Briones: Time to say ‘bye, bye’ to the BMO

WHY do I have a sinking feeling that I’m just looking at the tip of the iceberg?

Oh, I’m referring to yet another solicitation controversy that the Barangay Mayor’s Office (BMO)--this time in Mambaling—is embroiled in.

But unlike what happened to the BMO in Apas, the staff involved in soliciting money from businesses not only for their contingent in the Sinulog Grand Parade but also for their Christmas party get to keep their jobs.

They’re either super-duper close to Mayor Tomas Osmeña or they got luck on their side.

After all, they only got a reprimand for asking the manager of SM Seaside City Cebu and a private individual for financial assistance unlike their colleagues in Apas who were given the boot.

It couldn’t be because the BMO in Mambaling didn’t use the letterhead and logo of the City Government. The signatories, and there are quite a few, used the barangay’s, which, by the way, Barangay Captain Wilfredo Go said they were not authorized to do.

Oh wait, it was the mayor who said he did not find any malice in one of the letters’ contents because--and get this--it was signed by a priest.

“With the signature of the parish priest, it shows you they have nothing to hide. The action taken was what they did wrong,” Osmeña told reporters last Friday.

I suppose the mayor was talking about the solicitation letter for the BMO’s Sinulog contingent and not for its Christmas party.

Yeah, I think he may have overlooked the fact that there are TWO solicitation letters, and one is addressed to the manager of SM Seaside City Cebu.

I don’t think the parish priest, whoever he is, signed that. Not that he had any business signing the other one in the first place.

And I would like to point out that the City Government has been running after the mall at the South Road Properties for their tax dues.

So where’s the malice there, right?

The signatories, if they are elected officials, will be liable for violating Republic Act (RA) 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officers from directly or indirectly requesting or receiving gifts, presents, share, percentage or benefits from other people.

The private individuals, including the parish priest, may also be charged under RA 3019 if found that they conspired with the public officials. Or they can be charged with estafa and swindling.

In my column last Jan. 14, I asked the mayor to disband all the BMOs. After all, as Councilor Joel Garganera pointed out, they’re duplicating the functions of the barangay.

And, based on a DILG 7 opinion in 2016, the BMOs do not even exist.

What Osmeña signed, and I quote Councilor Raymond Garcia, was Executive Order No. 5, which only created the Barangay Disaster Control Center, whose mandate is to assist in times of calamities.

I guess the BMO in Mambaling thought that not having a lechon in a Christmas party would be considered a calamity so it had to ask for cash “donations.”

Anyway, it has become evident that the BMO is turning out to be a liability instead of an asset for the mayor in barangays allied with the opposition. So he should scrap it before the whole thing blows up in his face.
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