Rama’s promise to Carbon vendors: I will fix problems caused by extortion scandal
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The need to identify individuals who extorted vendors at the Carbon Public Market is just the first step in addressing the problem.
Mayor Michael Rama said he also needs to find means to fix the problem and win back the trust and confidence of vendors on market authorities and the city government in general.
The National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) earlier arrested a market aide accused of extorting P100, 000 from a vendor.
Kara Marie Bargamento, an Administrative Aide III of the Market Operations Division (MOD) assigned at the Carbon Freedom Park Market, was arrested on November 24 by undercover agents for receiving marked money from a complainant vendor.
Bargamento’s arrest led some of the vendors to question the validity of certificates that were issued assuring them of a spot in the interim market in Unit II.
Reports reaching the office of the mayor said that at least 50 vendors paid P100, 000 for the issuance of a certification from MOD.
Wanting to get to the bottom of this, Rama has ordered the City Legal Office (CLO) the his resident Ombudsman to conduct an investigation parallel to the ongoing investigation by NBI-7.
Raquel Arce, whom Rama appointed at the marker overseer, said in an earlier interview that she now has the names of individuals involved in extortion practices at the public market and will be forwarding these to the CLO.
“There will always be apprehension, that is understandable. But we will work on it next week. We will take that as a concern,” Rama said in an interview with CDN Digital.
Rama said he is also studying a proposal which he received from the vendors on how else to increase market revenues.
Carbon vendors presented an alternative market development plan to the City Council that will only cost P800 million. This will cover the development of Freedom Park, Warwick Barrack and Carbon Market Units I, II, and III and address the concern on ambulant vendors.
Accountant and lawyer Floro Montenegro also presented to the City Council last December 7 his report citing “deficiencies” in P3.7 billion in revenues that the city is expected to earn from stall rentals in the next 50 years under the modernization program proposed by Megawide.
Montenegro said this is very small compared to the P69 billion in revenues that the development firm is expected to earn during the same period.
He said this puts the city in a “massive disadvantage” especially since the loan that Megawide availed of to fund the modernization project was granted by the bank knowing that the city government is a party to the join venture agreement (JVA) with the development firm.
In comparison, Montenegro said, the proposal submitted by the vendors will only cost P800 million and will make the city earn revenues of P5.2 to P18 billion in the next 50 years.
Still, the city’s existing JVA with Megawide is a major consideration because it would already be difficult for the city government to rescind the existing contact, Rama said.
But he promised to note all concerns raised and consider these in the supplemental memorandum of agreement (MOA) that the city is preparing in compliance with the JVA.
“It has to go through due process. This is a contract approved by the council. You know, we should be thankful to Megawide because of the project. That is why there should be curative measures, our position was very clear. We just want enhancement, refinement,” he said.
Rama said he will continue to meet with leaders of the different vendors groups to hear their concerns. / dcb
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