Vice mayor bars councilor from conducting casino hearings

CAGAYAN de Oro City Vice Mayor Rainier Joaquin Uy has ordered City Councilor Zaldy Ocon to refrain from conducting more hearings on the proposed construction of a casino in the city instead it will be the City Council who will handle it.

Last February 17, Ocon, as chair of the committee on games and amusement, called for a public hearing attended by supporters and critics of the casino. Councilor Edna Dahino was the lone councilor who attended the hearing.

The vice mayor said "this should not be the case since the issue is sensitive and needs the knowledge and expertise of all the councilors."

Limketkai Sons Inc. is planning to build a casino within its commercial complex and has asked the City Council to pass a resolution "expressing (its) support and no objection to the project."

The plan has generated strong opposition from various religious groups including the Catholic Church which has announced that it will no longer hold masses inside the Limketkai Mall if the casino will be built.

The vice mayor then added that it will be the "committee of the whole" or the entire City Council that will conduct the hearing.

Read: Church, university hold anti-casino forum

Ocon, who has so far conducted one public hearing with religious groups and the academe, willingly agreed to let the new committee handle more hearings in the future.

"I will relinquish but not as chairman of the committee on games and amusement, but only for this issue. Meaning, there will be no more public hearing that will only involve me as the city councilor," he said.

"Walay problema sa ako, kay natabangan hinuon ko, wala ako mapihig kay kami man tanan (No problem for me, at least I got more help in deciding)," he added.

Ocon admitted that this is the first time that the City Council moved to refer a certain issue to the "committee of the whole," citing that this only happens during budget hearings where urgency is present.

Ocon also dismissed reports saying he bypassed the Office of the Vice Mayor in deciding to conduct the public hearing.

"Medyo naulawan ko kay nigawas sa pamantalaan nga nagbuot-buot lang ko ug hearing, nga wala nananghid sa vice mayor (I was humiliated because news reports have surfaced that I did not ask permission from you before conducting the hearing)," he said.

But Ocon denied this accusations saying he was only acting as vice mayor.

"Wala ko magbuot-buot sa akong gihimo, gipapirma ko sa imong pirmahanan kay gi-address man sa imo ang sulat sa Limketkai, ug I was the acting vice mayor then (I did that since I was the acting mayor then)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)

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