“In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress ‘suspects.’” —Noam Chomsky
By Alex P. Vidal
SINCE the news broke out early this year that several characters with “strong” connections in the city hall were behind the thievery or unauthorized collections of fees, among other anomalies in the Iloilo Central Market, no names of suspects have surfaced yet.
Officially no one has been identified or charged in any formal report.
Media also failed to zero in on the real identities of the culprits as they were waiting for Councilor Rodel Agado to spill the beans.
Although some names have surfaced in the gossip mill, nobody has owned up to the anomalies and bitterly deny any wrongdoing or culpability.
It boggles the mind why Agado was hard-pressed to mention their names since they were already allegedly identified by witnesses.
In fact, it appears that Agado, a public market habitue even before he became a public official, knows some of them.
Agado, chair of the market committee, who blew the whistle on these unscrupulous city hall employees, have failed to name them in his recent privileged speech in the regular session of the city council.
Agado only exhorted the “suspects” to defend themselves from accusations hurled against them when his committee conducts a formal investigation starting November 13.
In other words, the people will only speculate about the identities of these suspects who will be known only once they are invited in the hearing.
What if none of those to be invited will show up during the committee investigation?
The law cannot compel them to appear and incriminate themselves.
How can they honor any invitation to appear in the committee hearing when there is no formal complaint lodged against them yet?
How can one defend himself if there are no formal charges filed against him?
“Except for one who has already been dismissed for tapping on city power lines to run his dormitory and water business, at least eight of these suspects will be invited to come to that hearing to defend themselves,” said Agado as quoted in a report by city hall beat reporter and columnist Wenceslao Mateo in the October 30 issue of The Daily Guardian.
Mateo’s report said one suspect “is a market official charged for allegedly usurping the power of the mayor to appropriate and approve stall occupancies.”
The guy, Mateo’s report added, “is also suspected of employing dummies at the market after witnesses claimed that he allegedly paid for the rentals of several delinquent stall occupants.”
“Another suspect is a regular employee who allegedly divested some P200,000 in market collections,” added the report.
According to the report, the Commission on Audit has already recommended to the City Legal Office the filing of a graft case against the regular employee.
“The rest of the suspects are job hires who either collected market fees without issuing tickets, failed to remit their collections, or tampered receipt entries to chip off some amount from their collections. Some of the suspects purportedly admitted their guilt to both the executive market committee and Agado,” concluded the report.
We were surprised why Agado had to hold his punches during the privileged speech when it was supposed to be the perfect opportunity for him to skin those rapscallions alive.
For his failure to name names after unloading the “tuklo” (colloquial word for thief) accusation, public criticism has boomeranged on Agado, a former crusading radioman.
No guilty party is stupid to honor any committee investigation if he knows that he will only be lynched and humiliated.
We hope Agado can have a little success in his efforts to lower the boom on these dishonest city hall employees.
The only consolation for him is that he is being reportedly backed up by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is also hell-bent to eradicate his office with undesirable employees.