Tag Archives: Iloilo city hall

Castañeda a good choice for city LEEO portfolio

“Not everyone can be trusted. I think we all have to be very selective about the people we trust.” Shelley Long

By Alex P. Vidal

IT’S the trust and confidence that matters most.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog made the right decision to appoint Ariel Castañeda as the new chief of the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO).

The apprehensions registered by key leaders of market vendors associations in the metropolis about Castañeda’s “lack of experience” to handle the job are but natural, but experience alone is not the end-all and be-all qualifications to manage and rebuild the anomaly-ridden LEEO.

Castañeda, Mabilog’s hitherto political affairs consultant, is a reformist who carries with him the competence, dynamism and idealism of a leader necessary to streamline and iron out the kinks in the LEEO.

In choosing Castañeda, Mabilog was not entertaining a quick fix solution to the mess left behind by the office’s previous boss, Vicente de la Cruz.

Mabilog wanted to infuse integrity back in the LEEO and revive the people’s faith in the office marred previously by accusations of irregularities and mismanagement.

With Castañeda’s solid background in leadership and good credibility, Mabilog is confident the LEEO will once again experience a renaissance under a new manager.

Marker vendors associations will easily get along with the unassuming Castañeda as he is one of the most accessible and easy-to-approach members of the Mabilog cabinet.


THE church’s silence on the proposed legalization of the Small Town Lottery (STL) in Iloilo province is deafening.

They have not made a stand or issued a statement since Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. announced last month that he was in favor of the move of the provincial board which had passed a resolution pushing for legalization of the numbers game.

With Defensor’s full approval, it’s only a matter of time before the resolution authored by Board Member Manny Gallar will bear fruits in favor of the STL.

Three operators have been queuing for the franchise to be issued by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

They are: Around D’ World Gaming Corp., Fairpoint Marketing Corp. and Iloilo Small Town Lottery Gaming Corp.

The grapevine says the PSCO will soon approve the franchise to any of the three.

Like a thief in the night, STL will invade the Iloilo province without any resistance.

The church has been actively spearheading the clamor to halt any attempt from the local government unit (LGU) to legalize any form of gambling in the past.

Priests even used the pulpit to chide those who pushed for legalization of gambling.

Why they are silent on this issue is what boggles the minds of the Ilonggos.


THE image of Boracay Island will suffer in the global tourism industry if reports were true that the level of coliform bacteria in the beach increased 47,460 most probable number (mpn) per 100 ml and, therefore, “not safe” for swimming.

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) regional director Jonathan Bulos had clarified that the water sample containing the high level of coliform bacteria was taken from the mouth of Bulabog Beach where there was a drainage system.

For a body of water to be considered safe for swimming, its coliform bacteria level must not exceed 1,000 mpn/ml, according to the EMB, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The presence in the Boracay waters of coliform bacteria, found mainly in human and animal waste, soil and vegetation, have been reported many years back but the DENR assured beach goers the situation was not alarming.


FORMER North Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol, a part time boxing manager and sportswriter, told me recently that he was not sure if he would go to Las Vegas to watch the Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. duel on May 2.

“Ka mahal sang ticket. Makahuluya man kay Manny (Pacquiao). Kon tag P200,000 per ticket e times mo ina sa 50 ka tawo nga mangayu libre mga P10 million na ina. (The ticket is so expensive. If Manny gives each of only 50 persons free tickets it’s already P10 million),” Pinol said.

I told Pinol that Pacquiao spent some P20 million for the tickets he bought from the Top Rank for distribution to fellow congressmen, showbiz characters, friends, hangers-on, and members of the Boston Celtics when Pacquiao fought Ricky Hatton on May 2, 2009.

“Against Mayweather, even if Pacquiao will spend an equivalent of P50 million for the freebie tickets, he won’t mind it,” I told Pinol.

Bisan pa. Kahuluya. Kuarta man ina gihapon. Ang iban ‘ya wala lang naga paminsar. (It’s still money. Those who ask for free tickets should think about it and have some shame.),” he replied.

