Cebu News

Committee: Bolo with them during Balili lot inspection


CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu Provincial Appraisal Committee revealed yesterday that beleaguered provincial board member Juan Bolo knew the physical characteristics of the Balili property including the presence of the fishpond prior to the sale of the property to Capitol because he was with the members of the committee when they conducted the ocular inspection in 2007.

The provincial board also agreed yesterday to create an ad hoc committee, which will be co-chaired by the heads of the committees on complaints and investigation and the ethics committee, to lead the fact-finding investigation primarily in aid of “curative legislation.”  

Provincial assessor Anthony Sususco, who chairs the appraisal committee, said it was Bolo who introduced the members of the committee to Amparo Balili during their ocular inspection of the 25-hectare property in Tinaan, Naga a week after the board member requested that the property be appraised.

Sususco’s testimony before the provincial board, which is conducting a fact-finding investigation into the Balili fiasco, is contrary to Bolo’s previous claims that he did not have information about the physical characteristics of the property because he only relied on the title.

Sususco together with the two other members of the appraisal committee, provincial treasurer Roy Salubre and provincial engineer Eulogio Pelayre, appeared in the provincial board special session yesterday to shed light on the controversial Balili land deal.

Bolo did not deny nor admit being with the appraisal committee when the ocular inspection of the property was conducted. He said he could no longer recall because it happened long time ago.

He however denied receiving a copy of the report of the technical working group tasked by the appraisal committee to gather opinion on the land valuation. The TWG report contained a vicinity map of the property showing the mangroves, fishpond, seaside and other physical characteristics of the property.

The report, according to vice governor Gregorio Sanchez and board member Victor Maambong, are very vital information that could have guided them in their actions towards the resolution that gave authority to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to purchase the property.

Maambong said they were not aware of it because this information was not presented to them by Bolo.

Bolo said the appraisal committee also did not furnish him a copy of the TWG report, which Sususco claimed an integral part of their resolution containing the appraisal of the Balili property.

Asked if he has proof such as transmittal letter that the report was in deed received by the office of Bolo, Sususco said it was assistant provincial assessor Mariflor Vero who also acted as secretary of the appraisal committee who was responsible for it.

Maambong questioned Sususco why the TWG report was not mentioned in the resolution of the committee. But, Sususco explained that they purposely used “general terms” in the resolution because the TWG report was made an integral part and was all contained in the folder that the committee gave to Bolo.

Bolo admitted he did not have the authority from the provincial board when he requested for the appraisal of the property in 2007, but he explained that he took the cue from the governor.

According to him, when he talked to Garcia about the property the latter told him to inquire about the price. Bolo said he took it as an authority for him to write the appraisal committee and request for the appraisal.

The provincial board called for a special session yesterday to continue its fact-finding investigation into the Balili fiasco.

The board invited the members of the appraisal committee and lawyer Romeo Balili, the executor of the Balili estate which owns the property bought by the provincial government last year.

Balili was grilled once again by Maambong, who confronted him about his testimony during the last session that he was not aware of any pending reversion case involving the Balili property.

Maambong yesterday presented a court document that shows Romeo Balili represented as counsel for Amparo Balili, widow of Engineer Luis Balili, in the reversion case before the Regional Trial Court Branch 57 in Cebu City.

The document dated February 10, 1997 Romeo Balili filed an opposition to the motion to declare Amparo Balili in default. Romeo Balili was forced to admit that it was him who filed the motion but was also quick in his alibi that he suffered memory gap because of aneurism.

Balili said he was a survivor of aneurism in May 1999 and was in comma for 16 days that could have affected his memory. In fact, he said there was a time that he did not anymore recognize his children.

While he claimed to have suffered from memory loss, but Balili could still vividly recall the date and the place where he collapsed because of aneurism.

Balili was also questioned on why there were two bank accounts used to deposit the payment of the Capitol.

He explained that the first check was not accepted by the bank because it was paid under his name and that the account was under the Balili estate. According to Balili, he was advised by the bank manager to open another account with the widow.

He reiterated his claim that the money is still intact, but could not present a bank certificate claiming that the bank has not yet issued because it needs approval from Manila. —Fred P. Languido/NLQ (THE FREEMAN)

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