CoViD meals mess
The City Council of Dumaguete has started to draft a letter to the Ombudsman requesting for an investigation into the controversial P12 million contract between the City of Dumaguete and Aladdin Restaurant.
The complaint is an offshoot of a Resolution passed last week, which resolves to inform the Mayor that the City Council will be filing a case against Councilor Edgar Lentorio, among others, and requesting the Mayor to do acts necessary under the circumstances, and praying that he will join them in the complaint.
Councilor Michael Bandal said that at the moment, the Council has direct evidence pointing to Lentorio.
He said they are gathering more evidence to come up with a stronger case against others at City Hall who may have been involved in the transactions with Aladdin Restaurant.
Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova said they are still figuring out and analyzing how it happened that the Bids & Awards Committee awarded the P12 million contract to Aladdin Restaurant which is not legally-, financially- and technically-capable to enter into a contract with the City.
Cordova also said he had requested from the Council not to include the name of Dr. Rosana Habaña — girlfriend of Aladdin Restaurant owner Patrick George, and a cousin of Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo — in the drafting of the letter to the Ombudsman.
Aladdin Restaurant is billing the City for the meals served to frontliners during the Enhanced Community Quarantine period.
The Council decided to seek an Ombudsman inquiry after several questions arose about the involvement of Councilor Edgar Lentorio in the deal of Aladdin Restaurant.
“We don’t really have to be so formal about this. Who signs this, we leave it to your discretion. At least before the public, we are perceived to be doing something positive. We cannot avoid people saying we are dragging our feet [on this], and we have to do our part to assuage public opinion,” Cordova said.
Councilor Joe Kenneth Arbas said filing a complaint against a fellow member of the Council and those involved with him for graft and corruption will send a strong message to the people.
Councilor Bandal, on the other hand, said it is high time the Council filed a case against Lentorio, adding that Mayor Remollo had said he was “willing” to file the case in behalf of the City.
Both Lentorio and Mayor Remollo had earlier challenged anyone who had any evidence of wrongdoing to file the proper charges against Lentorio.
Remollo, meanwhile, said any investigation of the City Council should be done in aid of legislation.
“We expect a committee report from the City Council. It’s not in the laws that the Council can discipline their own member. If they have Resolutions, at its best, that’s purely recommendatory.”
Speaking to reporters after the session, the Mayor said there have been no complaints about conflict of interest against a member of the City Council, nor about the procurement or distribution of food packs.
If the expenditure was made against the procedure, Remollo said, the Commission on Audit will give a Notice of Disallowance.
But he said this kind of an investigation is a long process. He cited a case against Dumaguete officials filed in 2010 for technical malversation but that nothing has come out of it even until now.
He said everyone is considered innocent until proven otherwise.