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Dumaguete City, Philippines Friday, October 21, 2016
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SP investigates heavy
equipment controversy

Two city engineers yesterday told the Dumaguete Sangguniang Panlungsod that they were ordered to bring the two controversial heavy equipment to the city quadrangle on verbal orders of a former vice mayor, who lost in the May elections.

Engineers Antonio Flores and Edwin Quirit were grilled by members of the SP to find out the status of the heavy equipment that were displayed at the City Hall quadrangle for more than one month during the campaign period for reasons that they are unserviceable and subject for auction.

Flores admitted he was directed verbally by then vice mayor Woodrow Maquiling Sr., through a phone call, to bring the Shantui bulldozer and the vibratory road roller to the city quadrangle without asking questions, in saying he was just following orders, informed Quirit, and so they were towed by two other heavy equipment on March 29, 2016.

Flores said the repair of the Shantui bulldozer would cost almost P2 million. Both Quirit and Flores stood pat on their statements that only the former vice mayor made the verbal order without implicating anybody. Since it was a verbal order, they could not show proof.

But Councilor Joe Kenneth Arbas has doubts on their participation because they knew that the heavy equipment were used as a political tool against the sitting mayor on the issue of graft and corruption. Three weeks after the election, the equipment were brought back to the city motorpool.

It will be recalled that the equipment were acquired during the first term of mayor Felipe Remollo in 2000 and became an election issue in 2001 that caused his defeat. After 15 years, it was resurrected, even if the heavy equipment had been used for projects in the city for more than 10 years. This time, Remollo won as mayor.

Councilor Alan Gel Cordova lamented on why the two employees did not bother to question what he described as an invalid order.

He cited provisions of the Civil Service rules that the vice mayor does not have any power or authority to command employees who are under the command of the executive department. Despite the invalid order, they complied with the unwritten directive because they were trapped and caught in a political bind, in case Maquiling wins.

C ouncilor Eslao Alviola enjoined all City Hall departments not to allow their offices to be used and taken advantage of by politicians for political and personal interests.

Mayor Remollo said this is lesson learned and that he is more interested on the actuations of City Hall employees rather than pursue the mastermind or bring the matter to court.

He said every employee should learn to say no to invalid orders, or to directives that are beyond their authority to do.

He said he welcomes the investigation conducted by the SP to prevent a similar situation in the future because if it was not given light, it will remain a vicious cycle; there should be a stop to it and to move forward. For those who allowed to be used, it's their own lookout, Remollo added.*JG


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