Ermita employees told to cease fees collection or face arrest
Barangay Ermita employees caught collecting “voluntary” contributions from Carbon Market vendors will have to risk arrest.
Francisco Fernandez, executive assistant for Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, said City Hall is also studying the possibility of filing robbery charges against barangay officials and employees behind the collection of vendors’ contributions.
Fernandez issued the warning on Monday following a meeting with market authorities and city and private lawyers.
Among those present during their meeting were Councilor Dave Tumulak, City Markets Administrator Winefredo Orcullo, Markets Operations Head Winefredo Miro, City Treasurer Tessie Camarillo and city and private lawyers.
Before the meeting ended, the group asked Tumulak, the deputy mayor on police matters, to direct personnel of the Carbon Police Station to arrest Ermita collectors who will continue to defy the city’s directive against their unauthorized cash collections.
Fernandez said City Hall lawyers share the opinion that the mandatory collection of the P10 donation from market vendors is illegal because this was supposed to be voluntary in nature.
Tickets that the barangay issues to vendors cannot also be considered official receipts because these do not contain the names and signatures of the payees.
Fernandez said that as a general rule, only bonded government personnel are authorized to make cash collections and not just any barangay employee.
“In effect, this collection (that) they’re doing is robbery. We will file a case of robbery against the barangay officials who ordered to do this, plus the collectors that implemented this order,” he told reporters.
He said barangay personnel collect vendors’ contribution and would later on issue a receipt that they will submit to the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO).
Fernandez said that this kind of setup is questionable because there is no way for CTO to verify if barangay personnel made a proper declaration of their actual collection.
City lawyers also share the opinion that the barangay also lacks the authority to demolish or clear out ambulant vendors, a task that can only be performed by the City Markets Authority under the city’s Market Code.
“We are (now) preparing the documents for the case. We already have the affidavits of the vendors and we have gathered the receipts submitted by the (barangay) collectors to the city treasurer,” Fernandez said.
However, Fernandez said, he will try to convince Mayor Osmeña to forgo plans of filing a court case against Ermita officials if they would agree to already stop their unauthorized collection.
But Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta is unfazed.
Rupinta said that they will continue collection of the P10 voluntary contribution, which is a major source of their revenue that they use especially to pay their employees’ salaries.
He said that their barangay only earns P10,000 to P11,000 per day, an indication that not all of the more than 4, 000 market vendors pay the contribution.
“Amo nang i-question kung ila ming dakpon. Dako sad na nga pangutana unsay basis nila sa pagdakop? Naa ba silay document ana (We will question the arrest. We will raise a question as to what is their basis for enforcing the arrest? Do they have a document as basis)?” he said in a phone interview.
Rupinta insisted that their collection is legal because the tickets that they issue to the vendors are authorized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The barangay has a total of eight collectors.
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