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Is Biñan, Laguna Mayor Dimaguila aware of Barangay Biñan anomaly?

For Biraogo and his SK colleagues, it looks like Mayor Dimaguila is a traditional politician because he only paid lip service to his promise to look into the Barangay Biñan mess.

Victor Avecilla

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The youth leaders of Barangay Biñan in the City of Biñan, Laguna Province are up in arms about a large-scale anomaly being perpetrated by certain officials of their Sangguniang Barangay (barangay council) involving millions of pesos in unaccounted public funds.

Exacerbating their anger is their suspicion that Biñan City Mayor Walfrido Dimaguila Jr. is tolerating the anomaly for reasons that are not disclosed.

According to Mr. Luigi Biraogo, chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of Barangay Biñan, the barangay council of Barangay Biñan refuses to release the funds which the SK is entitled to receive from the barangay council pursuant to Republic Act 10742, or the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015, and under Joint Memorandum Circular 1, Series of 2019, issued by the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the National Youth Commission.

Biraogo said that since the SK assumed office in July 2018 up to the present, the barangay council remitted to the SK the measly amount of a little more than P500,000. That means the barangay council still owes the SK more than P3 million as of December 2020, Biraogo asserted.

Documents produced by Biraogo indicate that the SK made repeated formal requests to the barangay council for the release of the funds, but their requests were ignored.

Some of the barangay officials tacitly admitted that the SK funds were already spent by the barangay council for other purposes, and that they have the tacit support of Mayor Dimaguila in the next barangay elections.

The chairman of the barangay council of Biñan is Reingel A. Pelaez, while the elected barangay councilors are Rudy Ella, Joel Aviso, Ricardo Tolentino Jr., Narlito G. Cambal, Josephine Deveza, Daniel Vito, and Reynaldo Bonifacio. Aviso and Vito, however, seem sympathetic to the cause of the SK.

So far, the barangay council has not formally responded to the written requests made by the SK.

Last week, the SK filed a petition for mandamus in the Regional Trial Court of Biñan City, directed at the barangay council and the barangay treasurer as respondents. Through the petition, which was docketed as Civil Case B-10651, the SK wants the court to compel the barangay council and the barangay treasurer to release the balance of all funds that the SK is entitled to receive under the law.

Being the SK chairman, Biraogo represents the SK in the petition. The SK members are Maria Navarro, Grant Soriano, Kiara Garcia, Fatima Dizon, Dino Canedo, Patricia Tarre and Carlos Almencion.

Biraogo and the SK members expressed confidence that the court will rule in their favor.

Aside from the petition for mandamus, Biraogo and the SK are planning to file other cases against the chairman and the members of the barangay council.

Drafts of the pleadings to be filed include administrative complaints anchored on, among others, the barangay council’s unjustified refusal to perform a ministerial duty mandated by law, and the failure of the barangay council to formally reply to the letters sent to it by the SK.

Biraogo also said that they intend to file criminal charges against the chairman and members of the barangay council for multiple violations of Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Documents shown by Biraogo also reveal that on an earlier occasion, he reported the Barangay Biñan mess to the public complaints office in Malacañang. Acting promptly on the Biraogo report, the complaints office called the attention of Mayor Dimaguila to the mess. Dimaguila promised to look into the matter.

For Biraogo and his SK colleagues, it looks like Mayor Dimaguila is a traditional politician because he only paid lip service to his promise to look into the Barangay Biñan mess. They insist that Dimaguila did nothing and simply allowed the anomaly to continue. For that, Biraogo suspects that there may be legal liability on the part of Dimaguila.

At any rate, several citizens of Biñan believe that the failure of Mayor Dimaguila to address the Barangay Biñan mess will be a major issue against him if and when he runs for reelection in May 2022.

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