Tabuk City (Kalinga) mayor Darwin Estranero, 11 members of the Tabuk City council, and a horde of city
officials have asked the Ombudsman for an extension of their period to answer administrative infraction
charges lodged in connection with the controversial over P1.9B loan Tabuk City entered into with the Development Bank of the Philippines supposedly to finance city government infrastructure projects.

The Office of the Ombudsman on September 19, this year ordered Estranero, the councilors, together with the head of the Bids and Awards Committee and the chief of the lending department of the DBP Tuguegarao branch to file their counter-affidavits together with the affidavits of their witnesses, and other supporting documents why they should not be faulted for violating R.A.3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), grave misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Local
Government Code of 1991 after noticing irregularities in the process of the P1.9B loan.

The complaint was filed March this year by Tabuk City resident and broadcaster Jerome Tabanganay.abuk City councilors who were charged include: Chester A. Alunday; Dick G. Bal-o, Ivan Yannick S. Bagayao; Kristian B. Wandag; Glenn Julius B. Amla; Elvis B. Tabanganay; Eduardo A. Sacayle; Castor G. Cayaba;
Martinez T. Vicente; Henry B. Tubban, Jr.; and Juan Tomas T. Duyan. Also charged were Bids and Awards Committee chairman Arnold Tenedero and DBP represented in this case by its Tuguegarao Lending
Center Head, Emil Antonio Calimag.

Tabanganay alleged that the officials conspired with one another to secure a huge amount of loan using the Internal Revenue Allotment of the City of Tabuk as security for 15 years. “Also, I am formally administratively charging the respondent officials of the City Local Government Unit (CLGU) of Tabuk with Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service for the highly irregular and
unlawful passing of resolutions authorizing Mayor Estrañero to negotiate and sign agreements in behalf of the CLGU Tabuk with the DBP for the securing of the loan in the gargantuan amount of One Billion Nine
Hundred Twenty-Five Million Pesos (P1,925,000,000.00), and for the highly irregular and unlawful passing of ordinances approving the loan agreement to the detriment of the constituents of the City of Tabuk,” he added in his complaint.

Estrañero and the officials though had asked for a 15-day extension to submit counter affidavit, arguing “that due to the seriousness and complexity to the allegations contained in the complaint”, adding “so that
(we) can get copies of pertinent documents, affidavits of their witnesses as well as other information to support the counter-affidavits.”

Tabanganay had claimed at the Ombudsman that aside from the irregular acquisition of a loan railroaded for approval by the Tabuk City council is unfavorable to city residents, among other irregularities in the identification of infrastructure projects, among others. “The Ombudsman had given us hope that justice and
triuth may prevail,” Tabanganay said while admitting that he was worried his complaint in March could
not prosper.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon