CLARK FREEPORT – Despite serving a 90-day preventive suspension ordered by the Ombudsman, Guagua town Mayor Dante Torres remains confident that his municipality could become the next investment haven in the province.
Torres is currently under preventive suspension, his third, which stemmed from another complaint filed by his political opponent for technical malversation.
During the weekly “Balitaan” media forum organized by the Capampangan in Media, Inc. in cooperation with the Clark Development Corp. at the Bale Balita here on Friday, Torres was convinced that Guagua is destined to become the next investment haven because the town is not only fast developing but more importantly investor-friendly.
“I can boast to you that we do not ask for money from investors,” Torres said, with investors in Guagua given the hour after applying. He cited as an example Savemore supermarket whose officials approached him since they needed to secure a business permit the following day but lacked an “occupancy permit” because they needed to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Torres said Savemore was given a business permit within the hour.
The Savemore officials were so grateful he said that they supported him in the last elections. “I told them to tell everybody that in Guagua, investors are not given the runaround and officials don’t ask for money from them,” he said.
Torres said employment generation is enough compensation for him. “But if you ask them for money, that won’t suit them well,” he said. Torres said Guagua now is almost flood-free.
He said only about 20 percent of the town is affected by floods but soon the entire town will be flood-free.
He said inner roads in the poblacion like Bangcal are being renovated and improved.
Guagua is considered one of the wealthiest towns because of its vast fishing industry.
Torres said if everything turns out well, Guagua will be home to an economic zone sanctioned by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
He said he has already informed 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who expressed support for his plan to put up an economic zone.
Torres said barangays Ascomo and Pulungmasle have a 100-hectare land which is suitable for an economic zone since it straddles the boundaries of the towns of Guagua and Porac.
Another case Meanwhile, Torres said his political opponents in Guagua are plotting another case against him to get him suspended anew.
“All this is politically motivated,” he said. Torres said his series of suspensions has adversely affected local governance.
His third suspension is a preventive one, Torres explained, and not a penalty as the first one in 2016 for signing a marriage contract which he allegedly did not officiate.
The current suspension is based on charge of technical malversation that apparently has something do with public infrastructure in the town plaza.
Torres said his second suspension, also a preventive one, was also for alleged technical malversation involving the town’s slaughterhouse which was started by his predecessor. He said he had nothing to do with the project.
Despite the suspensions, however, Guagua has been a consistent awardee for good local governance for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“We have already won three Seal for Local Good Governance awards and working on the fourth one,” he said.
The mayor started serving his third suspension on May 29 and will end in August.
Vice Mayor Sajid Khan Eusoof is now Guagua officer-in-charge.