City will pay P12M but to whom?

Joe Kenneth Arbas (member), Karissa Maxino (chairman), Mikel Bandal (member) - Committee on Rules Councilors

1,040 COVID MEALS MESS

The City Government will pay P12Million to the food supplier  whom the Court will order to be paid—- amidst a five-week old City Coun-cil  controversy  and dilemma as to  how to pay one major  supplier who apparently left most of the job to a city councilor who is now to be accused by his own colleagues  of conflict of interest before the Omudsman and Office of the President.

“We will pay P12Million —but to whom?”was the big question of  persistent proponent Councilor Joe Kenneth Arbas and Rules Committee chair person Councilor Karissa Tolentino-Maxino who upon the instance of Vice Mayor Alan Cordova , initiated a full blown investigation  in the case of Councilor Edgar Lentorio  and his client George Patrick Henry owner of Aladdin food restaurant.

Aladdin on record and in paper in City Hall  is  supposed to be the awarded-supplier of  packed food in the height of the escalation  Covid pandemic from April to June 2020.  Aladdin along with Rice Box and Boy Kanin restos,  were food suppliers to over 1,040 fronliners  in April to May but in the later part of June only  Aladdin reported had it solo.

Councilor  Arbas reported that the sad part is Boy Kanin and Rice Box had mayor’s permit except Aladdiin at the award and start of the job order.  By September, City hall already  paid Boy Kanin and Rice Box because they had complete papers,Arbas found out. Aladdin until now could not be paid its  whooping bills  of P12Million! And his lawyer Atty Nerio Bulado has written the city a demand letter for payment.

WHY P12MILLION?

As Metro Columnist Efren Padilla, the city urban planner wrote:

“And so I did a rough computation regarding food packs that the City distributed to take care of our frontliners, workers, volunteers, and quarantined people: At a fixed contract price of P65 for breakfast, P150 for lunch, and P150 for dinner or P365 per person per day, I gathered that during the early days of the pandemic, about 1,040 people were fed in one month for about P379,600 per day  for that one month). The total expense just for a month is about P11 million ” from May to June.

PLUS and old bill in the April-May portion, Aladdin’s bill reachedP12Millioin, insisted Kagawad Kenneth Arbas,  an amount enough to raise eyebrows. Although the computation was legitimate, he said.

WE WILL PAY

The City government under the principle of Quantum Meruit, (service already rendered) will pay the billings.—-but to whom? Was the question of both Councilors Arbas and Maixino and the rest of the city Council  presided by Vice Mayor Alan Cordova who was strongly resolved against prompt payment without first scrutinizing the following circumstances:

  1. When Aladdin started the job, it had no mayor’s permit, thus should have been disqualified; who invited Aladdin to do business under this handicap? Only later in the race, by June,  Aladdin got a mayor’s and business permit; Question:  will the City pay a supplier who, at the start,  had no business doing business in the City due to the lack of mayor’s permit?  Who allowed Aladdin to operate? And why of all food suppliers, why Aladdin? Who chose Aladdin and why?—Councilors asked in unison during one session.
  2. Councilor Arbas who volunteered to be the lead lawyer in the forthcoming Ombudsman case reported that:  Aladdin’s poker buddy Councilor Edgar Lentorio accommodated Aladdin to be the supplier .Yet, nobody admits at whose instance.
  3. Lentorio who is a supplier and owner of a Lechon business , according to Councilor Arbas before the city council probe,  virtually did the job for Aladdin from the purchase of kitchen wares, meat supply , water supply, cooking at the backdoor of Lentorio’s  law office, rental of P1000 a day in the  cooking area at Lentorio’s yard;  buying of collateral supplies at 143 receipted to Lentorio, and credit lines from other suppliers, and to top it all, delivery of packed meals by Lentorio’s people, thrice daily  to frontliners all over the city  in May and June — according to Councilor Arbas who did the sleuthing and info-gathering from documented witness, as he presented all these before the city council session.

LENTORIO SIDE:

He made a privilege speech, denouncing the malicious imputations, denied all accusations, chose to remain silent,  and dared accusers to file a case in court, to avoid trial by publicity. In a week or two, the formal case will be filed before the Office of the President for administrative aspect; and the Ombudsman for the criminal aspect, Arbas and Maxino assured.

The CHRONICLE was personally promised by Lentorio to submit his written and audio files of his privilege speech which until now never came.

LEST POLITICIZED :

Lest the issue be politicized, Maxino , rules  chair person and Arbas, committee member with  Kags. Mike Bandal and Lentorio himself,  zeroed on two major points of the issue:

  1. The City will pay the supplier or anyone whom the Court will adjudge as rightful and legitimate payee,  considering all disqulifying circumtances especially at the start of the job; and
  2. Focus on the role of Councilor Lentorio, as an elected public officer and legislator, whether of not he is liable administratively or criminally for his role in this multi-million  frontliners’ Covid meals controversy.

THE 1,040 FRONTLINERS

Finally, columnist Efren Padilla, Dumaguete City Urban Planner  wrote:

“Inter Agency Task Force is  led by ou city  Chief Executive, whose membership is composed of various government agencies such as :

Health, Tourism, Traffic Management, Disaster Unit, PNP, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Department of Trade & industry……

I am also thankful to the City Council and barangay officials who supported the City’s initiatives, as well as these 1,040  frontliners, the community-at-large for their donations, and the many volunteers who hardly slept during the early days of the pandemic trying  to take care of us all.”

BARANGAY + Internal  AUDITOR

All city barangay captains led by LIGA President Diony Amores , and  the city internal auditor Faronito Ablong, last week attested in writing that everything was in order in accordance to government audit  rules in the bureaucracy. (see separate story  of Auditor Ablong  on Page 1.)

MAYOR BACKS SP

City Mayor Felipe Remollo in a statement said that in the exercise of democracy, he supports the initiatives of all well-meaning city legislators, officials and citizens ,by endorsing the City Council’s approved resolutions in promoting good governance and the fight against corruption in government.