The requests of Bacolod City Councilor Carlos Lopez to the Traffic Management Unit to exempt 394 trucks owned by 30 firms from the truck ban is drawing a controversy with Mayor Monico Puentevella questioning the move.
“It is up to the public to judge because I don’t want to put down anybody especially a councilor”, Puentevella said when asked if Lopez had overstepped his authority.
“He (Lopez) should be asked if it was indeed him who sent the letters (to the TMU) and why did he did so”, Puentevella added.
Lopez is out of the country and is unavailable to answer Puentevella’s new tirade against him although he is expected to issue a statement on the matter next week.
Outgoing TMU chief, Senior Insp. Benedicto Villarias approved the exemptions in October, and had asked Bacolod Vice Mayor Mayor Greg Gasataya, as well as the members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod on October 16 for concurrence.
Villarias also attached the letters of Lopez in his request for concurrence but Gasataya told him, in a letter dated November 15, 2013, that the SP has no vested authority or power to concur on the truck ban exemptions.
Gasataya said the truck ban is a city ordinance and the implementing agency for the observance of SP approved ordinances falls under the City Mayor’s Office through the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office.
As this developed, Puentevella announced yesterday that he has replaced Villarias with Insp. Roger Ong although he denied that the sudden change of leadership at the TMU has something to do with the controversy.
He said that he will give Villarias a different post in January because he received good feedback from people about the improvements in the traffic situation of the city.
Puentevella also said he did not authorize anyone to reproduce or distribute truck ban stickers with his picture. He said the SP is already investigating the reports.*APN