City denies suspended chief’s plea to unclamp village bus

THE Cebu City Legal Office (CLO) has denied the request of suspended Barangay Zapatera chief Francisco “Frank” Benedicto for an exemption of payment to have its village bus unclamped.

Their barangay bus was clamped by the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) after it was caught illegally parking on Sikatuna St. in December 2019.

Cebu City Attorney Rey Gealon said clamping due to illegal parking must be conducted even if the owner of the clamped vehicle was working for the city government.

“The law may be harsh, but it is the law. A fine is not even that harsh of a penalty but has to be imposed nonetheless,” Gealon told reporters.

In a letter sent to the CLO on Dec. 10, Benedicto explained that the bus was no longer functional and they had to park it on Sikatuna St. as they wanted it towed to a repair shop.

“This bus is due for repair as it is not functional and no longer safe to transport people. We intend to have that bus towed to the repair shop once we have the vehicle with the capacity to tow it,” he said.

Benedicto added they don’t have funds and the capabiliy to pay the penalty to CCTO to get the clamp removed from their bus.

Vehicle owners whose cars and motorcycles are clamped by the CCTO are required to pay a P1,500 fine.

In an interview, Benedicto told SunStar Cebu that he had expected the city government to understand their situation.

“I was expecting that they would treat me as family. And when somebody in their family makes a mistake, they have to stand up and correct it, not punish them,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Benedicto added he will pay the fine once his suspension expires. He has been serving a two-month preventive suspension since December after a complaint for corruption and sexual harassment was lodged against him.

He plans to ask the barangay’s help to raise the funds to pay for the penalty or pay for it himself.

Earlier this week, Benedicto threatened to sue his fellow barangay officials after the P200,000 he left in his drawer at the village hall went missing while he was serving his suspension./ JCT