Rama orders investigation of MOD officials over extortion

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital | November 30,2021 - 12:23 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama ordered an investigation of the Market Operations Division after an administrative aide was caught in an entrapment operation for alleged extortion on Carbon Market vendors.

Rama said this is why he appointed Lawyer Homer Cabral as the new ‘resident ombudsman’ of the city so he  could investigate any anomalous activity within the City Hall.

“That is why there is an ombudsman in the City Hall… I have to evaluate what was the role of the head. But without even doing that, Racquel Arce is already in Carbon. She has taken control as an overseer,” he said.

The Carbon-hanong Alyansa (Carbon Alliance) has written to Mayor Rama to investigate the officials inside MOD considering the possibility that the extortion of Carbon Market vendors may have been systemic.

“Carbon-hanong Alyansa is asking assigned government agencies to include Irvin Caballes, the current Market Operations Division (MOD) Administrator, in the ongoing investigation of Kara Mae Bargamento who was recently arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for allegedly extorting P100,000 from an unnamed Carbon vendor or vendors,” they said in a letter.

They noted that the Certificate confiscated from Bargamento bears the signature of current Market Operations Division (MOD) Administrator Irvin Caballes.

Moreover, since Bargamento’s arrest, Irvin Caballes has not been seen in public, not even during the internment of the late former Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella last Friday, November 26, 2021.

READ: Administrative aide in charge of Cebu City Market Operation Division arrested

“It has come to our knowledge that the amount of P100,000 was required so a vendor could secure a Certificate of Recognition/Award, the document that will authenticate somebody’s status as vendor and will guarantee her/him a stall in the Interim Market or Unit 2 of Carbon,” said the group.

With this, they are asking Rama that he temporarily suspend Cabales from service pending investigation through a preventive suspension.

They are also asking that the distribution of Certificates of Award or Recognition will be a requirement or guarantee for vendors to get a stall in the projected new Carbon.

“It is our fervent hope that the mastermind or masterminds of corrupt activities in Carbon will be identified and arrested. It is our firm belief that Kara Mae Bargamento cannot muster the courage and daring to extort such big amounts without her being backstopped by heavyweights,” said the group.

In the part of the mayor, he said he will not immediately suspend Cabales over the allegations and will wait for the results of the investigation.

He will look into the complaints first before deciding over the preventive suspension. Still, he assured the public that the extortion issue in the Carbon Market will be thoroughly probed and any illegal practices stopped and apprehended.

In previous statements, Cabales said the case of Bargamento is already in court and he will allow the judicial system to do its duty. /bmjo

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TAGS: Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Lawyer Homer Cabral, Market Operations Division, resident ombudsman

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