Briones: The BMO exists after all

IT was a good thing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña acted quickly on the matter by immediately firing the personnel of the Apas barangay mayor’s office (BMO) who were involved in a solicitation scandal.

“In our system of justice, you’re innocent until proven guilty. But if you’re appointed by Tomas Osmeña, you’re guilty and fired until you prove your innocence. Let this serve as a warning to everybody,” the mayor said.

And scandalous the whole thing was.

Imagine, sending solicitation letters with the logo of the Cebu City Government to business owners and then asking them for a minimum of P100,000 or a maximum of P1 million to sponsor the BMO’s contingent for this year’s Sinulog with a hint that the latter’s business permits were at stake.

The letters’ signatories were Rey Suelto, contingent head, and Ma. Teresa Versoza, marketing head of the BMO Sinulog committee.

Suelto had told SunStar Cebu that he believed they did nothing wrong.

He said they thought it was okay to solicit money because they were in need of funds for their contingent.

If Suelto and Versoza are employed by the City Government, then they can be liable for violating Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which “prohibits civil servants from soliciting or accepting gifts, favors, loans for anything of monetary value in the course of their official duties.”

The law classifies the violation as a grave offense so it is punishable by dismissal from service on the first offense.

But if Suelto and Versoza are not employed by the City Government, then they can be charged with estafa and swindling.

I for one believe the mayor when he said that he did not authorize the Apas BMO’s solicitation. The incident has prompted him to consider disbanding the BMO there.

You know what, while he’s at it, why doesn’t he just disband all the BMOs in the city? After all, aren’t their personnel usurping the functions of duly elected barangay officials?

I’ve been trying to figure out the BMO’s real purpose, and I have been unsuccessful. I checked the City’s website and it doesn’t have anything on the subject.

I dug deeper and found this on Rona Joyce T. Fernandez of SunStar Cebu’s article in December, 2016: “In a previous report, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 Director Rene Burdeos clarified that the creation of the BMO does not duplicate the local government unit’s functions since it does not exist.”

And yet, the solicitation letters that were sent by the Apas BMO for this year’s Sinulog are real. So are Suelto and Versoza. And so is Renato Jardeleza.

Jardeleza is the guy who delivered the letters to business owners. According to some reports, he threatened them regarding their business permits, an allegation that he denied.

Perhaps, it’s time for DILG 7 Director Burdeos to make another clarification. It’s apparent that he made a mistake.

But if he continues to insist that “there ain’t no such thing as a BMO,” then he should have a new moniker: Denial King.
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