BACOLOD City Councilor Claudio Puentevella issued an apology on Friday, September 14, after he punched his fellow councilor, Dindo Ramos, during the regular session on Wednesday.
Puentevella, who held a press conference with his uncle Art Puentevella at his residence in Barangay Villamonte, said the incident was a humbling lesson and it is something he is not proud of.
“I would like to express my deepest apologies to our people and my colleagues at the City Council. What happened was unfortunate and I take full responsibility for my actions. I am not perfect and like many of us, I have my own flaws,” he said.
He added: “Standing up to one’s own convictions can be very challenging and difficult. One can only endure so much, one can only turn a blind eye for so long. Someone has got to stand up eventually for the bullying. I know that what happened was inappropriate, but I hope that we will not allow that incident to deviate us from the real [reason] why I stood my ground.”
On Wednesday, members of the August body were discussing the request of the mayor for an authority to sign on the proposed contract of agreement to be entered into by IPM Construction and Development Corporation (IPM-CDC) for the construction of Bacolod City Cell No. 2 in the sanitary landfill in Barangay Felisa.
This led to an exchange between Puentevella and Ramos which quickly escalated into a heated argument, prompting the city vice mayor to call for a recess.
During the break, both Puentevella and Ramos stood up, but the former attacked the latter. Their colleagues immediately pacified them.
The Council consequently filed and approved a resolution reprimanding and excluding Puentevella in the session.
Puentevella said that based on their Internal Rules of Procedures, it provides that the soft copy or draft of the agenda will be available in the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) records section by Tuesday morning of every week and the hard copies of the final copy of the agenda will be distributed not later than noon time of the session day.
He said this provision is so established so matters for discussion are carefully studied and deliberated by the Council.
Puentevella noted that in this particular instance, and in many instances where critical issues were to be taken up particularly the 25-year extension for Bredco to operate and manage the port, among others, the agenda and the correspondences were only provided [with the agenda] 30 minutes before the start of the session.
“One particular item that stood out in the just received agenda on Wednesday’s session was the P50 million project that will be awarded to IPM-CDC for the construction of Cell No.2 in the sanitary landfill in Barangay Felisa. Considering the magnitude of the funding required and with public interest at stake, I manifested, without malice, my inquiry why we were only informed of the said item to be taken up on a very short notice when in fact some of the members received the communication or request as early as September 7,” Puentevella said.
He said he believed it is important for councilors to be provided ample time and information to carefully study and weigh-in the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal, especially a project that requires Bacolod’s taxpayers to shell out P50 million.
“Apparently, some members of our Council took my inquiry as an affront. I feel that tolerating this practice of hiding the agenda until the last minute has gone long enough and I believe that it is a matter of public interest that there should be an objective discourse on the item. It is sad that Councilor Ramos responded by flaunting his position as a lawyer and a certified public accountant, which is beside the point, and insinuated that the rest of us of who are not lawyers and CPAs are lesser mortals because, we according to him, cannot adapt and enter into intellectual discussion given only short notice, “he added.
Puentevella admitted that because of the incident, his family was also affected including his mother while his father, former Bacolod mayor Monico Puentevella, is on travel abroad.
Puentevella said its part of life and he will prove to the court that he (Ramos) challenged him for a fight.
He said his aunt told him that it was a mutual combat and it was a self-defense which based on some photos, it showed that Ramos also struck him with his fist.
“It was a boxing. It’s not a good memory, not something that I will be proud of, not something that I will show to my kids or nephews, but I had to defend my right, dignity and my convictions,” he added.
Puentevella said if his party mates feel that he is no longer serving them well, he will not run for 2019 elections.
“I still have three brothers, if they don’t like me so I will not run for the next elections,” he said.
He added that he will talk with his political party, Magbinuligay kita sa Kauswagan (MKK), to determine if he is a liability in the group.
Ramos had earlier said he did not expect that Puentevella will box him because it was only a normal discussion in the session hall.
“I’m not doing anything against him [Puentevella], I am only expressing my stand that we can ask questions because the resource persons are already inside the session hall and if he is not ready to ask a question, he can also make a request for another appearance of the resource persons,” he said.
Ramos is preparing to file criminal and administrative charges against Puentevella.