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Albee’s first order of the day: Probe claims of corruption at City Hall but former city dad says it’s witch-hunting

  • Among the reasons cited by Benitez for the creation of the Committee is the “pursuit for good governance and in search of the truth, for which there was public clamor” that led to a “need to review documents of the City.”
  • Former Councilor Archie Baribar, a member of Grupo Progreso and close ally of former Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia says the process is “irregular”

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The city’s new mayor, Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez has declared that he wants to start his term at City Hall on a “clean slate.”

A lawyer and former city dad, however, who is allied with former Mayor Evelio Leonardia, has called the truth probe “plain and simple witch-hunting,”saying that it runs against the new chief executive’s call for unity.

Benitez has issued on his first day in office, 1 July 2022, his first executive order creating the Bacolod City Good Governance Committee of 2022.

Former City Councilor Archie Baribar, however, said the forming of the body is “highly irregular” since it is “not the regular course of things.”

Among the reasons cited by Benitez for the creation of the Committee is the “pursuit for good governance and in search of the truth, for which there was public clamor” that led to a “need to review documents of the City.”

DNX has reviewed the Executive Order No. 1, series of 2022 and will present in this report the salient features of the body, its members and its other features.

The review will ensure that:

  • “only obligations that complied with applicable laws, rules and regulations will be honored by the current administration;”
  • “weaknesses in government processes, especially those involving use of public funds, will be identified and corrected;”
  • “grand malevolent schemes of government officials will be prevented;” and
  • “responsible government officials will be held accountable for the graft and corrupt practices that may have causes great disadvantage and irreparable damage to the City and its residents.”

The executive order defines the committee’s nature as ad hoc (Latin for” for this”), which gives the committee a specific intent.

Benitez defined the functions of the committee as:

  • review processes and identify acts that will conform to good governance practices;
  • actively investigate reports and ferret out the truth on the allegations of graft and corruption committed in the City Government, particularly by public officers and employees, their co-principals accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any;
  • steadfastly recommend to the Mayor the appropriate action or measure necessary to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor; and
  • prudently exercise such other acts incidental, appropriate, and necessary to the objectives and purpose of this Order.

The Committee is made up of City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting Jr, who heads it, and it’s two members, City Administrator Pacifico Maghari, and Jose Ray Agpangan, city internal auditor.

The CLO will serve as the secretariat of the committee, which is mandated to assist the committee in its tasks, including consulting with experts.

The Committee’s budget shall also be drawn from that office.

BARIBAR RETORTS

Baribar pointed out the forming of the Commission is not a regular thing as he warned that “chaos would ensue” if all new administrations would probe the one that came before it as in the case of the Commission.

“If you make it a universal rule it will not hold water,” he said.

The seasoned legislator and lawyer also said the probe Benitez has ordered “projects the idea” that the new administration was the one that discovered the red flags “when in fact it was the Commission on Audit that did so.”

He added this, in effect, duplicates the role of the COA.

Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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