Couple sues Arce, 3 others before Ombudsman

·4 min read

A COUPLE has sued Cebu City’s former and current Cebu City Market administrators and two others before the anti-graft office over allegations that the latter removed their rights to operate as stall owners at the Carbon Public Market.

Luciano Picardal Jr. and his common-law wife, Jedda Marie Abuyador, filed a nine-page complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against former Cebu City Market administrator Raquel Arce, her successor, current market administrator Wendel Cenas and two others for violating Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA 2486 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, City Ordinance 2486 or the Cebu City Market Ordinance, and oppression.

The couple submitted their complaint before the anti-graft office on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.

Also named as respondents to the case are Arlene Alegado, a former head of the Carbon Public Market Unit 2’s Meat Section who is now assigned at the Cogon-Ramos satellite market, and a certain Marlene Seno, whom the couple identified as an alleged fixer at the market.

Sought for comment, Arce told SunStar Cebu that she will not give a statement as she has not received a copy of the complaint.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach Cenas, but calls and text messages to his cellular phone remained unanswered as of press time.

In their complaint, the couple claimed that they were able to secure a stall at the meat section of the market’s Unit 2 after Basilisa Picardal, Luciano’s cousin, had given it to them after she got sick of diabetes in 2019.

As she could no longer sell meat at her stall because of her illness, Picardal decided to ask Luciano to use her stall so she can earn money for her maintenance medicines as none of her children wanted to inherit her business.

In order to formalize the deal, Basilisa and Luciano executed a written agreement on Aug. 30, 2019 that the latter will pay her P27,000 as advance payment for rentals of the stall and P9,000 as monthly rental.

After the deal was struck, Luciano used the stall to sell meat and regularly paid the monthly rental fee, including daily rental fees paid to the Cebu City Government.

On Sept. 2, 2021 Basilisa executed a contract extending Luciano’s use of her stall, with no changes to the monthly rental. It was also on the same month that Basilisa died of her illness.

Following Basilisa’s death, Alegado posted a temporary closure notice of Luciano’s stall. The complainants claimed that Alegado did not even give them a copy of the notice.

When the complainants asked Alegado concerning the notice, the latter told them to visit the office of then Cebu City Market administrator Irvin Cabales as he wanted to meet them and Basilisa’s children.

On the same month, the complainants and Maria Fe Picardal, one of Basilisa’s children, met Cabales at his office.

During the meeting, Cabales asked Maria Fe to turn over the keys to the stall to the complainants as they are the stall’s actual occupants. Maria Fe promised to turn over the keys within the week after the meeting.

But Maria Fe never delivered the keys and other materials to the complainants.

After the meeting, Cabales also allowed the complainants to continue to sell meat at their stall.

On Oct. 21, 2021, Cabales issued a certification that attested that the complainants were the actual occupants of the stall.

Temporary closure

But when Arce replaced Cabales on Oct. 23, 2021, she immediately ordered the temporary closure of the complainants’ stall. The complainants claimed that Arce didn’t even give them a notice before closing their stall.

The complainants stated that despite their stall’s closure, they continued to pay daily rentals and processed their business permits at the City Treasurer’s Office.

According to the complainants, they were told by Arce that their business operations were illegal since Basilisa had executed a “waiver” to her office. But the complainants claimed Arce never showed them a copy of the alleged waiver.

The complainants said that in February 2022, they were surprised to find that their stall was already opened and was occupied by another person.

Sold for P500,000

The complainants were also told by Seno, whom they alleged to be a notorious fixer at the market, that they could no longer do anything as the respondents reportedly sold their stall to another person for P500,000. They even provided a voice recording of their conversation with Seno as evidence.

The complainants claimed that Arce is an abusive public official as the latter would just laugh and say, “you can do nothing about your stall,” when asked by the former about their stall.

The complaints further said that Cenas connived with Arce to deliberately deny the complainants their right to continue their livelihood because of “material or financial gain.”