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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in HEALTH, POLITICS


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Mabilog admits mistake; Duterte visits Defensor

“Success produces confidence; confidence relaxes industry, and negligence ruins the reputation which accuracy had raised.” Ben Jonson

By Alex P. Vidal

MAYOR Geefre “Kalay” Alonsabe of Alimodian, Iloilo, a Liberal Party (LP) member, was the lone municipal mayor who joined Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. when Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte, a PDP-Laban stalwart and rumored presidential aspirant, visited the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on Friday morning.

If the LP hierarchy is not jealous, it will not sanction Alonsabe, who seemed to be more excited and interested only on Duterte as a tough guy or a macho man, than as a potential rival of LP’s presumed standard bearer in 2016, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Mar Roxas.

Alonsabe’s personal admiration for Duterte does not mean he is willing to shift allegiance from LP to PDP-Laban.

Admiration is different from loyalty.

He admires Duterte but his loyalty is still probably with Roxas.

Currently scouring for more grassroots support, Duterte would love to be adopted by Alonsabe and other Iloilo mayors who are mostly LP allies.

Duterte did not have any idea, of course, that Alonsabe, an aggressive and popular public servant, is facing a graft case in the Ombudsman for the release of P3.241-million fertilizer funds in 2004 to a cooperative linked to former Iloilo second district congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr.

Duterte’s campaign in Western Visayas is expected to snowball with the help of his well-respected regional coordinator, Rotarian and lawyer Hansel Didulo.


If the mea culpa committed recently by Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the enforcement of the wheel clamping ordinance happened when the city mayor was Mansueto Malabor, the city council would have been up in arms.

Malabor could not commit an error without being bamboozled by opposition leader Councilor Perla Zulueta (now a consultant of Mabilog).

Under a vigilant and confrontational city council then, debates and conflicts were healthy signs that our government officials were doing their job.

With the executive and legislative branches engaging in a Punch and Judy show, media had a field day.

That’s how the check and balance worked if the two branches of government—executive and legislative—are independent of each other.

Thanks to the 12-0 win of the Liberal Party city council bets in the 2013 local elections, nobody will be willing to rap partymate and political benefactor Mabilog in the knuckles.


What happened was an honest mistake, according to Mabilog.

Because of the volumes of papers that the city mayor regularly signs on his table, he “mistakenly” inked his signature on the MOA with 3L company, which should have been forwarded first to the General Services Office (GSO).

As a matter of procedure, GSO would have to look first for 3L company’s competitors before any agreement was signed.

The signed document would then be sent to the city council for confirmation.

Because the cart was pushed ahead of the horse, Mabilog is asking the city council to cancel the agreement.

In the first place, if City Administrator Norlito Bautista and other officials in the city mayor’s office were doing their job, Mabilog would have been spared of this very fundamental error and the inconvenience of facing a backlash from critics.

It’s the task of the city administrator and the executive assistants to screen the papers, especially the MOAs, being stockpiled on the city mayor’s table.

The staff’s fatal negligence can bring unnecessary delays on important transactions and embarrassment to the executive office.

Heads must roll.


“What will happen to our country if Binay becomes the president?”

This was the straight and frank reply made by former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol when retired Philippine News Agency (PNA) Iloilo chief Neonita “Mommy Nitz” Gobuyan” asked him pointblank: “Ngaa nagabira bira ka gid kampanya kay Mayor Duterte? (Why are you working so hard campaigning for Mayor Duterte?)

Gobuyan, who recently told Vice President Jejomar Binay in a chance meeting in Iloilo that Binay would be the next president of the country, asked the question to Pinol when they met inside the office of Gov. Defensor on Friday.

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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in POLITICS


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Lifestyle check for provincial engineers

“You’ve got to think lucky. If you fall into a mudhole, check your back pocket – you might have caught a fish.”  Darrell Royal

By Alex P. Vidal

DO we prevent graft and corruption in government when we do a no non-sense check and balance?

