AFTER complaining that the Cebu City Government removed his basketball boards and deprived him of venues for his barangay sports programs, businessman Jonathan Guardo again cried foul yesterday.
This time, he complained about an alleged attempt to prevent him from distributing relief goods to Barangay Calamba’s fire victims.
Barangay Captain Victor Quijano Jr. denied any attempt to distribute assistance, and said Guardo was just miffed that he decided to support the administration.
A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official, who requested anonymity, said election rules do not apply to Guardo’s complaint because it was not yet the election period yesterday. That period starts today and lasts until June 9.
The official, however, said Guardo could always allege intimidation or coercion, which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
Guardo said that early yesterday morning, his political leader, former Calamba barangay councilor Cora Lim, called and informed him that barangay tanods warned her against continuing with the distribution scheduled at 10 a.m.
The tanods, he said, told Lim they were sent to warn her that those who accept the goods will endanger the jobs of their relatives who work for the barangay.
The tanods, Guardo claimed, were instructed by Barangay Captain Quijano under orders from City Hall.
Sun.Star Cebu tried sending a text message to Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who will clash with Guardo for the south district congressional seat in the May elections, but these went unanswered.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama, on the other hand, said he did not know anything about the situation and has no hand in it.
“Cora Lim called me up telling me that tanods visited her early in the morning and asked her to cancel the distribution, and that anybody who has relatives working in the barangay would cause their services to be terminated,” Guardo said.
“She was asking me to cancel. But all the packs were ready, so I insisted that the distribution continue,” Guardo told Sun.Star Cebu in a telephone interview.
The distribution went without any hitches yesterday.
“Wala hinooy tanod didto sa distribution, pero pareho ra sa nang-harass sila ba. It was another form of harassment. I even told the gathering nga pareho ni sa mga Ampatuan ba, hadlok-hadlokon ta (this is what the Ampatuans allegedly do, frighten people),” he said.
Guardo said what he did was not about politics.
He said had promised the 250 families of Sitios Almacin and Alcica, who were left homeless after the Dec. 3 fire, that he would donate gift items to them.
“Nadugay lang kay kani laging na-busy pud ta. Maong karon ra adlawa (The distribution was delayed because I was busy. That’s why we waited until yesterday),” he said.
In a separate interview, Barangay Captain Quijano denied what Guardo said.
He said it is understandable because he has recently severed ties with the opposition leader and sided with the Osmeña administration.
“Gihimo lang ko niyang scapegoat kay kulangan man kuno ang iyang gipanghatag, naay wala kadawat. Dili sad ko mobabag og bisan unsang distribution kay modaghan hinoon ang akong kontra (They are making a scapegoat out of me because there were some who received no aid. I would never block such efforts because that would only create more enemies” Quijano said. “They just want publicity.”
He said the two sitios are vote-rich places so it would have been political suicide on his part to block the food distribution by Guardo.
He alleged Guardo has his own list of recipients and that those he thought were allied with Osmeña were not given any aid.
Told of Quijano’s words, Guardo said it was not true that they discriminated against anyone, saying all the fire victims received help.
Guardo previously complained that the City has removed the basketball boards he set up in various places in the south district and replaced these with Osmeña’s boards.
He also alleged that barangays were instructed to refuse him the chance to rent their sports complex for his boxing events and other sports programs.
In a separate interview, Cebu City Elections Officer Marchel Sarno said that in the case of the basketball boards, it is the owner of the property who has the right over them.
If the boards are City-owned, then it is the City Government that exercises ownership.
But if the boards are privately-owned and Guardo had the owners’ consent, then the City cannot touch them.