Congressional candidate Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia yesterday said it is misleading to say that the total loans incurred by the city for its major projects is P1.4 billion as alleged by his political opponents.
The Bacolod City government has only availed of a total of P647,731,157 from three financial institutions namely Philippine National Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines and Philippine Veterans Bank, for the construction of its major projects like the government center and sanitary landfill, among others, he said.
The loan issue is being used by the camp of mayoralty candidate Monico Puentevella during their political sorties and in media and political caucuses, and was also raised by congressional candidate Lyndon Caña during a congressional debate in Bombo Radyo yesterday.
Caña said he is running on a platform of change and that Leonardia is leaving Bacolod with the biggest public debt in the entire history, amounting to P1.4 billion including principal and interest.
Leonardia said it is misleading and an exaggeration to say that the loan of the city is P1.4 billion. Since they have started paying the loans, the current balance is only about P480 million. He also pointed out that everyone avails of loans even countries like the United States.
If they did not avail of a loan could the government center have been constructed? he asked.
Leonardia also recalled that Caña when he was a councilor of Bacolod did not vote for the government center.
Meanwhile, the Nationalist People's Coalition–Grupo Progreso, in a press statement, scored Puentevella for also misleading the public by disseminating lies that the city government under the administration of Leonardia has an outstanding loan of P1.4 billion as of the year 2013, thus sacrificing the delivery of basic services.
Official records, will those that the estimated loan balance of the city, plus interest, is only P1,027,971,717.20 (P1.027 B) payable up to the year 2022, it said.
The group said the city government has started paying its obligation to the different financial institutions, therefore its loan balance has already been reduced.
Out of the P647,731,547.12 actual principal loan availed of from the PNB, DBP and PVB, the city government has already paid the principal loan of P167,188,815.12 as of December 31 2012, the release said.
This means that the total outstanding loan of the city is currently only at P480,542,732.05, excluding interest, it added.
The loan was utilized by the city government to finance projects that helped sustain the growth and progress of Bacolod such as the government center, sanitary landfill, the acquisition of the Arao property and the development of Granada-Vista Alegre relocation site, among others, the release said.
“These funds went to good use and we never misappropriated or deposited to any personal bank account, contrary to what Puentevella had done to the P50.5 million funds from the Philippine Sports Commission for the Bacolod SEA Games Organizing Committee (BASOC), that he had deposited to his personal bank account, it added.*CGS