Briones: What’s going on in Zapatera?

Publio Briones

I JUST want to point out that I am not taking any sides.

First of all, I personally don’t know who Francisco Benedicto or Juan Flores Jr. is except for the stuff I read about them on the news.

In case you don’t know, the former is the suspended barangay captain of Zapatera in Cebu City while the latter is the “officer-in-charge.”

Benedicto has been under a two-month preventive suspension since Dec. 19, 2019 for charges of graft and corruption and sexual harassment.

Now, according to the news report, Benedicto plans to sue barangay officials who entered his office last month after P200,000 in cash that he left inside his drawer disappeared.

Benedicto said it was his own money intended for their Christmas party and raffle prizes, among other things.

He only found it missing after he decided 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” on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

Let me get this straight.

He only made the discovery last Wednesday, weeks after his suspension, despite having access to his office throughout this whole time.

Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that Barangay Councilor Helen Grace Yap and other barangay officials allegedly found a pack of shabu inside his office while trying to retrieve an electric cord for the barangay’s biometrics machine last Monday, Jan. 6.

Of course.

The shabu was reportedly inside a blue envelope with Benedicto’s belongings.

Okay. Where do I start?

Flores, when interviewed about Benedicto’s allegation, responded by throwing back the question: “Why would the latter leave that much money behind, if, indeed, he did?”

The barangay council had passed a resolution asking Benedicto to turn over some items, which included the biometrics cord, while he was serving his suspension. It asked Benedicto’s son, who is a barangay councilor, to act as witness while barangay officials retrieved the items, but the son declined.

I really doubt these items included a blue envelope and its contents.

The envelope must have been very big to hold a cord. Or, the cord must have been very small to fit inside an envelope. Either way, what right did Barangay Councilor Yap and company have to open an envelope that didn’t belong to them?

Well, what drew them to it? Were they attracted to its color? After all, blue is not exactly a common color for an envelope unless it is and I’m just not aware of it because I’m not a millennial.

With that said, why would anyone--yeah, anyone--leave that much money inside an office drawer?

Benedicto had all the time and opportunity to deposit the money in a bank or take it home where it would be safe. I mean, he, of all people, would know that you don’t leave that much money lying around, especially in a barangay hall where people come and go.

For the very same reason he wouldn’t leave anything behind that his political opponents would find to link him to any illegal activity.

Then again, stranger things have happened.