Umali dares Vergara’s camp to publicly identify emissary offered P20-M HUC bribe try

By Jason de Asis


CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, November 12, 2010–Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali yesterday dared the camp of Cabanatuan City Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara to publicly identify the alleged emissary who offered P20 million to members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) in exchange for their rejection of the city government’s plan to convert the city into a highly urbanized city (HUC).


Umali said the burden of proof falls on the camp of Vergara to prove that the supposed bribery really transpired instead of blaming him and Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos of allegedly attempting to buy the votes of the SP. 


An emissary reportedly identified with the governor and the vice governor supposedly offered P10 million to Vice Mayor Marius Garcia and P1 million to each of the councilors to vote no once the HUC proposal is presented to them by Vergara. 


Vergara did not name the emissary but hinted he was a factor behind the massive corruption under ex-Mayor Alvin Vergara.


Vergara said he was informed that the bribe was meant to sway the pro-Vergara SP to turn their back on the HUC proposal. 


Umali said those behind the bribe rumors should stand up to their accusations and identify the supposed emissary, adding that they should never issue statements without a leg to stand on.


“The people of Cabanatuan should use discernment when it comes to the ticklish issue of the HUC and weigh the larger picture instead of rushing judgment and giving attention to spreading lies, nasty accusations and black propaganda, what should be looked into is what Vergara offered to the SP members to support the proposed conversion,” the governor said.         


“On the contrary, what should be looked into is what he promised the honorable members of the SP to toe the line and take the pro-HUC stance,” he said.


“After all, it is they who need the HUC so who do you think is in a position to entice votes to support their cause? Is it us, I don’t think so,” he said.      


Umali said it is wrong for Vergara to say that a no vote against the HUC would mean one has been bought.”


Earlier, Vergara said whoever is against the progress of Cabanatuan would surely vote against any attempt for the city to gain HUC status. “A ‘No’ vote would mean one has been bought, it is simple as that, it is an indefensible posture,” he said.


“Certainly, the tremendous benefits that an HUC status offers to the city and its populace over-weighs the position that a ‘no-stance’ under the present circumstances present,” he stressed.


Umali said to say one has been bought once he casts the “no” vote is political bribery in itself and of the worst kind.

He said the central issue that should be settled is whether the people of Cabanatuan are willing to seek the help of the provincial government and abdicate their right to vote for a governor of their own choice.      


“If they say they no longer wanted the provincial government to help Cabanatuan, then I will respect their decision,” he said. (Jason de Asis)