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Gonzalezes deny influencing Ombud on Pavia housing scam

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“DON’T look at us.”

THIS was the reaction of the Gonzalez camp to reports that the Office of the Ombudsman is set to file a plunder case against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas for the P134-million housing project scam.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. denied influencing the Ombudsman to “move” the case after Treñas broke away from their group last month to run for congressman.

“We have nothing to do about any prospective resolution of the Pavia housing case. It is easy for our enemies to attribute to us things that go against them,” Sec. Gonzalez said.

But Sec. Gonzalez said he told the anti-graft body to hide the housing scam case because he was responsible for Treñas’ election as city mayor.

“I did not want any issues to be raised against Treñas because he has just been elected mayor (in 2001). I told the Ombudsman not to prioritize the case,” he added.

Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said they are not surprised if the Ombudsman has resolved the case as it has been languishing in the anti-graft agency for sometime now.

But Rep. Gonzalez, who is seeking re-election against Treñas, denied any hand in any decision of the Ombudsman relative to the anomalous housing project located in Pavia, Iloilo.

“We even wrote the Ombudsman regarding the status of the case because it was not moving. If the Ombudsman has approved the filing of the case, it is because the issue is long overdue and ought to be resolved,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

The housing project, which was financed by a P130-million bond flotation, began in 2001 and was supposed to be completed in 2003.

But in 2002, Rudy Gonzales, a sub-contractor of ACE Builders Enterprises (ABE), the winning contractor of the project, exposed the alleged substandard materials and engineering of the housing units after the ABE failed to pay his services.

Rep. Gonzalez Jr., then a city councilor, led the investigation on the housing project as chairman of the committee on good government.

In 2003, the committee on good government released its findings and recommended the rescission of the contract and the filing of criminal and administrative charges against ABE, Treñas and other City Hall officials.

The committee also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dig deeper into the anomaly.

Three administrative cases relative to the project are docketed as OMB-V-C-03-0715-K, OMB-V-C-03-0716-K and OMB-V-A-03-661-K.

Rep. Gonzalez said the City Council did not approve the committee report, reason why they submitted a copy of the report to the Ombudsman for further investigation.

He said Treñas was included as one of the respondents in the case because he signed the contract with ABE without authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“It was former Mayor Mansueto Malabor who was authorized to sign the contract. Mayor Treñas also failed to endorse the signed contract to the City Council for ratification,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

Rep. Gonzalez added that officials involved in the case should face the charges instead of blaming their group.

“They should answer the issues instead of blaming us,” he said.

Barangay captains trade barbs

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A PUNONG barangay identified with the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said village chiefs loyal to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas are the real political robots.

Brgy. Captain Love Joy Hosenilla of Buntatala, Jaro said his fellow village chief Jonas Antonio Bellosillo is the one acting under the orders of Treñas.

Hosenilla, who replaced Bellosillo as president of Association of Barangay Captains (ABC)-Jaro, issued the statement after Bellosillo accused pro-Gonzalez village chiefs as political robots.

Recalling their previous conversations the past months, Hosenilla said Bellosillo shifted his allegiance from Gonzalez to Treñas because the mayor was pressuring Bellosillo.

Treñas is running for congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., son of Sec. Gonzalez Sr.

“At first, he said he was for Rep. Gonzalez Jr. for congressman and Sec. Gonzalez Sr. for mayor. Then he changed his tune and will go for the Treñas (congressman)-Gonzalez (mayor) ticket. Jonas again changed his mind and will go all out for Treñas only because the mayor was pressuring him,” Hosenilla said.

The ABC-Jaro ousted Bellosillo as president after signing a resolution expressing lack of confidence in the latter’s leadership last December 10, 2009.

The resolution also declared the presidency of ABC-Jaro vacant, which paved the way for Hosenillo’s assumption of the top office being the group’s vice president.

A total of 23 Jaro barangay captains signed the resolution, a copy of which was given to the The Daily Guardian

Hosenilla said Bellosillo’s constant change of allegiance disillusioned other village chiefs of his capability to lead ABC-Jaro.

Hosenilla also claimed that Treñas also told Punong Barnagay Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin, City Proper to withdraw his resignation as president of ABC-Iloilo City proper.

“They are the political robots because they bow to Mayor Treñas’ wishes,” he added.

Hosenilla also objected to Bellosillo’s statement that the village chiefs who signed the resolution are ignorant.

“Many of our members are businessmen, professionals with college degrees while another studied law. Why would he call us ignorant? Well, I would prefer to be called ignorant because I will still learn than being labeled a balimbing (turncoat) because that is synonymous to being a traitor,” he said.

Not recognized?   

Hosenilla said Treñas also contradicted his own statement that he will not recognize ABC presidents who replaced his allies when the mayor issued Executive Order No. 53, series of 2009.

The EO designated Bellosillo as manager of the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair in connection with the 2010 Jaro fiesta celebration.

While she does not question Treñas’ power to appoint people who will manage the fair, Hosenilla said the EO recognized Bellosillo’s ouster as ABC-Jaro president.

Hosenilla quoted the second whereas clause of the EO which says: “Whereas, regrettably with the replacement of Punong Barangay Bellosillo as President of the Association of Barangay Captains of the District of Jaro, there is a need to revoke Executive Order No. 14, series of 2009 in order the maintain the continuity of the success of the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair under the able leadership of Punong Barangay Bellosillo.”

“The mayor himself already admitted in his order that Bellosillo was already replaced, so why will he not recognize us?” Hosenilla said.

Hosenilla said they will assist Bellosillo in running the Jaro fiesta fair “provided the same working committees in this year’s fair will remain.”

“We will help him as long as he does not make changes in the working committees,” Hosenilla said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AT 78, former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. is raring to work as Iloilo City’s top official.

The former justice department chief and staunch defender of the Arroyo regime even joked with journalists when asked about the status of his health.

“I am okay. Kung may gwapa da, maupod man ko (If there’s a beautiful lady there, I am willing to date her),” Sec. Gonzalez said after filing his certificate of candidacy for city mayor along with his slate.

Sec. Gonzalez underwent kidney transplant two years ago, prompting his family to advise him to quit government service.

But Sec. Gonzalez said President Gloria Arroyo told him to stay in her cabinet.

“I almost retired after my operation because my family was unanimous in saying that I should retire. But the President told me to face the challenges of the future and not to resign. If I retire, I will get weaker and deteriorate. And I heeded the President’s advice,” he added.

Gonzalez said he decided to run for mayor “because I feel I have not amortized my debt of gratitude to the people of Iloilo City.”

“These are the people who made what I am today. If I have an ounce more of strength to use to serve, I will use it here in Iloilo City which I have grown to love,” Gonzalez said.

The former justice secretary said his top priority if elected mayor is to hasten the construction of the Iloilo City Hall; immediate resolution of the Iloilo City housing project in Pavia, Iloilo; and proper accounting of City Hall funds and properties.

He also vowed to address the problem of substandard roads in Iloilo City.

However, critics blame the substandard roads to International Builders Construction, Inc., which is perceived as the favored contractor of Gonzalez.

Gonzalez’s son, incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., is seeking his last 3-year term. Councilor Antonio Pesina is running for vice mayor.

The Gonzalez group’s “councilorables” under the Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD include incumbent Councilors Jeffrey Ganzon, Ely Estante and Eldrid Antiquiera, lawyer Eugenio Original, businessman Pax Ngo, broadcaster Salvador “Jun” Capulot Jr., Quirico Mendoza Jr., Engr. Mike Chin, Constantino Abellar, Ernesto Jardeleza Jr., Gudelia Coo and Jose Ma. dela Llana.

July 2020

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