Unrest in Muntinlupa?

From a column by Louie Logarta from The Daily Tribune


Muntinlupa City employees, numbering in the few thousands, are described as a restive and disgruntled lot these days because they still have to receive some of their benefits such as their clothing allowance which are due them under the law.

A reliable source in City Hall said that Mayor Aldrin San Pedro has resorted to being tight-fisted, to the point of being unusually hard on his people, because he is nursing a P2.9-billion debt that was incurred from a few banks to fund several public projects over and above their allotted yearly budget.

This is the second time in two years that Muntinlupa workers have complained about not being properly remunerated on time by City Hall for services rendered. In 2010, some 3,000 were reported to have experienced a two-month delay in the payment of salaries and wages which was excruciating for some, especially since most of them live on a hand-to-mouth basis (the Tagalog term being ’sang-kayod, ’san-tuka). Insiders claimed the delay was allegedly an offshoot of the juggling of funds being done by the financial whizzes in the Office of the mayor to address certain budget problems.

Earlier this year, Mayor San Pedro was slapped with slew of corruption complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman by former subordinate Abel Sumabat of the City Hall bids and awards committee for allegedly rigging the purchase contract for three fire trucks and one aerial ladder worth P105 million, as well as the bidding for several choice public infrastructure, road construction and improvement projects totaling some P.5 billion over a period of five years to benefit certain favored suppliers who had the backing of some family members.

One contract award was particularly disturbing as it could endanger the lives of hundreds of students. It involved the construction of the third and fourth floors of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa building amounting to P55 million. Sumabat’s complaint alleged that the contractor wasn’t technically qualified to undertake such a major project per the limitations of his license from the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board.

At the rate he is going, Mayor San Pedro will absolutely be putty in the hands of former Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi, who is going to challenge him in the May 2013 elections.

San Pedro, who is running for his last term in office, is facing an uphill climb in his quest for continued political primacy because Fresnedi has joined forces with re-electionist Rep.Pong Biazon.

Biazon is said to have become disillusioned with San Pedro, who used to be a former protégé, over the issue of rampant corruption.

Among the biggest issues critics are raising against San Pedro is the incurable traffic mess underneath the Alabang flyover which they say is caused by the presence of the numerous sidewalk vendors and illegal terminals of passenger jeepneys, provincial buses, FX vans, etc. who are allegedly all paying several millions in monthly protection money to certain corrupt City Hall officials as well as some others, one of them a former policeman.

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