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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, September 7, 2013
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word war ensues


A word war between Bacolod City Administrator Rolando Villamor and former City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan has ensued following the apprehension of two personnel assigned to the Office of the Building Official and a civilian caught receiving grease money by National Bureau of Investigation agents.

Bayatan said the irregularities happening in the city right now did not happen during their term and the past administration should not be blamed for it.

Villamor said “We know for a fact that the corruption at the OBO has been existing before we came in.” So he said he was instructed by the Mayor to straighten things out and they have assigned a new head to the OBO.

Bayatan pointed out that it was Mayor Monico Puentevella who assigned Peter Plantillo, one of those apprehended by the NBI during the entrapment operation Wednesday, to the OBO in July.

Because they have revamped several department heads, who were installed by former Mayor Evelio Leonardia, therefore, these things are happening, Bayatan said.

But Villamor said Puentevella was in Manila for a 3-day gathering of the League of Cities of the Philippines, when the apprehension of the OBO personnel happened.

If Bayatan insists that they are clean and that he is “white as snow”, he failed to answer many letter-complaints during his term, Villamor said.

He said he has proof that Bayatan was accused for dereliction of duty for failure to act on several complaints filed with his office.

Villamor cited that UniCity General Merchandise has not paid its business permit and real property taxes from 2011 to 2012 when it is located just across City Hall, and Bayatan failed to address the issue.

Bayatan said Villamor did not provide the media a copy of his letter to the Permits and Licensing Division regarding the matter which is in the same file he distributed to them.

Villamor provided the media during a press conference yesterday copies of the letter sent to the CLO by the lawyers of the Lolita Sy concerning Unicity.

Bayatan said he had inquired with the Permits and Licensing Office regarding the status of the permits of the Unicity and he received a reply that the establishment was still applying for a permit.

He said Villamor did not provide a copy of his letter of the complainant about their dispute over Unicity. This is all about a family dispute and the owners of the building are quarreling as to who will be entitled to collect the rent from Unicity, he added.

Bayatan said the CLO was even provided a copy of the records of their dispute in the Court, which involves the lease of the building being rented by Unicity.

The family members cannot settle among themselves as to whom Unicity will pay its rent. One side of the family complained about the operation of Unicity regarding the absence of a lease contract, he said.

Other than the lease of contract, the operation of Unicity is legitimate. A lease contract is a matter of private concern between Unicity as lessee and the owners a lessor, Bayatan said.

The closure of Unicity was put on hold because of this issue which is trivial. He gave UniCity opportunity to settle the conflict between them and members of the family who owns the building, he said.

Meanwhile, Bayatan pointed out that the Bacolod Baywalk Restaurant and Entertainment Place at the Reclamation Area, which the city is planning to grant a special permit for the MassKara Festival, is occupying the road that belongs to the city and even collects entrance fees.

If the city allows Baywalk to operate, this is what can be considered as irregular, he said.

Villamor said the operators of Baywalk have the title of the property. The Mayor wants to make use of the establishment to make the MassKara Festival joyful and enjoyable for the people.

He said the fees that will be collected by Baywalk will be very reasonable once they will be allowed by the city to operate during the MassKara Festival. They will put up kiosks and the city will collect its share.

If they say Baywalk has no permit, its representatives said they have secured a permit before and this was confirmed by the City Legal Office, Villamor said. But it had a legal problem since claimed to be in one place but was operating in another area. So he told them to correct their permit, he said.

Villamor said the management of Baywalk is happy that they can contribute to the better result of the MassKara Festival and this will give them a chance to show their cooperation to any activities of the city.

He said representatives of Baywalk will meet with him again on Monday concerning its operation for the MassKara Festival.*CGS




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