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Cebu
Monday, September 27, 2021
CEBU

Bzzzzz: Art Barrit alleges supplier of P19.5-M packed meals is ‘just a dummy’ and he can prove it. We’re an open book, says C.A. Casas. NBI probe might tell if there’s looting.

CEBU. (From left) Arturo Barrit, Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., and NBI sketch of Atty. Rex Fernandez's shooter. (SunStar File/NBI)

Heeding a subpoena

From an allegation on his Facebook page, labor official Arturo Barrit’s suspicion of irregularity in the choice of a supplier to Cebu City Hall is raised to the level of an inquiry by the National Bureau of Investigation in the region. The reason: he filed a formal complaint.

Barrit, Associated Labor Unions (ALU) executive assistant to national executive officials, has been subpoenaed to appear before NBI-7 Tuesday morning, September 14, to “give evidence” in an investigation into his complaint of an “alleged questionable transaction” entered into by the City Government with private caterer M&R Food Services.

WHAT, WHO HE’LL BRING. Barrit told Bzzzzz Monday, September 13, he’d “bring all the documents” given him by “City Hall friends” for the NBI to validate, as well as the people outside City Hall “involved in the preparation of the packed meals.” He alleged Marvin Gillera — who is listed in the business permit with “Mrs. Rhea Gillera” — “is just a dummy.” Barrit said he can point to the place where the meals were prepared by only two to three persons with no health certificate, in a house (“near a canal”), which has no business permit.

Art Barrit’s complaint is mainly that the private supplier has a recorded capitalization of only P50,000 (fifty thousand pesos) but was awarded the total amount of P19,504,962. Of which, P5,014,000 was for 50,140 packed meals at P100 each and P5,436,300 for 54,363 packed meals, also at P100 each.

Tuesday, September 14, Barrit alleged a “monopoly” of City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. in selecting the caterers -- who, when and how much to order -- a “discretion” that enables him to pick favored suppliers. Barrit said Casas ordered packed meals from 11 suppliers, two of whom have no City Hall business permit. He alleged “there are evidences that... most of the meals delivered by M&R were undervalued,” based on description in the purchase orders and what were actually delivered.

STRIKING INDICATORS. Barrit itemized the content of the meal — vegetables, 50 ml. bottled water, dessert, main dish of fish, beef or pork — but that is for commercial food experts to assess if the commodity was overpriced. Immediately striking though are:

[1] The caterer being “under-qualified,” given its low capital, which is a pittance compared to the total amount of the contracts, casting doubt on the finances of the supplier;

[2] The alleged non-existence of the business operation at the address specified in its permit; and

[3] The couple, the purported owners, are not the real operators of the business.

Barrit’s post of his accusation compares the City Hall “irregularity” to the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. mess in the national government. Pharmally also is allegedly capitalized with only P625,000 while its contracts totaled P34.44 billion. And Pharmally’s addresses were “either non-existent, left vacant, or were barely occupied.”

The same badges of fraud, as the lawyers will put it.

’BY THE BOOK.’ City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. last September 2 said the City “has been careful in all its transactions and followed the proper procedure in the procurement process.” He added, “by the book man ang among pagpadagan,” without however answering the issues raised. Casas said he can do that to people who have “concerns or questions.” They can go to City Hall and he will “personally explain these to them.”

And inevitably, political interests are dragged by other City Hall defenders. Art Barrit is running for city councilor under the opposition BOPK. Barrit said this has nothing to do with his political plan. “This is an issue that all Cebuanos have to rally behind... an issue of corruption to the highest degree.”

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Sketch of Fernandez’s killer

NBI-7 has released the cartographic sketch of the shooter in the ambush killing of Atty. Rex Fernandez at a street junction in Banawa, Guadalupe, Cebu City last August 26.

The gunman — yes, the NBI says “male” — is also described as “more or less” 40 years old and 5’4” to 5’6” tall, slim and with brown complexion.

As many such sketches go, they help little in identifying the perpetrator. Worse now because people wear the mask as a mandate. The face covering helps the fight agains Covid; it also makes it easier for criminals to hide their identity.

Many people must look like the killer, given the exposed haircut, forehead and eyes common to many men.

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Waiting for final ‘kamada’

One Cebu -- the local political party, not the part of a unified Cebu slogan in fighting Covid — will disclose its national candidates and alliances “well after” the November 15 deadline for substitution of candidates.

One Cebu secretary general Representative PJ Garcia, Capitol News reported Sunday (September 12), said party leaders “deemed it best” to wait since the situation is “quite fluid.”

While statements and indications have been made, they don’t tell the situation until after the filing of the COCs or certificates of candidacy and the deadline for substitutions.

Most everyone is not, in a way, placing bets until the positioning of parties and candidates is fixed. They wait for the final combination of alliances at the capital before picking which can help them most in the election. “Huwata ang kamada.” As the late Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia would say, Local Politics 101.

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