Bus of contention-A A +A
Thursday, March 7, 2013
ADMINISTRATIVE and criminal charges were filed against Acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale and six other public officials before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas over the allegedly illegal confiscation of a government-owned tourist bus in Barili town on Feb. 5.
Complainant Ray Bayno accused Magpale and six other respondents of grave coercion, misconduct, abuse of authority and carnapping.
The other respondents were Barili Mayor Teresito Mariñas, Provincial General Services Officer Eva Encabo, Barili Police Chief Insp. Arvi Arbuis, and Barili Town Hall workers Vicente Villarin, Georgito Alquizola and George Quirante, as well as 16 other unidentified persons.
The Provincial Government gave the bus to Barili last November as reward for the town’s clean and green program.
But the vehicle was turned over to the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) of Barili, not to the Municipal Government whose town officials were fighting over who gets custody of it.
In a memorandum of agreement with Capitol, the ABC took full responsibility for the maintenance of the bus.
Barili Vice Mayor Marlon Garcia, brother of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, had said Mayor Teresito Mariñas did not have authority to keep the tourist bus. Mariñas is allied with the Liberal Party, while the Garcias belong to rival One Cebu.
Encabo said, though, that the bus was cannibalized—several of its parts were removed—when they found it at the compound of Pragmatic Development Construction.
The parts of the bus were returned, she said, and she takes this as an admission of guilt.
Some of the parts—including tires with rim, hydraulic jack, tool kit, wheel nuts—are now stored at the Capitol.
Lawyer Dara Acusar, spokesperson of Acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale, said Bayno’s complaint was a form of revenge.
Magpale earlier filed a complaint for malversation of public funds against Governor Garcia over Capitol’s purchase of the Balili estate in Barangay Tinaan, City of Naga.
In his complaint-affidavit, Bayno, a watchman at the Pragmatic Development
Construction Corp. in Barangay Guibuangan, accused the respondents of conniving to confiscate the tourist bus parked inside the firm's compound.
Bayno said he was instructed by Guibuangan Barangay Captain Nelson Gingoyon not to release the bus to anyone.
He said it was Gingoyon who brought the vehicle to the Pragmatic compound for maintenance check-up. While it was parked at Pragmatic’s compound, Gingoyon took some of the bus’ parts—like tires and tools—for safekeeping.
Bayno said Encabo, accompanied by 3 policemen and more than 15 personnel of the Barili Municipal Government, came and demanded that they be allowed to search the warehouse.
Bayno said in his complaint that he tried to stop them but he was scared and eventually gave in. He said he also appealed to Encabo not to take the bus without permission from Gingoyon, but the latter refused to heed his request.
He said the respondents allegedly threatened to arrest him if he did not allow them to take the bus.
Encabo denied she threatened Bayno. “Tan-awa ning akong beauty og maka threaten ba ni nila (Look at my face and tell me if this can threaten those people),” she said in jest.
Bayno said Encabo, Arbuis and other town hall employees and policemen took orders from Magpale and Mariñas and confiscated the vehicle without any lawful court order. The tourist bus was then brought to the premises of the Barili town hall.
Gingoyon also executed his affidavit to support the filing of charges against the respondents.
Provincial Legal officer Marino Martinquilla directed lawyer Ritchel Capaje to coordinate with Barili and Capitol officials named in the complaint to decide how to answer the charges.
Encabo said that before they learned that parts of the bus have been taken away, Magpale ordered concerned barangay captains to turn over the bus to the town mayor.
The village chiefs were given a week to comply but when they still failed to turn over the vehicle, Capitol sought the help of the police to locate the bus.
When they found the bus within the compound of Pragmatic Construction, its tires and other parts were missing.
Encabo said her office asked the supplier of the bus, Con Equip, to help identify the other parts that were lost and learned that it will cost the Provincial Government P115,695 to replace them.
Acusar said that they are trying to determine if the construction firm whose compound housed the bus could be held liable for the loss of some of the vehicle’s parts.
“Contractor man ni siya sa Probinsya. So pwede ba nato ni siya ma-blocklist (This is a contractor of the Provincial Government. Can we blocklist it)?” Acusar asked.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 07, 2013.