3 village officials in hot water over ‘illicit’ fish fee hike
CEBU, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has ordered three village officials of Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu to answer the complaint filed by wholesale fish buyers over the “illegal” increase of fish tariffs and the non-issuance of official receipts for their payments.
This after the anti-graft investigator found “enough basis to proceed with the criminal and administrative investigation” of the said complaint.
Ombudsman-Visayas Preliminary Investigation Administrative Adjudication and Prosecution Bureau Director Jane Aguilar has ordered Bakhawan Barangay Captain Raiza Luche and two others to file their counter-affidavits and other pieces of controverting evidence.
Aside from Luche, also named respondents are Barangay Treasurer Florentina Dilao and Barangay Collector Rosalia Carma.
The case stemmed from the complaints filed by Fe dela Peña, Concepcion Piedad, Amelia Neri, Elena Lariosa and Annabel Neri, all residents of Barangay Bakhawan and wholesale fish buyers who delivered fishes in different public markets, including Carbon Public Market in Cebu City.
Complainants claimed that they have been paying to the barangay P0.60 per pail of fish purchased and P2.50 for each box equivalent to five pails.
When Luche assumed office after the May 2018 barangay elections, she reportedly increased the fees to P1 per pail of fish and P5 for each box in the absence of an ordinance as basis.
This prompted the wholesale fish buyers to raise the matter to Luche sometime in February this year.
In a meeting, the barangay secretary reportedly told Luche that no recent ordinance or resolution was passed to increase the fees.
They found out that the existing Barangay Revised Revenue Code of 2011 provides that per 50 kilos of fish and “bangkats,” the fee is P2.75; per can of 25 kilos of bagoong is P5.50; excess per kilo is P0.50 and P0.60 per pail.
The complainants further observed an anomaly in the process of their collection and in the recording of the collection when the barangay only issued improvised receipts.
Dilao reportedly reasoned out that issuance of official receipts is “costly.”
The complainants also said the amount appeared in the official receipt is lump sum under one name of a person for “donation.”
“When we sought for clarification, we were not provided with sufficient explanation. Thus, the wholesale fish buyers in the barangay came together to demand accountability from the barangay captain, barangay collector and the barangay treasurer,” read the affidavit complaint.— Banat News Copy Editor/KBQ (FREEMAN)