LAPU-LAPU City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan has announced that the City will launch an administrative investigation into illegal activities allegedly taking place at the public market of Barangay Poblacion.
The activities include a “payola” scheme and other illicit practices, which are believed to be the reason for the killing of Lapu-Lapu City market consultant Christopher Ceniza.
In an interview on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, Chan said the investigation hopes to ensure that the people behind the illegal activities face both criminal and administrative sanctions.
The investigation also seeks to put an end to nefarious activities within the market.
Chan said initial investigation revealed that the mastermind’s group was padding the rental for market stalls, asking vendors to pay P500 instead of P400.
The alteration of market receipts and the practice of a “payola” system were also reported. Payola refers to the unethical practice of bribing someone to promote a particular product or interest.
Chan said Ceniza had discovered the illegal activities and warned the culprits to stop. He later sent information to Chan about these activities last 2023.
“Apparently, Mr. Chris Ceniza knew about this for a long time, but he chose not to divulge it to protect his relationship with the culprits. However, he couldn’t bear it anymore and warned them that if this happened again, he would talk to the mayor,” said Chan in a mix of Cebuano and English.
On Monday, Ceniza’s wife, Pajo Barangay Councilor Jill Ceniza and the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LCPO) filed a murder case against five suspects.
The suspects include the gunman’s alleged driver, barangay tanod (village guard) Rodel Asuque Mojado, and alleged middleman Aldrin Peñaranda Dungog, a job order (JO) worker from the City’s Clearing Team Department who both issued statements pointing to the gunman and two alleged masterminds.
The alleged gunman (name withheld) is currently detained at the LLCPO’s custodial facility after he was arrested for a drug case following Ceniza’s murder.
Lt. Col. Christian Torres, LCPO spokesperson and head of the City Investigation and Detection Management Unit, said according to Dungog’s confession, Ceniza’s killing was masterminded by a female department head of the Lapu-Lapu City Hall.
Chan said the other mastermind is also a casual worker from the Clearing Team Department.
The names of the two alleged masterminds and the gunman have not been revealed by authorities pending the issuance of arrest warrants by the court.
Meanwhile, Chan ordered the city administrator to perform all administrative processes against the suspects, including dismissing them from service.
In a separate interview, Ceniza’s wife, Jill, expressed disbelief that the alleged masterminds would plot to kill her husband. She said the female suspect even borrowed money from them last Dec. 15, 2023.
But she said the two masterminds might have been afraid that their illegal acts would be divulged.
Ceniza’s widow said she is confident that police have the right suspects with all the evidence gathered by the LLCPO including Dungog and Mojado’s confessions pointing to the two masterminds.
Torres said they will wait for the City Prosecutor’s Office resolution confirming the case and the issuance of an arrest warrant against the suspects.
Ceniza was shot dead Tuesday, Jan. 2, by unidentified assailants onboard a motorcycle in the vicinity of the Poblacion public market while assisting collectors with night-time deliveries such as vegetables, fish, and meat.