A DAY before a scheduled sitio basketball league tournament in Barangay Buot-Taup, Cebu City Hall ordered the removal of basketball boards and goals.
At noon yesterday, members of the Squatters Prevention and Encroachment Elimination Division (Speed) arrived in Sitio Taup on board two barangay-owned trucks and immediately started removing the boards and goal posts despite objections from residents.
The boards and goal posts were donated by Kugi Uswag Sugbu (Kusug) mayoral bet Alvin Garcia and congressional candidate Jonathan Guardo, the residents said.
Arman Sibla, the chairman of the basketball tournament for their sitio’s annual fiesta, was irked when the boards and goal posts were removed that he challenged Barangay Councilor Billy Melocura to a fistfight.
To prevent any commotion, a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team led by SPO2 Reynante Nioda was sent to calm Sibla down.
Sibla, in an interview, alleged that Melocura and Barangay Councilor Rosalita Callino, the former barangay captain, had asked City Hall to remove the boards because these were from the opposition.
Melocura and Callino are both affiliated with Cebu City’s administration party Bando Osmeña- Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).
“We asked them to postpone the removal of the boards to Saturday, when the basketball league ends. They didn’t grant our request and even removed the goal posts,”
Sibla said that since last year, he and fellow residents had asked City Hall to provide them with basketball boards as their boards were already dilapidated.
But they did not receive any response from City Hall, said Sibla.
Sibla added that instead of asking from the City, they approached Guardo who had provided them with a new set of basketball boards.
Sibla said the City Government has no right to remove the basketball goal posts as these have been in the barangay since the term of Garcia.
Aside from Sibla, more than 300 residents of Sitio Taup were irked by what happened since the league is part of the activities in line with their annual fiesta tomorrow.
Melocura, in a separate interview, denied asking City Hall to remove the basketball boards and said he himself was surprised when he heard that they would remove the boards and goal posts yesterday.
“I was just following orders,” Melocura said in Bisaya.
But Callino, in a separate interview, told Sun.Star Cebu that residents of Sitio Taup are twisting facts because the boards were replaced by the ones provided by City Hall
“Amo naman na gi-ilisan atong niaging semana, pero ila man gibalik ang karaan (We already replaced the boards with new ones but they put back the old boards),” said Callino.
She added that they have included the basketball goal posts as the residents of Sitio Taup have illegally removed them from their original place near a chapel in the same area.
In an earlier report, Buot-Taup Barangay Captain Richie Sibla had asked Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to spare the barangay from the alleged “basketball terrorism” when members of Speed had attempted to remove their opposition-donated boards recently.
The barangay chief claimed that Callino, who was his rival during the last barangay elections, is envious of their weekly basketball tournaments that started just last week. (JKV)