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Smoked fish and Biñan Mayor Dimaguila

Why he is displeased with this development is strange because he ought to welcome the thought that the SK has decided to take legal action to protect its interests.

Victor Avecilla

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This commentary is about the ongoing fund mess plaguing Barangay Biñan in the City of Biñan in Laguna Province. The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) has been complaining since 2019 that the barangay council refuses to release, for the longest time, the entirety of the funds the SK is entitled to by law, and that whatever sums of money have been so far turned over by the barangay council to the SK are a mere pittance.

That fund mess was first exposed in this newspaper in November 2019, then in January 2020, and again in December 2020.

Back in 2019, the SK sought the help of Malacañang regarding the anomaly. When Palace personnel called up Biñan City Mayor Walfrido Dimaguila Jr. about it, the mayor promised to look into the problem. He made that promise during pre-Covid-19 times. The coronavirus pandemic has been with us for about a year already and today, the SK funds problem remains unsolved.

As far as SK Chairman Luigi Biraogo is concerned, it looks like Mayor Dimaguila only paid lip service to the Malacañang inquiry. Meanwhile, the SK can hardly function because it has no money to finance its projects and operations.

Since then, the fund mess in Barangay Biñan has escalated to include what some barangay council members allege as illegal disbursements. They also reported that Reingel Pelaez, the barangay council chairman, has not been calling regular barangay meetings. Not a few barangay councilors want Pelaez removed from office.

The SK leadership wants an explanation from city hall because, as mentioned earlier, Mayor Dimaguila promised Malacañang that he will look into this problem, but the matter remains unresolved. Biraogo thinks another call to the Palace may be necessary.

A number of barangay councilors who are sympathetic to the plight of the SK think that the city mayor does not seem to care about what is taking place in the barangay.

Nobody in Barangay Biñan knows if Mayor Dimaguila has ordered Pelaez to fix up the fund mess in his barangay. There are reports that Pelaez is occupied with “other matters.”

Exasperated, and with no light at the end of the tunnel in sight, the SK went to court last December 2020 to finally get the funds the SK is legally entitled to. In their petition for mandamus filed with the Regional Trial Court of Biñan City, the SK asked the court to compel the barangay council and the barangay treasurer to release the pertinent funds to the SK forthwith.

The mandamus case is currently pending in court. Atty. Noel Damot, a litigation lawyer, is representing the SK. According to Biraogo, they have yet to receive a reply or comment from the respondents, who are expected to be represented by the city attorney of Biñan.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Mayor Dimaguila was upset to learn that the barangay council was sued by the SK. Why he is displeased with this development is strange because he ought to welcome the thought that the SK has decided to take legal action to protect its interests, instead of just waiting forever for the problem to resolve itself.

People in the know in the barangay say that Mayor Dimaguila was disturbed to find out that the SK fund issue is being monitored by this newspaper. That notwithstanding, a noted city politician disclosed that as far as the city mayor is concerned, this newspaper has no readers, and that it is fit only for wrapping tinapa or smoked fish.

If the foregoing story about the tinapa is true, then Dimaguila should have no reason to be upset about this newspaper’s coverage of the fund mess in Barangay Biñan, and if this newspaper continues to monitor the developments in the barangay.

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