FORMER Cebu City councilor and now MCWD board chairman Joey Daluz ordered the removal of streamers with the word "OK" in the Covid-19 message. It was not City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. Thus claimed former mayor Tomas Osmeña in an interview on dyCM radio Tuesday, July 21.
Tomas, broadcaster Chito O. Aragon said, was surprised that Probe team chief Raquel Arce tagged Casas, instead of Daluz. The ex-mayor said his wife Margot has evidence of messages from Daluz to Arce, which were forwarded to the former city councilor.
Not surprising at all, a City Hall watcher told SunStar. Daluz technically has no authority at City Hall, particularly over Probe. Casas is Arce's boss, not Daluz.
The dyCM interview also confirmed that Tomas was responsible for the message on the tarpaulin streamers that were displayed on highly visible places in a several barangays. Aragon didn't say if Osmeña also admitted that he provided the barangay captains with the streamers.
But Tomas gloated over its effect on Mayor Edgardo Labella. "Natarantar tingali sila... Kakuyaw ni Labella no. kon mogamit ka og 'OK.' Osmeña kana."
Online chat 'lets cat out'
Four House leaders who were among those who led the assault on ABS-CBN in the public hearings that led to the rejection of its franchise application were recorded in an online group chat that was posted on social media.
They are Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla, and party-list Anaklusugan Representative Michael Defensor.
They sound in the recorded virtual talk like they are conspiring to beat up ABS-CBN some more after it is already down. The plans include slapping the broadcast network P1.97 trillion in fines for violations of its old franchise; ejecting the network from the 44,000 sq.m. complex along Mother Ignacia St.; taking over the network by workers who sued it for illegal dismissal; and pulling the plug on Skycable.
The "conspirators" agreed to meet again next week. If they would, the need to do it under more secure conditions so as not to be embarrassed again by the exposure. The three congressmen, good at killing a franchise, apparently are novices on spy moves.
Slowly, the cat is coming out of the bag, said Albay Representative Edcel Lagman. Didn't the conspirators hear it meow?
Asirit out, Gerry still there
A Cebuana member of the five-person Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Cebu left the government body after completing her seven-year term last July 10. She is Josefina Patricia "Aina" Magpale-Asirit.
Aina Asirit is a former Cebu Provincial Board member and daughter of former vice governor Agnes Magpale and niece of former Cabinet secretary Ruben Almendras.
Floresinda Digal, ERC executive director, replaced Asirit. Another appointee, Marko Romeo Fuentes from Davao City, filled the seat vacated by Paul Christian Cervantes, another commissioner whose term expired also on July 10.
Geronimo "Gerry" Sta. Ana, the other Cebuano in ERC, will end his term on March 19, 2022.
Figured in controversy
Asirit, with Sta. Ana, was among the four ERC commissioners who were ordered suspended three years ago by the ombudsman for allowing electric utilities like Meralco to forego the bidding of their power supply requirements at the public's expense. The others were Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc and Alfredo Non. They were found guilty of "conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, aggravated by simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty."
Former chairman Jose Vicente Salazar was also found guilty of the administrative offenses. President Rodrigo Duterte had removed him from office in October in that year (2017) for allegedly manipulating the procurement of small ERC contracts. Salazar was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to six months salary.
Against Salazar and his four commissioners was found probable cause for criminal violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. They allegedly "caused undue injury to the government and giving unwarranted benefits to private parties." Progress of the criminal charges has not yet been reported.
The Ombudsman ruling of December 11, 2017 stemmed from the November 24, 2016 complaint of Alyansa Para sa Bagong Pilipinas that questioned ERC's grant of a 45-day deferment of the competitive bidding among electricity distributors for their power to lower consumer rates.
Thirty eight companies procured a total supply of 4,500 megawatts without competitive bidding. It denied consumers the chance to get the best offers and price supply terms. In effect, ERC "bent its own rules to accommodate" the power companies.
Before the ombudsman's finding, President Duterte on November 23, 2016 asked the four ERC commissioners to resign. even threatening to abolish the office. That was after ERC's executive director then, Francisco Villa Jr., killed himself on November 9, leaving a suicide note that alleged he had been pressured to accept a contract without public bidding. The four ERC members rejected the President's demand. And two of them managed to complete their term.
Tell us about it.