A lifestyle check for those working in government should be done periodically and shouldn’t be a case only of ningas cogon for those implementing it.

Corrupt government employees and officials who don’t know how to conceal their wealth are usually the ones who end up wrestling with criminal and administrative raps filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman.

When officials and employees in a certain government agency display ostentatious wealth, that agency becomes the red light for graft and corruption.

How they became instant rich and where they get their loot would be the hottest topic in every nook and cranny.

For instance, many provincial engineers have no qualms parading their luxury vehicles in public and have virtually transformed the capitol parking areas into an exhibit of expensive cars.

When a taxpayer visits the capitol, he will be horrified to find some luxury cars like MU-X Isuzu, Toyota Fortuner, Crosswind Isuzu, Isuzu D-Max pick-up, among the latest car models in parking spaces.

These are purportedly owned by engineers who acquired their wealth from “kickbacks” in various infra and road projects.


Some of these rich employees also reportedly connived with corrupt area engineers who sell diesel fuel distributed for use of capitol backhoes, loaders, bulldozers and dump trucks in project sites.

Each of the five areas reportedly gets 2,000 liters of fuel for a total of 10,000 liters of fuel distributed in five areas in the province.

For instance, if the tanker deposits 80 liters daily, the corrupt area engineer liquidates 120 liters.

“There is connivance between the tanker and the area engineer and everybody is happy,” sources said. “If the diesel fuel is P30 per liter, imagine how they laugh their way to the videoke bar.”

Sources added: “The sad part is that provincial engineer Gracianito Lucero appears to be unaware of this anomaly because he does not have close and regular dialogue with his men.”

The one who is calling most of the shots in the provincial engineer’s office is reportedly assistant engineer Romeo Andig, not Lucero.

Lucero was not available when we tried to reach him yesterday.


THE “Kampohan Sang Mga Biktima Sang Yolanda” romped off on February 16 and will last until February 20 outside the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office 6 in Molo district, Iloilo City.

Led by the Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (Pamanggas), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)-Panay, Gabriela, Anakbayan, and Kadamay, an urban for alliance, the group called for the immediate full release of the financial shelter aid for victims of typhoon Yolanda and the scrapping of the Memorandum Circular No. 24 Series of 2014 or the guidelines on the implementation of Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for Yolanda victims.

Of the P9 billion approved for the aid of typhoon victims in Western Visayas, only P1.4 billion has been released according to DSWD-6 Regional Director Evelyn Macapobre.

Cris Chaves, Pamanggas secretary-general, said those with totally damaged houses were promised P30,000 each while partially damaged houses were promised P10,000 each.

Winnie Legriso of KMU decried the government’s snail-paced approach in the distribution of funds.

“Biktima ka na sang bagyo biktima ka pa gid sang pagka uyaya sang gobierno. Biktimahon ka pa gid sang corruption (the typhoon victims are also victims of government neglect and corruption),” he bewailed.


CITY administrator Norlito Bautista did not reveal the names of the four city hall casual employees reportedly caught forging the signatures of city officials in a bogus payroll they made and presented to a cellular phone company in order to avail a promo in the recent Dinagyang Festival.

But he confirmed that the four have been fired or their contracts will no longer be renewed.

They reportedly used the bogus payroll to make it appear that they get a salary of at least P10,000 a month, which is a requirement in order to avail of the promo.

We laud city hall’s decisiveness and quickness in dealing with the case of the four erring employees.

We hope city hall will also be quick to lower the boom on employees and officials who commit more than payroll forgery.

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Will Mabilog ‘save’ city hall execs in market mess?

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow

By Alex P. Vidal

HITLER defended his controversial personal physician, Theodor Morell, from Nazi intriguers when they tried to link him in the aborted assassination of the Der Fuhrer on July 20, 1944.

Will the world’s number five city mayor, Jed Patrick Mabilog, also defend Iloilo City administrator Norlito Bautista and former Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) chief Vincent dela Cruz?

