Appeal for investigation on ‘donated chickens’ denied by Cebu City council majority
CEBU CITY, Philippines–An appeal for an investigation for the donation of live chickens to Cebu City last May was denied by the majority bloc of the Cebu City council on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
Cebu City Councilor Jessica Resch was looking for the deed of donation and called for an investigation for the near 17,000 live chickens that were donated by a private food company to the city.
In a privilege speech during the regular council onWednesday, Resch said the donated chickens became controversial because it was never revealed to the council, and even Mayor Edgardo Labella claimed to have no knowledge of such donation.
The details of the donation were only known during the privilege speech of Councilor Eduardo Rama, Jr., on June 24, 2020, where he claimed to have facilitated the acceptance of the donations, the dressing of the live chickens in a slaughterhouse that delivered the services for free, and the distribution of the dressed chickens to various barangays (villages) around the city.
Read: Lost chickens found
Resch said that the donor of the chickens has yet to receive the signed deed of donation, two months after the donation was done.
“Where is the Deed of Donation? Why is a donor looking for it? If it has been signed and notarized, can this August Body be furnished a copy thereof?” asked Resch, the president of the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation in Cebu City.
She called for an executive session to provide an avenue to the donors to speak regarding the issue, but the motion was turned down by the council’s majority bloc.
“Worth noting and mentioning is the fact that we only knew about the quantity of the chickens donated through Hon. Eduardo Rama’s June 24, 2020 privilege speech. It was only that time, presumably, that everyone found out about how much exactly was donated to the City – including the fact that a third party offered their services to dress the donated chickens – for free,” said Resch.
The councilor said that this deed of donation should already have been provided to the donors as proof of accountability in the part of the government.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, the majority floor leader and the sponsor for the deed of donation, said the deed has been approved by the council and is still awaiting the signature of Mayor Labella.
He blamed the delay in the bureaucracy, saying that with only a skeletal force, it is expected that resolutions and letters may take time to be signed by the mayor.
The Secretariat also said that the deed of donation is still with Mayor Labella and added that they have done all they could to ensure that the resolution reached the Office of the Mayor as soon as possible.
Councilor Rama, for his part, took offense with the speech of Resch, saying he is being insinuated in aiding the alleged selling of the chickens to the public when he already proved to the council that the chickens were accounted for in affidavits made by the beneficiary barangays.
“Why is this donation being singled out? They also donated to the LNB (Liga ng mga Barangays). We should call on all the barangays in that case,” said Rama.
Rama said that the executive session will only discourage future donors from donating to the city government again.
In response, Resch said that there was a necessity for the city to let the donors know where the chickens went for accountability and transparency.
Only the minority floor supported Resch’s appeal for an executive session to investigate the matter. These were councilors Nestor Archival, Alvin Dizon, Leah Japson, Raul Alcoseba, Franklyn Ong, Joy Augustus Young, and Eugenio Gabuya, Jr..
Councilor Ong, the LNB president, said there was a necessity to open the investigation through an executive session to put to rest the issue that has affected the morale of the barangay chiefs.
Although the appeal of Resch for an executive session was declined by the Cebu City council’s majority, the minority bloc appealed that the council be appraised of the status of this deed of donation.
Councilors Archival said the council must be provided with a copy of the deed of donation once it will be approved.
Dizon also urged the mayor to divulge all donations the city received during the pandemic with or without a deed of donation.
‘Stop Wasting Time’
But Councilor Joel Garganera, who is also the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) czar of the city, said that wallowing in the “already solved issue” of the lost chickens is a waste of time and that the council should discuss how the city should address the COVID-19 situation.
“It is a disservice to the city to give much time over this issue. It is a waste of time,” he said.
He urged his fellow legislators to focus on COVID-19 aid and help transition the city into a new normal instead of discussing donated chickens.
Cebuano high profile Lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, who was among the public who closely watched the city’s chicken saga, said tackling transparency and accountability is far from disservice.
“We’re appalled at the suggestion of some councilors that finding out the truth from the donor is a disservice to the public and a waste of time. Remember this donor has been asking for a copy of the donation, meaning the donor has yet to receive his copy of the alleged deed of donation. Finding out the truth is never a waste of time,” said Ligutan. /bmjo
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