Dagupan SP approves transfer of city hall

September 25, 2017 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

DAGUPAN CITY –In one fell swoop, the Sangguniang Panglungsod approved resolutions transferring the  city hall to a fishpond  property of the Mayor Belen Fernandez’  brother, reclassifying the property from agricultural to institutional use, and accepting a donation from the Fernandez-family owned company for the road right of way.

The 1.2 hectare property of Kerwin and Mary Ann Fernandez in Pantal-Lucap is a part of the couple’s bigger lot,  around which are lots owned by the mayor, her family and the CSI group of companies which the family also owns.  

Last Monday, the SP approved a resolution accepting a donation from the CSI for the road right-of-way from the De Venecia highway cutting across Fernandez family’s landholdings going the new city hall, which the SP calls a government center.The resolution was approved without passing through three readings rule, without committee hearings and public consultations.

On deck is a draft resolution granting Fernandez the “full powers and authority to secure an omnibus term loan facility with a reputable banking institution for the purposes of contructing a new government center along the Pantal-Lucao growth area,  and purchasing the equipment, furniture and facilities necessary for its operation.”

All the resolutions were certified as “urgent” by the mayor in her letters to the SP.

Councilor Vice Mayor Brian Lim, who is against the transfer of the city hall, said transferring it to a property of the mayor’s brother smacked of corruption as it was meant to benefit the mayor and her family.

“She negotiated for the transfer of the city hall to her own company. It’s like she looked at the mirror and negotiated with herself,” he said.

Lim added that he discovered that the mayor’s family owned vast landholdings surrounding the donated lot.

“We know the prices of fishponds (are low). If the city hall is built there, naturally, the prices of their properties would skyrocket, benefitting her family. So this is an act of corruption,” he said.

He also raised alarm over the plan to acquire more than a billion pesos to develop the so-called government center as the city does not have the capacity to build the center using its own budget.

In the draft ordinance which Fernandez asked the SP to pass on Wednesday, she said the project “require(s) such amount from the city government that is not readily available.”

The draft ordinance is silent on the total amount that the city government would borrow from the bank.

Lim likewise raised the propriety for acquiring a loan which would be paid for by the residents through increased taxes, while the Fernandez’ family members are “sitting pretty because they already earned billions through increased valuation of their properties around the new city hall.”

Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo said it the valuation increase would benefit not only the mayor and her family, but other landowners around the area.

Lim said the SP’s decision to acquiesce to the mayor’s demands did not mean the resolutions are already final.

“We have what we call the referendum, a process by which the residents would vote if they are in favor of the plant to transfer the city hall or not.  Residents can petition the Commission on Elections to conduct the referendum,” he said.

Entry filed under: News.

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