CEBU

Malilong: Lost or found?

The Other Side

HE SAID. They said.

Francisco Benedicto (the Zapatera barangay captain, not the revered ambassador) is on preventive suspension pending the investigation of sexual harassment and other cases filed against him. Apparently, he is at loggerheads with other Zapatera barangay officials.

Late Monday night, some of the other barangay officials entered Benedicto’s office in the barangay hall purportedly to look for the cord of their biometric system and “found” a sachet of shabu placed inside an envelop.

Two days later, Benedicto went to his office, with permission from his temporary successor and accompanied by the police, and “discovered” that the P200,000 in personal money that he placed in a drawer has “disappeared.”

Benedicto said that the shabu allegedly found in his office was planted. His temporary successor suggested that the P200,000 that Benedicto lost was a figment of the imagination.

There are three possibilities: one of them is telling the truth and the other is lying; both are telling the truth; and both of them are lying. Take your pick.

•••

A friend has complained that the garbage in her neighborhood has remained uncollected for three weeks now. Jennifer Bojos, a chief operating officer at Gothong Southern Shipping, lives in Pit-os. Please relay our problem to Mayor Edgar Labella, she pleaded.

I did not tell the mayor, of course. But I did call some friends, including former Lahug barangay captain Dodong Taborada because I was sure he knew the barangay captain of Pit-os.

You see, collection is a responsibility of the barangay, albeit a shared one with the City Government. Lawyer Ely Espinosa, who co-anchors Frankahay Ta, read the law that imposes this duty on the barangay captain and his officials twice in two days on the dyCM radio program last week.

That is why most, if not all, Cebu City barangays have their own garbage trucks, purchased with the City’s money. The reason is easy to see: they know the streets in their jurisdiction better than anyone.

The problem, however, is that when the truck conks out, the barangay cannot have it repaired immediately because of lack of money. That’s when the garbage starts to pile up especially when the City is not alerted immediately to take over the regular garbage truck visits to the barangay concerned.

I’m writing about this because I read somewhere that barangay officials have been charged by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the duty to clear the streets of obstruction. Since garbage is also an obstruction, I hope that the DILG will amend its memorandum to specify that failure to collect the garbage will subject the barangay officials to the same administrative liability as when they clear the streets of vendors and other impediments.

•••

We’re going to bury Doña Conchita Gothong tomorrow, less than a month after we buried Bowen, her eldest son. The months of December and January are supposed to be a festive period but they have been harsh to Doña Conchita and her family. The patriarch, Don Alfredo, also died in January; the family commemorated his 12th death anniversary the other day with a mass at the same chapel where his widow’s wake is held.

Doña Conchita has been a serene and inspiring presence not only to her family but also to their friends. To her, there was no rich or poor, just human beings whose lives she consciously endeavored to touch.

I was one of them. Godspeed, ma’am.


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