Councilor files charges vs city tourism officer-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Friday, September 14, 2012
COUNCILOR Edison Bilog filed corruption and administrative charges against city tourism officer Benedicto Alhambra Wednesday morning at the City Prosecutor’s Office.
“I would not be foolish enough to implicate him if he’s innocent or he’s without knowledge on this issue,” Bilog said.
In his affidavit-complaint, the councilor said that sometime in August, after attending an official function at the Baguio Convention Center, Alhambra approached him while he was about to enter his car parked in front of the convention center.
After some greetings, the councilor said that Alhambra told him, “Pare yung sa Athletic Bowl Development meron ka basta suporta lang sa TOR,” to which he answered “Oppose ako dun.”
Then on August 9, around 1:31 p.m., Alhambra allegedly called him up using the tourism officer’s number and told him the group involved in the proposed Athletic Bowl development wants to meet him regarding what the tourism officer allegedly previously mentioned in exchange of his support to the TOR.
“He further informed me that they are more than willing to meet me at Narda’s, particularly at Ebai’s Café at 4 p.m.,” he said in his affidavit.
“Thereafter, I told him that I will be thinking it over and he told me that they would be waiting for me at the said place. That we have talked for about 43 seconds during that conversation,” he added.
However, a few minutes later, Bilog claimed to have received a text message from Alhambra stating, “Pare, sorry. May emergency trip cla 4 manila, nagpareset ng mtg pagbalik. Txt u again when. Thanks,” to which the councilor answered, “Ok.”
Bilog said all conversations and text messages are all stored in his cellular phone.
He said what he told the City Council on Monday was that elements of an attempted bribery are incomplete as he opted to file a case of corruption of a public official instead.
The councilor will also file a similar complaint at the Civil Service Commission.
Both city officials also filed their respective affidavits with the Committee on Ethics chaired by Councilor Philian Weygan-Allan.
Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas said Weygan will no longer investigate the allegations as cases have already been filed in the court.
Alhambra, for his part, told Sun.Star Baguio that Bilog’s allegations are all lies and maliciously done to damage his reputation.
Alhambra said he will immediately file a counter charge of libel and perjury upon consultation with his legal counsel once he receives a copy of the complaint against him.
He will also go as far as filing a disbarment case against Bilog through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for what he has done to his reputation as a government official for the past 40 years.
“It has affected my family. I know that this is sort of a politically tainted especially that the election period starts next month and it is a motivated move as that it is manipulated in a way that it has first attacked the executive department,” he said.
He added that he will charge Bilog for conduct unbecoming of a public official for falsely accusing him of an alleged crime in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“It is an obvious attempt to convince me to align to his favor to taint the names of his co-officials which is of no truth to begin with,” he said.
“The affidavit imputes to me something that I could not have done in the course of my work, I am not even in the position to discuss such matters, as I am not completely aware of the proposed development of the Baguio Athletic Bowl at the City Council,” he added.
The tourism officer added he was singled out by the councilor because he is for the development of the dilapidated and crumbling Athletic Bowl as part of his Sports Tourism Program.
Alhambra also said that Bilog might have implicated him as he also revealed in his privilege speech that a Filipino-Korean developer is being favored in the Athletic Bowl development.
He said to be easily identified with Koreans because of the Sister City Partnerships, he implements as tourism officer and he is often seen welcoming members of the Korean community especially those coming from Baguio’s sister cities.
“I cannot even recall some of the events he said at the Convention Center where I hold office,” he said. “If these incidents are indeed true and that it transpired last month, if he really knew his obligations, he must have clearly filed the case there and then. It is like an afterthought after he insisted that the Athletic Bowl development is a done deal.”
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 15, 2012.