Bautista and Dela Cruz could not be victims of intrigues like Morell as it was the City Council committee on slaughterhouse and public markets chaired by Rodel Agado that is poised to recommend the filing of raps against them for the alleged rackets at the Iloilo Terminal Market or popularly known among Ilonggos as “super.”

The committee conducted several hearings and invited key witnesses and parties involved before coming up with a decision to hold the two officials accountable.

The hearings uncovered, among other irregularities, the unauthorized use of job hires and employees to collect rental fees and issue receipts and other accountable forms to market vendors.


Councilor Plaridel Nava said the full details of their investigation will be revealed this week.

Ribbed in the media for being a “rubber stamp” of the mayor’s office, Agado and Nava are beginning to let their critics eat their words with their bold decision to throw the books on two of Mabilog’s minions.

Mabilog may have already been tipped off of the committee’s move against two of his trusted lieutenants, and must be willing to subject them to any disciplinary action if evidence will warrant.

The city mayor is aware that prematurely absolving Bautista and Dela Cruz of any culpability in the market fiasco is not the logical step at this stage.

He is expected to let the chips fall where they may and respect the city council’s recommendation against his two underlings as a co-equal branch in government.


ILOILO cable TV host Vicente “Danny Baby” Foz, Jr., and former scribe and now Iloilo capitol employee Nelson Robles share contrasting stories.

While Good Samaritans led by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog came to Danny Baby’s rescue when the latter was fighting for his life after suffering from stroke at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Iloilo Doctors Hospital on January 15, Robles is hard-pressed to look for cash needed for his “immediate” operation for prostate cancer.

The two met at Madge Café in La Paz Public Market in La Paz district, Iloilo City on Friday and shared their respective plights.

Danny Baby: “First of all, I would like to thank Mayor Mabilog for visiting me three times during my confinement (from Jan. 15-29) despite his busy schedules. I understand that his schedule was full because it was a Dinagyang festival week.”

Danny Baby said he was at Amigo Terrace Hotel at around five o’clock in the afternoon on January 15 when he felt a pain in his abdomen and he couldn’t breath.

He was rushed to the hospital. Nurses called people listed in his cellular phone. First to arrive were fellow cable TV hostess Tonette Toledo and Manny Alcalde. Panay News managing editor Herbert Vego and DPWH Engr. Mario Castillano also came.

Danny Baby, 52, said Tonette texted Mayor Mabilog, who immediately sent political affairs consultant Ariel Castaneda “to fix matters.”

Rizal–Lapuz village chief Releo Lumayad and Jalandoni Estate, Lapuz village chief Efren Gimeo also arrived one after the other.

Among those who also extended help, Danny Baby said, were Rep. Jerry Trenas, Councilor Lex Tupas and contractor Jojo Ang. “I thank God because this is now my second life,” he intoned.


Robles, 64, said he learned that he has a prostate cancer only last January 5 when result of his biopsy came out.

He underwent biopsy examination on December 22, 2014 conducted by Dr. Raul N. Sancho.

“My cancer is stage one,” sobbed Robles.

He said he needed immediate cash so he can undergo a nuclear bone scan “as soon as possible” before the operation which, he said, is scheduled in April.

“I’m only a capitol employee. I’m alone now (his wife, Zenaida, a public school teacher in Oton, Iloilo, died several years ago) and my three children are not anymore living with me. I might die if I can’t raise the needed amount for my operation,” teary-eyed Robles lamented.

“To tell you honestly, I’m getting desperate right now and I’m waiting for my children to at least get in touch with me. I missed them so much. I want to see them before everything will be too late.”

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS


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Illegal Jaro plaza vendors: Are you talking to us?

“Uncertainty is a very good thing: it’s the beginning of an investigation, and the investigation should never end.”  Tim Crouch

By Alex P. Vidal

THE task of clearing the sidewalks of Jaro district plaza of illegal or ambulant vendors falls on the office of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, not with the city council.

