a self-serving one favoring the consultant. It’s worth to be questioned before the court. Again, Mayor Clarin is better off if he prepares to wage a court battle against the consultant than pay it outright as paying without questioning might become a serious political issue against him in 2013 polls.
And why again pay Preferred Ventures Corp when it has not done any good for the benefit of the Nabunturanons? Instead of giving something good, the Preferred Ventures Corp gave instead havoc and damage to the municipality. First and foremost, it was the feasibility study (FS) of the Preferred Ventures Corp that ignited the fears of the market vendors that their livelihood is directly threatened to be lost due to the high rentals and advances spelled down in that so-called FS.
Pay Preferred Ventures Corp because it had made an FS already? Santa Banana! Preferred Ventures Corp has obviously a stock of FS patterns and documentary templates already based on the bond float experimentations that the company had engaged with other LGUs in the country, several of which were either noted to have failed, with legal cases or stigmatized with Ombudsman cases including an earlier buy-out precedent in an LGU in Bukidnon. And why the Lakbay Aral of the previous SB members and municipal employees did not take that Bukidnon buy-out-precedent seriously? That Bukidnon buy-out precedent was supposed to be a warning already because, we learned, the LGU was forced to make a buy out if only to stop the bleeding of its coffers in the name of the failed bond float. The Bukidnon LGU borrowed millions from a bank to fund the bond float buy-out! The administration that bought out Preferred Ventures Corp lost in the next election.
Most especially, the reason that Preferred Ventures Corp should not be paid is that there’s no bond proceed yet as of the moment. The approved MOA and terms of reference (TOR) said only that Preferred Ventures Corp should only be paid that way and one time.


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