A FORMER casual employee of Cebu City Hall has accused a councilor of using public funds for personal gain.
Michael Abellana, 55, said he was deployed by Councilor Gerardo Carillo to the restaurant Barrio Grill as a cook, while he was being paid by the City Government to work as an administrative aide III in the councilor’s office.
Carillo denied the allegation, saying that Abellana worked in the restaurant only outside office hours and was being paid separately for his work as a cook.
The councilor said that Abellana’s pronouncements against him are politically motivated.
Abellana, who came forward to Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, said he became an employee of Carillo starting in July 2013 and was being paid P10,000 monthly by the City.
Being an administrative aide of the councilor, Abellana said, he was supposed to submit Carillo’s proposed resolutions or ordinances to the council secretariat or have documents signed by concerned City Hall offices or departments.
However, by January 2014 until the middle of the year, Abellana said, he was sent to work for the restaurant.
During these times, Abellana said, he would wake up early in the morning so he could punch in his time card at City Hall before 8 a.m.
Before noon, he would then go back to City Hall to punch out and wait until 1 p.m. to punch in again before going home.
“Igka-hapon, usahay mobalik ko sa opisina pero usahay mohangyo ko nga dili na lang tungod sa kakapoy sa pagluto. Mobalik ra ko igka alas singko aron mo-punch out (Sometimes, I would go back to the office in the afternoon, but other times I would beg off because I was exhausted from cooking. I would then go back at 5 p.m. to punch out),” he said in an interview yesterday.
Abellana said it was only later he realized that the practice was wrong.
“Unsa gud akong kalibutan nga bawal diay na? Sweldado ko sa funds sa City unya galuto ko didto. Nisalig sad ko kay he (Carillo) is a lawyer...Di baya ko abogado. Second year college ra gud ko taman (How was I supposed to know that was wrong. The City paid me, but I cooked for him. I trusted him because he is a lawyer and I’m not. I made it only up to second year in college),” he said.
By Dec. 24, Abellana said, he finally decided to resign.
“Tan-aw man gud nako, sayop gyud to (I saw that the practice was wrong),” he said.
Abellana said he also decided to resign after Carillo defected from the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) to Team Rama, led by Mayor Michael Rama.
Abellana admitted he is a BOPK supporter.
But Abellana said his political affiliations and his allegations have nothing to do with Carillo running as Team Rama’s candidate for congressman in the south district in the 2016 elections.
“Ni-testimony lang ko kay ang akong gusto di na to mausab sa ubang empleyado...Wa ko’y labot sa politika (I came forward because I don’t want that to happen to another employee. Politics has nothing to do with this),” he said.
Sought for comment about this, Carillo, in a separate interview yesterday, said it was not he who asked Abellana to work in the restaurant but that Abellana himself volunteered.
He added that Abellana said he needed additional income because his father got sick.
Carillo said that the P500 Abellana received every time he cooked was over and above the salary he received from the City.
“Naluoy lang ta mao nang atong gitabagan (I felt sorry for him, so I decided to help),” he said.
Carillo also explained that Abellana only worked in the restaurant at dawn, before his workday at City Hall.
Carillo further said that his former employee worked for the restaurant for just a month. The restaurant, he added, belongs to his girlfriend.
For the councilor, the accusations against him are politically motivated; he pointed out that Abellana now works for Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City, south district).
“Init na man ang kaha sa politika. Gigamit ra na siya. Naluoy ko niya kay nagpaggamit siya (Politics is heating up. He’s just being used. I feel pity for him that he has allowed himself to be used like this). But he should be held liable for the statements he makes, especially if these are libelous,” he said.
Abellanosa and Carillo are the potential rivals for the House seat in the south district in next year’s polls.
Carillo challenged Abellana to file a case against him. He said he is also preparing to file an estafa case against Abellana because the latter allegedly failed to return a certain amount of money to him.
Asked if Abellana is working for him, Congressman Abellanosa said yesterday that he isn’t.
“I know Michael used to be active in the past campaigns of the BOPK. Michael is not connected with my office but I will be willing to accommodate an honest person who resists being dragged into illegal acts by certain officials even if it will cost him his only means of livelihood,” he told Sun.Star Cebu in a text message.