Pangasinan mayor slapped with 60-day preventive suspension

August 14, 2012 12:01 am 

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Aug. 13 — A municipal mayor of Pangasinan has been slapped with a 60-day preventive suspension by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in connection with an administrative complaint filed against him before the SP by his own municipal treasurer.

Mayor Ernesto Balolong of Urbiztondo was accused by Municipal Treasurer Loida Cancino of abusing his power by withdrawing part of a P54-million loan of the municipality of Urbiztondo from the Philippine National Bank without any valid ordinance from the Sangguniang Bayan.

The preventive suspension was imposed on Balolong to prevent him from suppressing evidence found in his office while the investigation on his administrative case is still going on.

The town ordinance on the loan was forwarded to the SP for review as required by the Local Government Code and till it is approved, can it be considered a valid ordinance.

It was learned that when the ordinance went through committee hearing by the SP committee on laws, the vote of the chairman was yet needed to break a 2-2 tie and elicit a decision that the passage of the municipal ordinance "was within the conferred powers of the Urbiztondo SP."

The week after, before the decision could be reported out in the plenary, it was reversed by a minority report signed by nine SP members led by Alfonso Bince Jr. that in effect declared it as null.

Bince said that they learned that even before the SP can complete the review of the ordinance, the PNB already released two checks, one for P20,000 and another for P6 million, both in the name of Mayor Balolong, which the latter allegedly used in paying various creditors that loaned materials for the construction of the town auditorium and market stalls.

And that these checks were paid to supposed creditors without any corresponding supplemental budget approved by the Sangguniang Bayan.

Noting the irregularities, town treasurer Cancino filed the administrative complaint before the SP and a separate criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon against the mayor.

During the investigation of the administrative complaint by the committee on public accountability of the SP, the lawyer of Balolong did not appear to defend his client. (PNA) scs/lmm/lmmicua/rma

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