Thursday, October 27, 2005


STUMPED ONCE MORE. Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas encounters another obstacle in the form of the TRO against the capitol's loan for the purchase of heavy equipment.

Guimbal RTC restrains Capitol’s P100-M loan

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN OPPOSITION member of the Iloilo provincial board secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the P100million loan agreement between Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and the Land bank of the Philippines (LBP).
Judge Teodulo Colada of the Regional Trial Court Branch 67 in Guimbal, Iloilo heeded the plea of BMs Emmanuel Gallar, Macario Napulan, Bernardo Silla and Licurgo Tirador to bar Vice Governor Roberto Armada and 2nd district and majority floor leader Rodolfo Cabado from signing the SP resolution confirming and ratifying the loan agreement.
Gallar filed his motion for declaration of nullity, certiorari, prohibition, injunction and restraining order on Wednesday.
Gallar, through his lawyer and former provincial legal counsel Manuel Justiniani, argued that the loan, which the capitol will use to purchase brand new heavy equipment, is illegal due to the absence of a resolution from the LBP board of directors authorizing Mercy Ann Chiongson, OIC of the LBP-Iloilo Lending Center, to sign the agreement.
The broadcaster-turned-politician also questioned the use of the capitol’s P687.47million Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) as collateral for the loan.
“This loan will cause irreparable injury not only to the SP but also to the whole province. Imagine giving away our IRA share which is the source of the salaries and benefits of our employees aside from the 20 percent development and 5 percent calamity funds,” Gallar said.
When asked why he filed his civil suit docketed as Civil Case No. 300 in Guimbal, the hometown of the Garins who are Tupas’ political rivals, Gallar said it was Justiniani’s choice.
“We have the liberty to file civil suits in any RTC in the province,” Gallar said.
Interestingly, Colada’s son is married to a daughter of former Rep. Oscar Garin who lost to Tupas in the 2004 gubernatorial race.
In issuing the TRO, Colada ordered Armada and Cabado not to affix their signatures, within 20 days, on the resolution which authorized Tupas to consummate the loan in behalf of the province.
The SP passed the said resolution during its regular session on September 27, 2005.
Colada also trashed the motion for inhibition filed by provincial lawyer Salvador Cabaluna “for lack of factual and legal basis.”
‘A travesty of justice’
In a statement to The Guardian, provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada labeled the TRO as “a mockery of our laws and a travesty of justice.”
“In handing down the order, Judge Colada disregarded the failure of the petitioners to establish the irreparable damage and harm that would be caused them as well as ignored the solid arguments of provincial lawyers against the issuance of such TRO,” Mejorada said.
Mejorada also accused the judge of allowing himself to become “a tool for a clear act of political obstructionism, the sole purpose of which is to block the plan of (Governor Niel) Tupas Sr. to acquire new heavy equipment for the province.”
“Judge Colada also showed lack of delicadeza in dismissing outright the motion to inhibit filed by lawyers (Salvador ) Cabaluna III and Teofisto Melliza on the ground that there is animosity between him and the Tupas administration,” he said.
Mejorada also stressed the pending administrative complaint filed by Tupas against Colada before the Supreme Court for a similar act of issuing a TRO, and then an Injunction, last year.
“The injunction was eventually lifted by the Court of Appeals which chided Judge Colada for his refusal to inhibit from that case despite his being “balaye” of (then gubernatorial candidate Oscar) Garin,” Mejorada averred.
Mejorada further said: “The TRO, which Attys. Cabaluna and Melliza received at about 3:35p.m., will make our judicial system look ridiculous. The acts sought to be stopped or prevented – the signing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolution by the floor leader and presiding officer – are a fait accompli. The resolution has already been approved by the Governor even without the signature of Vice Governor Armada as presiding officer. The issue has become moot and academic. There is nothing to stop or restrain.”
The administrator also made potshots at Armada by accusing him of taking part in the legal maneuvering against the loan.
“There is strong reason to believe that Vice Governor Armada is part of this legal maneuver to stop the acquisition of heavy equipment. His overt act of refusing to sign SP Resolution No. 2005-156 despite the fact that it is just a ministerial duty on his part betrays that malicious intent to block this project,” he said.
He also hit the conscience bloc at the SP, which includes Gallar, for not respecting the rule of the majority.
“The petitioners have no right to question SP Resolution No. 2005-156, as they, together with the majority bloc, unanimously voted for its passage during the SP session on September 27, 2005. Such resolution was ratified and made official on October 4, 2005 when the minutes of the previous session were adopted. So how could they now go to court and seek its nullification? If ever, this TRO is an empty, hollow victory for the minority-bloc Board Members. They call themselves the ‘conscience bloc’, but they have the gall to block this vital project that would immensely benefit our people.”


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