By NITZ ARANCON
THE Bulua landowner accused by mayoral candidate Jose Gabriel La Viña of extorting from contractors of the public works department strongly denied the former agriculture undersecretary’s allegation.
“Toll fee,” said Engr. Hilario Balbin of what he asked from the contractor Jay-car Construction for the use of a portion of his Bulua property.
Balbin said the contractor started work on the road project that would link the highway in Bulua to the Bayabas-Opol section of the coastal road, and opted to use a portion of his property to get to the project site in 2015.
He said he asked a “toll fee” of P10 for every dump truck moving filling materials to the project site given the damages the operations would cause his private road.
Balbin said he agreed to allow the contractor to pass through his property because the initial construction works at that time were in line with the original road plan that was agreed on during a public consulation in Bulua.
Balbin said he would later find himself spending for the repair of some 300 meters of the private road.
“Alkansi gihapon ko kay pag-pullout nila (contractor), akong gipa-ayo ang akong dalan. Naka-gasto pa kog P45 thousand,” he told the Gold Star Daily.
Balbin and other landowners have complained about the revised road plan that diverts the direction of the road project towards their and La Viña’s properties rather than constructing a straight one from the Bulua highway near the regional office of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
La Viña has criticized Balbin and even questioned the engineer’s ownership claim over one of the Bulua properties.
The politician has denied Balbin’s allegation that a dispute over the revised road plan prompted him to badmouth Balbin. What happened, according to La Viña, was that he scolded Balbin for allegedly extorting from contractors.