• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez has requested the Sangguniang Panlungsod for an authority to sign the proposed loan agreement of the Bacolod City government with Land Bank of the Philippines in the amount of P5.5 billion.
Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran yesterday said the SP Committee on Laws chaired by Councilor Al Victor Espino and the SP Committee on Finance chaired by Councilor Jude Thaddeus Sayson accepted the request during last week’s regular session and will be submitting a committee report, after conducting a committee conference yesterday with LBP and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Benitez said the construction of a legislative building and the establishment of five mini hospitals in strategic areas in Bacolod will be among the projects they are planning to implement using the loan.
The mayor explained, during a press conference, that all projects to be implemented using the P5.5 billion loan will have to pass through the SP. This is an omnibus loan or a standby loan, and he will have to seek the approval of the SP where the loan will be spent.
Benitez said that aside from the city’s health care system, they also plan to spend the loan for peace and order, roads, infrastructure and relocation sites.
The five mini hospitals they are planning to spread across Bacolod, in order to make health care accessible to the public, will be established in existing lots owned by the city. These hospitals will be equipped with doctors who will be available 24/7, will have laboratories and hospital beds, he said.
Benitez said they want to provide these health services to the people.
“These things can’t wait. I don’t mind securing a loan to implement these services,” he said adding that the loan will be payable in 15 years.
Benitez also pointed out that the city fully paid its loan for the construction of the Bacolod City Government Center just last year.
Land Bank has offered the city a fixed interest rate at 3.70 percent, fixed for three years, after which it will be subject for repricing.
Meanwhile, Familiaran said the construction of a legislative building with a proposed budget of P500 million is in preparation for the possible division of Bacolod City into two legislative districts.
He said the P5.5 billion to be secured by the current administration is a standby loan so in case the city has important projects, it will have sources of funds available. However, the P1.7 billion loan secured by the previous administration already had an intended project and proposed budget. They secured the loan because they need funds to finance these projects.
It can be recalled that the budget was spent for the construction of a coliseum, museum, facilities for the Bacolod City College, and for the purchase of a relocation site.*