DAGUPAN CITY, July 31— The transfer of the Dagupan City hall to a land to be donated by the brother of Mayor Belen Fernandez is now possible following a legal opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) dated July 26, 2017.
This was bared in a privilege speech of Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo before the City Council on Monday.
Tamayo is the author of a draft ordinance seeking the transfer of the Dagupan City Hall from A. B. Fernandez Avenue to the Pantal-Lucao area which was subjected to a city-wide public consultation early this month and gained overwhelming endorsement from the people.
DILG Opinion No. 15, series of 2017 signed by DILG Undersecretary Austere A. Panadero responded to the two questions posed by seven members of the city council whether they will be liable for violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act if they pass the ordinance and whether Mayor Belen Fernandez will also be liable for violation of the same act if she will accept the donation of her brother by reason of “conflict of interest” on account of the perceived increase in value of the adjacent properties.
The DILG opinion came on the heels of a favorable opinion rendered by the Commission on Audit (COA) early in July that it is perfectly legal if Mayor Belen Fernandez accepts and signs the deed of donation and neither will there be a conflict of interest on her part if she does.
On the issue of conflict of interest, Panadero stated that the SP members who would sign the ordinance transferring the city hall to the parcel of land to be donated by the brother of the mayor are not liable for anti-graft and corrupt practices act as Republic Act No. 6713 and the Corrupt Practices Act mentioned in Paragraph (h) and (i) of RA 3019 presupposes that the public official in faithfully performing an official duty will oppose or affect his own interest is a private corporation or business which he is affiliated.
The DILG noted that Mr. Kerwin Fernandez, the brother of the mayor, is the only one in Dagupan who is offering to donate a property as site of the new City Hall.
Hence, the DILG said, in enacting the ordinance, the members of the SP cannot be said to have given unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference mentioned in Paragraph (c) of RA 3029 in favor of Mr. Kerwin Fernandez.
With regard to the second query of the SP on whether Mayor Fernandez will be liable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act if she accepts the land donation from her own brother, the DILG said “we also reply in the negative”.
Undersecretary Panadero said that that they are of the view that the corresponding increase in the value of the parcels of land adjoining the donated is only incidental.
In fact it noted that it is not only the CSI Group of Companies, of which Mayor Fernandez is a shareholder and the mayor herself, who will benefit by such increase in value of properties but also other owners of properties adjoining the area.
After the session, Councilor Tamayo said with the opinion of DILG, all legal impediments to the passage of the ordinance seeking the transfer of the city hall were already put out of the way, and thus the passage of the measure is now a certainty.
He said the resolution he also sponsored seeking other landowners in the Pantal-Lucao area to also donate their lands to the city as an alternative site of the city hall would expire next week with no offer so far received by the city. (lvmicua/PNA)