Instead of bellyaching, city councilors should leave the matter to the city mayor’s office.

The city mayor’s office implements ordinances.

The city council enacts them.

The city council can’t usurp the powers of the executive office, vice versa.

Councilor Joshua Alim said they will investigate reports that illegal vendors were allowed to erect stalls on the sidewalks of the plaza during the Jaro Agro-Industrial Fair after paying certain fees, which, he said, was illegal.

Only registered stalls inside the plaza were allowed and authorized to pay rental fees, etcetera.

The city councilors, receiving complaints from legitimate stall owners inside the plaza, wanted to know who’s behind the racket.

Three council committees will spearhead the investigation after the February 2 district feast of Jaro’s Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Alim said.


These committees are: tourism, culture and historical affairs headed by Councilor Nielex Tupas; good governance headed by Councilor Jason Gonzales; and barangay affairs and community development headed by Councilor Carlos Guarin.

What for?

Any step made by city hall authorities after the event would be moot and academic.

The “crime” has been consummated.

Illegal vendors won’t give a damn about any council investigation to be held after they have served their purposes.

They can even snub it.

When city hall first heard that illegal vendors were being allowed on the sidewalks of Jaro plaza in exchange of unauthorized fees in January, Mabilog should have ordered a team to drive them away.

The demolition should have commenced before the Jaro fiesta or the start of the agro-industrial fair.

If stalls of ambulant vendors are demolished by city hall only after the fiesta or the holding of the agro-industrial fair, city officials will look stupid.


Illegal stall owners will loudly tell city hall: “thank you for the free services.”

But the city mayor’s office has been mum over the furor.

It was only the city council that made a lot of noise, threatening to hold a committee investigation to determine who’s at fault.

The vendors were reportedly allowed on the sidewalks after paying P200 to the Special Services Unit of the city government for P200.

They vendors also paid P30 per light bulb to a light contractor. An organization also charged them as much as P4,000 to P5,000 per stall without any receipt.

Based on these tips, city hall should have started clamping down on these illegal vendors and the illegal transactions involving some organizers as early as last month.

The issue here is corruption.

Somebody made money out of the presence of these eyesores within the belt line of the plaza.

While nobody from the city mayor’s office is aggressive enough to identify and punish the scoundrels, some city councilors consider the issue an urgent matter.

Thus they will investigate after the smoke has disappeared.

In Tagalog, they have this popular aphorism: “Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo.” (The grass is useless if the horse is dead.)

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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in POLITICS


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Interesting ‘conflicts’ in City Hall

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan

By Alex P. Vidal

WHEN we covered the City Hall beat during the administrations of the late former Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon (1988-1991), former Mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor (1991-2001), and now Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Trenas (2001-2010), the clashes happened usually between members of the legislative and executive branches.
Ganzon sprayed with water the seven recalcitrant members of the City Council using the hose of a fire truck at the Freedom Grandstand.
The maverick Ganzon, a former senator, was at loggerheads with most members of the local legislature that his administration was marred by legal skirmishes and interrupted by preventive suspension orders.
He even went as far as padlocking the office of Councilor Lorenzo “Larry” Ong.
City hall could not find peace as long as Ganzon was at the helm and the seven city councilors: Trenas, Ong, Edgar Gil, Rolando Dabao, German Gonzales, Eduardo Penaredondo, Cirilo Ganzon refused to assume sycophantic roles.
Malabor and his minions in the executive office were constantly under the watchful radar of former Councilor Perla Zulueta, who is now Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s executive assistant for finance.


