SP IN MAYHEM
The Iloilo provincial capitol is a grandiose and proud image but within its trappings, discord pervades aong members of the provincial board.
Armada-Oso tiff gets ugly
By Francis Allan L. Angelo
CHAOS now rules the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo.
Legislative courtesy at the provincial board took the backseat as two of its prominent members continued to trade barbs over the Capitol’s P100-million loan.
And as the days went by, the verbal tussle between Vice Governor Roberto Armada and his former college teacher and 4th district board member Domingo Oso also got ugly.
In his privilege speech during the SP’s regular session Wednesday, Oso called Armada a “co-conspirator of the minority bloc” that secured a temporary restraining order against the loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
Oso said Armada betrayed his participation in efforts to derail the loan by not signing the resolution approving and ratifying the said agreement.
Oso did not spare the minority composed of BMs Emmanuel Gallar, Bernardo Silla, Macario Napulan and Licurgo Tirador by calling them the “conscienceless bloc.”
He said the act of the monitory “abetted by the vice governor” was “un-parliamentary.”
“First, they did not object when we approved the resolution ratifying the loan. All of a sudden they go to the Regional Trial Court presided by the balaye of Governor Niel Tupas’ political opponent last year. Is this parliamentary conduct?” Oso said.
After the privilege speech, it was Armada’s turn to lambast his former mentor when he requested the deletion the term “co-conspirator” from the minutes of the session.
However, Oso insisted that all he said against the vice governor be put on record.
Flustered and irritated, Armada told Oso: “I want to put this on record. Thank you for being a rabid attack dog of the administration.”
But the tiff did not stop at the session hall as Armada and Oso continued to throw potshots at each other over Bombo Radyo yesterday.
With anchorman Ted Francia acting referee, the two officials continued to display their dirty linens on air.
Armada said his fellow teacher took things to personally by calling him names.
“I only wanted to delete what he said against me as it will be enshrined in the archives of the SP forever. Even we patch things up, what he said will remain part of the annals of the 8th Sanggunian,” Armada said.
Armada added he already told BM Niel “Jun Jun” Tupas Jr. that he will not sign the resolution but only the minutes.
But if Oso is adamant in what he uttered during the session, Armada said: “I cannot force him to like me. I don’t really care.”
Meanwhile, Oso said he only criticized the vice governor for sitting on the resolution for the LBP loan.
“What I was attacking was his conduct and not his person. He was the one made personal comments,” Oso said.
The board member also blamed Armada for the schism within the SP.
“He does not care to settle our differences despite my suggestions to do so. He always says ‘I have no jurisdiction over it’. He is like the only person I know in the Bible who washes his hands – Pontius Pilate. If he is a responsible father to the SP, he should initiate moves to settle our conflicts,” Oso said.
Oso particularly cited the administrative case filed against BM Cecilia Capadosa which he alluded to Gallar.
But Gallar joined in the fray saying he did not file the case but the People’s Graftwatch of Iloilo, Inc.
Armada did not let Oso’s comment pass as he called the former a “liar.”
“BM Oso has not been attending the last four executive sessions I have been calling. He never approached me ask for my help as regards the cases against the other board members,” Armada said.
Despite their heated exchange, Armada said he is willing to patch things up with his former professor.
But Oso retorted: “The vice governor does not have to say or wait for someone to tell to settle our differences. His sincerity will only discerned from his actions.”
Inhibit Guimbal judge, CA asked
NINE provincial board members yesterday asked the Court of Appeals to stop Judge Teodolo A. Colada of the Regional Trial Court based in Guimbal, Iloilo from continuing to hear the civil case filed by the so-called “conscience bloc” in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to derail the P100-million loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
In an 18-page petition, the board members said Colada committed “grave abuse of discretion” in handing down a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Vice Governor Roberto Armada and Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo “Boy” Cabado to stop them from signing a resolution that ratified the loan agreement between the Province and Land Bank.
The petition for certiorari, TRO and injunction was filed yesterday by provincial lawyer Teofisto “Pet” Melliza and board member Niel C. Tupas, Jr. before the Court of Appeals in Cebu City. The case will be raffled on Monday.
The majority-bloc board members said Colada displayed apparent bias and partiality as he conducted a “charade” during the hearing for the TRO on Oct. 27 by preventing their counsels from presenting their own evidence and turned down their motion for inhibition against him.
They asked the CA to dissolve the TRO and force Colada to inhibit himself from the case.
“(Colada) never gave herein petitioners the opportunity to cross-examine exhaustively the respondents’ witnesses, and much less, present a single witness and offer evidence,” the petitioners alleged through their counsels, Atty. Salvador Cabaluna III and Melliza.
The case was filed before the RTC in Guimbal by board members Emmanuel R. Gallar, Bernardo Silla, Macario Napulan and Licurgo Tirador.
Gallar and company are asking Colada to nullify the loan agreement between the Province of Iloilo and Land Bank for alleged defects in the contract, a claim that provincial officials are disputing.
“This is an effort to derail the acquisition of heavy equipment that are badly needed for the repair and maintenance of our roads,” Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said.
The P100-million loan is intended to finance the purchase of brand-new heavy equipment for the Provincial Engineers Office (PEO).
In their petition, the nine board members --- Rodolfo Cabado, Domingo Oso, Niel Tupas Jr., Cecilia Capadosa, Romeo Palmares Sr., Eric Barbosa Sr., Angel Briones, Jeneda Salcedo and Lilia Gonzales --- charged Colada with undue haste and bias in dealing with the case.
“There was no hearing to speak of,” they claimed. “All that transpired was a charade.”
The petitioners also assailed Colada’s persistence in hearing the case despite the existing enmity between them arising from the administrative case some of them had filed against the RTC judge. The case is pending before the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court time and again has reaffirmed the dictum that it is not enough for a judge to be impartial,” they pointed out. “He or she must also be above suspicion of partiality,” they added, citing a long string of High Court decisions.
Colada is the same judge who stopped the Iloilo provincial government from releasing the P100 monthly allowances for more than 8,000 barangay health workers, day care workers and population service volunteers just before the 2004 elections.
At the time, his son’s father-in-law, or “balaye” in the dialect, Cong. Oscar Garin, was running against Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. for the gubernatorial post.
The petitioners also alleged that Colada granted the TRO sought by Gallar and company despite the latter’s failure to show that they will suffer grave and irreparable injury and damages as a result of the passage of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolution.
They said that the testimony of Gallar about suffering “tremendous shame that could not be paid for by money (daku nga kahuy-anan nga indi mabaydan sang kwarta)” is not the kind of irreparable damage or injury contemplated in a special civil action for injunction and TRO.
Moreover, the petitioners pointed out that Gallar and company did not even raise a “whimper of protest” when the questioned resolution was taken up by the Sangguiang Panlalawigan in its session on Sept. 27.
“It was approved unanimously,” they asserted.
In assailing the complaint filed by Gallar, the petitioners also asked whether Gallar, a former broadcaster, could read or write in English, as the contract he was trying to have nullified did not contain provisions that would allow Land Bank to “gobble up the entire IRA fund of the province.”
The Gallar complaint was also trying to nullify a resolution that is already a “fait accompli”, a done deal, the petitioners said.
At the time the TRO was issued, Cabado had already signed the resolution, and the document was approved by Tupas on Oct. 17 after the SP secretary issued a certification that Armada had refused to perform his ministerial duty to attest to the passage of the resolution.
“It stretches the imagination why public respondent (Colada), despite manifestation by herein petitioners to that effect, still issued the assailed order insteading of dismissing (it),” they said. (Published in The Guardian Western Visayas, November 4, 2005 issue)