By NITZ ARANCON
A LEGAL dispute between the local government of Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, and the agrarian reform department, and subsequent architectural design changes introduced after its mayor stepped down resulted in delays in the construction of the new town hall.
The was the explanation given by Villanueva town’s lawyer Armando Ku and town administrator Ruel Gayuso as they faced the provincial board that started an investigation into the delayed construction project.
The investigation was an offshoot of the complaint of Kilusang Pagbabago members Andres Bade, Emma Zamayla, and Wilfredo Acenas that was submitted to Malacañang regarding the delays in the P112-million municipal hall construction project that startedin May 14, 2014.
Bade said the first phase of the project, amounting to some P50 million, was undertaken by Ron Daniel Construction.
The second phase, for P62 million, was awarded to Lion Convergence Construction and Development Corp., and it started in February 2017. Bade said the project should have been completed this February.
“Asa man diay ang kuwarta anang maong proyekto? Nganong wala pa man mahuman?” Bade said.
Town administrator Gayuso said the project was hounded by a land conversion issue raised by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The department, he said, issued a cease-and-desist order as it asserted that the project site is situated within a 3.5-hectare agricultural property.
The exemption came later, he said.
Ku, the town government’s lawyer, said the construction was delayed because DAR and former mayor Julio Uy waged a legal battle. DAR, he said, had accused the then mayor of illegal conversion. The complaint, however, was subsequently dismissed by the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Ku said the project was further delayed when DAR appealed the case to the Regional Propsecutor’s Office that upheld the first resolution. He said DAR appealed again, and the case reached the court.
The town’s engineer, Juan Tagam, said the project was delayed again when Uy’s daughter Jennie Rosalie took over as mayor in 2016. He said the new mayor introduced architectural design changes in the project.
Tagam said the project’s projected completion date is this Aug. 30.
“Mahuman kini apan dili gyud totally. Na-a pay ginagmay nga kulang,” Tagam said.
Misamis Oriental Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez said the provincial board’s findings would be submitted to Malacañang’s complaints center.
Bade, for his part, said he was dissatisfied with the outcome of yesterday’s investigation “kay wala ma nila isulti asa na ang P112 million.”