Each time firebrand Zulueta lambasted the executive office in privilege speeches and media interviews, Malabor’s blood pressure skyrocketed.
His legal chief, Atty. Mary Milagros Hechanova, always had plenty of paper works to review to save the king.
The clashes normally occurred in the name of check and balance.
It was always a healthy sign for democracy when the Mayor’s Office and the City Council were at each other’s throats and not singing a chorus when it comes to policing their ranks.
The City Council under the Trenas administration was not as adversarial compared to the previous administrations, but Trenas also had his own share of goose bumps from feisty councilors who refused subservient functions.
Today, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s relationship with the City Council appears to be sweeter than real life sweethearts.
The honeymoon is expected to extend until probably their terms will expire; and the bacchanalia, so far, has not been interrupted despite veiled differences in the choices for presidential candidates in 2016.
While everything has been going on smoothly between Mabilog and the City Council, civil wars occur from time to time within Mabilog’s inner circle, involving his key factotums.


City legal chief Jose Junio Jacela got out of the kitchen when he could not anymore stand the heat after his appointment was rejected by the City Council.
The City Council rejection was not the one that wounded him most: it’s the Brutuses and Cassiuses who kept on planting thumb tacks in his back.
Until now no one can tell if Jacela and former Vice Mayor Victor Facultad, also Mabilog’s consultant, can still see each other eyeball to eyeball.
Spokesman Jeffrey Celiz’s wings had been clipped at the time when he was making mincemeat of Mabilog’s detractors.
In frontal combats vis-à-vis the mayor’s critics, no one can match Celiz.
Intrepid, brilliant and consistent, Celiz can single-handedly neutralize if not clobber all of Mabilog’s deadly detractors in debates and other verbal shootouts.
Why we haven’t heard of Celiz for awhile only the mayor knows.
Most recently it was Zulueta and City Legal Chief Daniel Dinopol who figured in a heated exchange of words in media.
So far, no heavy bombs have been unloaded. Only powder puffs and brickbats.
If the apparent cold war between Mabilog’s two top lieutenants won’t be settled soon, it has the potential to escalate into ugly proportions.

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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in POLITICS


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Market thieves who?

“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.

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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in POLITICS


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Capitol identifies checks scam artists

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” James Lee Burke

By Alex P. Vidal

By signifying interest to pay a partial amount of P5 million to the Panay Electric Company (PECO) out of the total P80 million arrears, Iloilo City Hall has restored the faith of other private utilities with pending collectibles from the city government.
The partial amount appropriated for payment of electric bills consumed since the time of former mayors Mansueto Malabor and now Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas may be peanuts, but P5 million is P5 million in whatever dialect.
The biggest power consumption was recorded by the city public markets with bills reaching P30 million, including the P26 million in unpaid bills that mounted last year.
Although there was no available date mentioned for the next payment, at least city hall can now be given assurance that PECO will not disrupt its power lines this Yuletide season.
So many programs and activities in public plazas and other venues (gymnasiums, auditoriums, etc.) maintained by the city government have been lined up this Christmas.


One sure way to sabotage these programs and activities is to cut off the power lines in these areas due to non-payment of the gargantuan PECO bills.
The P5 million check is expected to protect all the Christmas-related programs and activities.
The move to pay PECO with the initial amount emanated from the City Council committee on appropriations chaired by Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo.
The windfall could be timely since Iloilo City is also scheduled to host segments of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2015.
By the end of 2014, city hall’s power bills are expected to increase now that the city government has installed several street lights and lampposts in the Diversion Road where some of the recently inaugurated state-of-the-art infra and road-widening projects are located.
Both city hall and PECO are studying some mechanisms on how to further reduce the bills without the need to slice a big chunk of the city budget intended for the employees’ benefits and the people’s basic needs.


We are glad that Roxas City Hall has released the business permit of Kapis Mansions owned by businessman Joaquin “Toto” Diaz Dumagpi, a Capiz-based friend of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay Sr.
Mayor Alan Celino may have interfered and did not want anymore to further inflame the issue after the delay was linked to Dumagpi’s friendship with the vice president.
Dumagpi had fought tooth and nail since early this year to compel city hall to release his hotel’s business permit, insisting his papers were complete and properly documented.
In a press conference last month, Dumagpi scored the repeated refusal of the city licensing division to release the business permit, lamenting that the delay had cost Kapis Mansions millions of pesos of losses since the hotel was supposed to host the Department of Health (DOH) national convention.
Lawyer Leobeth Deslate-Delicana confirmed recently her client did not pay any penalty or surcharge to the city government.
There was no immediate explanation on the part of the city hall why it suddenly released Kapis Mansions’ business permit, which happened after the media extensively tackled the issue.


Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor is ready to lower the boom on Capitol checks scammers upon his return from a three-day trip in South Korea.
Fact finding committee chief, Atty. Suzette Mamon, has completed the investigation and Defensor was already informed about it.
The Iloilo provincial government had been defrauded with P170,345.21.
This was after Provincial Accounting Office found alterations in 17 disbursement vouchers and checks for the payment of medicines, drugs and medical apparatus.
The Provincial Treasurer’s Office issued P1,652,379.48 check to Diomar, more than the amount due which is only P1,482,034.27.
The transaction was made through Diomar Trading, a longtime supplier of the Capitol, it was learned.

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in POLITICS


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Don’t limit wet market probe  

“There is always room at the top – after the investigation.”Oliver Herford

By Alex P. Vidal

If the proposed redevelopment of the Iloilo central market was not tackled early this year, the alleged anomalies in the management of the city’s premier wet market would not be uncovered.

It was during the tension-filled opposition of some stall owners led by the Association of Stall Owners and Transient Vendors of Iloilo City Public Markets (Astraven Icpmi) that the issue about thieves and racketeers siphoning funds intended for the city government was unraveled.

It was during the ruckus about the proposed privatization of the public market where Councilor Rodel Agado and other officials in the mayor’s office discovered that the market income generated from rentals and other services declined rapidly.


Agado blamed corrupt market collectors who allegedly connived with their bosses and pocketed some collections to the prejudice of the city government. Although he refused to name names allegedly for fear of reprisal, the grapevine points to several high-ranking officials in the executive branch which Agado promised to name “in the proper forum.”

It turned out the problem was not happening only in one public market.

This month, the City Council’s committee on markets and slaughterhouse will convene to tackle the proposed public inquiry on the Iloilo Terminal Market (ITM), which will be conducted by the local legislative branch as a committee of the whole.

Agado is expected to name the hooligans that include four market fee collectors, 14 stall awardees and three regular market employees allegedly involved in anomalous transactions. The councilor’s revelation came in the heels of reports that a market collector was caught selling application forms for the award of stalls at P100 each.


Now that city officials have started to stir the hornet’s nest, they might as well cover other public markets in their on-going investigations. After the central market and ITM, they should swoop down on La Paz public market, Jaro public market, Mandurriao public market, and other wet markets in the different districts.

If there appears to be signs of mismanagement in the major public markets, it’s not far-fetched for other smaller public markets in other districts to also experience a sloppy management.

Anomalous awarding of stalls to unqualified owners, alleged tong collections, and power pilferage are three of the most common problems identified by authorities in the metropolis’ premier public markets most recently.

If public markets are poorly managed, profits will decline and the income of city hall will suffer a major dent.

Slaughterhouses, public markets and other income-generating facilities in the barangay level owned by the local government are major sources of funds for the city government. If officials assigned in these establishments are corrupt and inefficient, the money intended for public coffer will go to the pockets of a few privileged characters.


There were market executives who considered certain public markets as their fiefdoms. They ruled like chieftains. They used their power to assign and award stalls to favored friends if not relatives. A female “friend” of a former city mayor, for instance, reportedly owned five stalls (four of them awarded through dummies) in Mandurriao.

Not only that. She also owned additional stalls in other markets outside that district. Her “friendship” with the former city mayor became the object of whispers because of the special favors she got from the man every ordinary voter called as “pare.”

In fairness to the woman, she never bragged about her “friendship” with the man everyone loved to call “pare.”

“It’s not her fault if she is so dear to pare (first name deleted),” city hall employee and radio blocktimer Nards Grande said.

