Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dumaguete City Councilor Scandal

Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria is asking Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova to take appropriate action and conduct an immediate investigation on an incident last month involving an anti-hot meat operation in which a city councilor was purportedly involved.

In a letter dated October 4, 2012, Mayor Sagarbarria noted that the incident, which happened last September 21 and involved Councilor Antonio Remollo, was a matter within the competence/jurisdiction of the city legislative branch and that as presiding officer of the city council, he was endorsing the matter to him.

The mayor's request for a probe by the city council via Vice Mayor Cordova stems from an incident last month in which the Hot Meat Surveillance Team of Task Force Sagarr had swooped down on an alleged hot meat vendor who was reportedly roasting a pig (lechon) within the vicinity of his house.

The inspecting team was headed by Charles Tubog, Team-1 leader of Task Force Sagarr and who was joined later by Dr. Lourdes Socorro, city veterinary officer.

During the inspection at Cervantes Extension in Barangay 8, the suspect, identified as Jerry Barrera, who city officials tagged as a "well-known hot meat vendor/supplier", purportedly made a phone call to Councilor Joe Kenneth Arbas, apparently seeking his intercession.

An incident report by Task Force Sagarr showed that Councilor Arbas, whose voice was heard over the speaker phone of Barrera's cellphone, told the latter to contact Councilor Antonio Remollo.

After he was contacted, Councilor Remollo arrived and spoke to the inspecting team, asking them not to confiscate the lechon but to just impose penalties and collect fines from Barrera. However, Dr. Socorro insisted that this was a violation of the law and therefore, the lechon must be confiscated apart from penalizing the suspect.

Remollo claimed that a City Hall employee had ordered the lechon to be delivered to Singapore, to which the city veterinary said she will not issue a clearance for its shipment, citing a law against hot meat.

The city councilor then announced that he would instead take charge of the lechon as it was the birthday of a nephew/niece, but Dr. Socorro again reminded him that it was hot meat and that the rotisserie pig must be confiscated.

The city veterinarian left ahead of Tubog and his team, who told Barrera to report to the City Hall and sign the confiscation receipt.

Barrera appeared later that day at the office of Dr. Socorro, who told him there was no confiscation receipt to sign as the lechon was not delivered to her office.

Tubog admitted there was miscommunication that apparently led to the failure of the anti-hot meat team to confiscate the lechon after Councilor Remollo had interceded.

Mayor Sagarbarria, in asking Vice Mayor Cordova to conduct an investigation, expressed optimism of an appropriate response that would "surely help regain the confidence of our law enforcers and would serve as a good example to the public at large".

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