Benguet officials clash over P33M in infrastructure projects

By Delmar Cariño
Last updated 00:34am (Mla time) 06/27/2007

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET — Debate marked the provincial board’s last session here over a list of infrastructure projects worth P33 million which some officials claimed was a case of midnight appropriation.


The clash on Monday over a provincial development council resolution that endorsed the projects took close to three hours to settle amid observations that the measure actually brought Governor Borromeo Melchor and Mayor Nestor Fongwan onto a collision course.


Fongwan, who beat Melchor in the May 14 gubernatorial contest, will assume office on June 30.


The governor’s office finalized the list of 135 projects that had been endorsed by the provincial development council (PDC) to the provincial board for approval.


Melchor heads the five-member council with Fongwan as member representing the province’s mayors.


Fongwan did not sign the PDC resolution, saying the budget for the projects in the list did not “operationalize” the approved town and barangay (village) development plans.


In his letter to the PDC, Fongwan said “some concerned sectors and key personnel of the provincial government were allegedly not consulted for comments on the fund proposals for the projects.”


Board Member Lizo Agpas, committee chairman on appropriations, said the formulation of the projects and the PDC resolution complied with existing regulations.


He said Fongwan’s observations were merely “hearsay” and called for the provincial board to vote on the PDC resolution since the projects had been properly studied and meant to develop the villages.


But Board Members Aloysius Kato and Johnny Uy objected to the motion calling for a vote on the PDC resolution since it appeared that the measure was being unusually fast tracked.


“The P33 million is a midnight appropriation,” Kato later told reporters.


Kato and Uy urged the provincial board to defer action on the measure and leave its fate to the incoming set of board members.


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