Benedicto claims P200K of his personal money lost

SUSPENDED barangay captain Francisco Benedicto of Zapatera, Cebu City has threatened to sue barangay officials who entered his office last December, claiming the money that he left inside his drawer was now nowhere to be found.

According to Benedicto, he left P200,000 of his personal money inside his office drawer before the Cebu City Council ordered his two-month preventive suspension last Dec. 19, 2019 for graft and corruption and sexual harrassment charges filed against him.

Benedicto said the money that he left inside his drawer was intended for the barangay Christmas party and for raffle prizes among other things.

He had yet to consult his lawyer on what case to file against those who entered his office without his permission during his suspension.

On Jan. 6, 2020, Zapatera barangay councilor Helen Grace Yap and other barangay officials reportedly found a small pack of suspected shabu inside Benedicto’s office while trying to retrieve an electrical cord for the barangay’s biometrics machine.

Benedicto claimed the drugs were “planted” by people who no longer wanted him to serve as barangay captain.

Acting barangay captain Juan Flores Jr. said that while they entered Benedicto’s office before the Christmas break to pull out electrical plugs to keep the place safe, they did not touch any of Benedicto’s personal items.

“There was a time we opened it, probably on the 27th of December because there were still unplugged wirings. And we know that December is a long vacation,” Flores said.

“Logically, if a person has money as much as P200,000, would you leave it there? How safe is it, really, and how true is his claim for the money?” Flores said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Flores also denied Benedicto’s claim that the shabu found in his office was planted.

Benedicto asked the help of the Parian Police Station to enter the barangay hall on Wednesday, Jan. 8, to check on his things after he was no longer allowed to enter his office for fear that he would tamper with evidence against him which might still be there.

Accompanied by Parian policemen, Benedicto arrived at the barangay hall at around 2 p.m. to search for his money, which he claimed was left inside his drawer.

Flores did not stop Benedicto from entering the office since policemen were present as witnesses.

Benedicto told reporters he was surprised where Flores got hold of a duplicate of his office key when only he and his grandson had copies of the key.

As of this writing, Flores had yet to respond to Benedicto’s statement. / USJ-R Journalism intern Mae Fhel Gom-os