BMO staff fired for alleged ‘extortion’

By Inna Gian Mejia January 12,2018

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña fired outright a member of the Barangay Mayor’s Office (BMO) in Barangay Apas after learning that he asked some business owners to sponsor their contingents for the Sinulog Grand Parade, using the name and seal of the city government.

“I’ve heard what you heard but basically, I have not authorized BMO to solicit. Anyone soliciting using the seal of the city, asking for business permit, to me is automatically fired,” Osmeña said.

The mayor is now getting details and specifics of the incident and determining the identities of other BMO staff involved.

During his press conference yesterday, he said Renato Jardaleza, a liaison officer and staff of BMO, is “fired until he proves his innocence.” He said the other BMO staff involved will also be fired immediately once he gets confirmation.

Earlier, Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman uploaded on his Facebook account a copy of the solicitation letter signed by two BMO personnel, namely Rey Suelto and Ma. Teresa Verzosa.

He questioned the BMO’s authority to solicit funds as he also clarified that Barangay Apas had nothing to do with raising funds for the contingents.

In the letter, which bears the seal of the City Government, the BMO personnel asked for amounts ranging from P100,000 up to P1 million to sponsor their contingent for the Sinulog sa Barangay.

This sparked complaints from business owners after the solicitors questioned them if they had the business permits from the city, which they viewed as a veiled threat.

Osmeña said incidents like this give all the BMOs a bad reputation.

He warned that if it appears that the contingents are funded solely by extortion, he will stop the contingents from performing. He also raised the possibility of disbanding the entire BMO in Barangay Apas.

“Let this serve as a warning to everybody. If it is found that this is widespread, I will stop the contingents from performing,” he said.

Osmeña said he does not want to tolerate any kind of extortion under his administration whether direct or indirect.

The BMO was created to help the Mayor’s Office and not smear the City Hall’s reputation, he said.

“I have a religion here in City Hall, I have one commandment. Don’t get caught. Mao gyud na,” he said.

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