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Sex scandal unfair to other city hall execs

“It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all.” Moliere

By Alex P. Vidal

The late former Iloilo City councilor Melchor Nava immediately dismissed as “rumor mongering” reports that he was caught in flagrante delicto in a “very uncompromising position” with a female staff inside his office when Panay Electric Company (PECO) lights suddenly switched back on after a brief power blackout.

This happened in the mid-90’s, and I was covering the city hall beat. I was there inside Nava’s office together with two other beat reporters when power suddenly went out while we were talking about the involvement of several PNP officials in the Loboc port heist. I left the dark room while Bombo Radyo reporter Abe Beatingo and DYOK (Aksyon Radyo 720) reporter Lynon Cortez allegedly stayed for awhile.

But even if there were no detailed narrations from witnesses, radio stations the following morning feasted on the rumor; Nava and his alleged paramour became the objects of scorn and ugly gossips that lasted for several years. It tormented a lot of people allied with the beleaguered alderman and the female casual employee.


Nava was unfazed though. He and the female staff denied the rumors to death. “Tinonto na ina ‘ya nga istorya. Sin o man nga gago ang mahimu sina sa sulod sang opisina man? (The story is rubbish. Who in his right mind will do such act inside his office?)” Nava bewailed.

Naga serve gid ako kape kag natabu-an lang nga nag brown out tapos amo na ina dayon ang nag lapta nga istorya? Kalaw-ay a may nobyo ako ‘ya (I was serving coffee when the power interruption occurred. I didn’t expect that a nasty story would spread. It’s not good because I have a boyfriend),” lamented the female employee.

The power interruption lasted for about 15 minutes. Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana did not take the matter seriously when sought by reporters if he would throw the books at or rap Nava and the female worker in the knuckles. “Damu problema ciudad ta. Kotso-kotso man lang ina (we have more urgent problems to tackle in the city than dwell on rumors),” the vice mayor remarked.

When asked by then dyBQ reporter Art Calsas for his opinion about the ruckus, the late city councilor Achilles Plagata hollered: “Yots daw indi kamo mga lalaki (aren’t all of you men here?).”


According to initial reports, city hall “would not investigate” the alleged sex scandal involving an executive assistant and a female casual employee that rocked the administration of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. But the mayor recently posted this message in his Facebook account:

“There is a current sex scandal issue allegedly involving an executive assistant in city hall. Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog does not and will not tolerate immoral acts within the premises of city hall nor any government office in the city. An investigation shall be conducted by the city administrator, city legal officer and the HR officer. As to give due process as required by civil service law, we would appreciate for anybody who can witness or provide evidence on the alleged sexcapade that happened inside city hall as we do not want to unjustly crucify a person because of unrequited love or political grudges. If the person is found to be positive of the accusations his services will either end or will have to submit an irrevocable resignation. But if these accusations are found to be malicious I suggest that the person bring his accusers to court. Witnesses shall be treated with complete confidentiality.”

All the fuss about the report would turn out to be nothing but plain and simple rumor if no one came forward to substantiate the accusation.

Rumor mongering involving illicit affairs and office romance usually occurs if there is a gross inefficiency and incompetence among employees. When employees are lazy and not productive, their attention and focus are diverted into something else; and they become actively and endlessly hooked on the gossip mill. 


Iloilo City Administrator Norlito Bautista, who admitted he got the rumor through text messages and the purported testimony from an auxiliary who allegedly saw the tryst after office hours in the seventh floor, should not have gone to media if he was not ready to name names and put exclamation point on the report.

The guessing game is unfair to the other executive assistants, who must now be the objects of suspicion if not derision from their wives, children and friends. It’s not fair either to the persons referred to in the rumor if they would not be given their day in court but were already crucified in a public trial. The accuser or accusers must come to court with clean hands.

The entire hullabaloo didn’t sit well with Mayor Mabilog, who values family, morality and spirituality aside from public service.


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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


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