Local official exposes anomalies in Albay town

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DARAGA, Albay: While many senior citizens prefer the quiet life, Pompeyo Napay is hugging the spotlight for exposing the ills of the municipality.

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The latest targets of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) secretary are the mayor, vice mayor and other “financial terrorists” who have allegedly collected fees from market vendors amounting to millions of pesos since 2000.

Fighting graft and corruption is not an easy job and Napay admits that he is working against all odds.

But many see him as a righteous man fighting for what he believes in.

At first glance, you would not think that Daraga is the site of various anomalies.

Tourists frequent the area for the Cagsawa Ruins, an 18th-century Franciscan church that was destroyed with the eruption of Mayon volcano in 1814.

Only the belfry can be seen today when Cagsawa Church was buried by lahar. The unstoppable lava flow killed 1,200 people in Cagsawa town, including hundreds of residents who sought refuge in the church.

Daraga is also the site of the famous Bicol University (where Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner-Up Venus Raj graduated from) and the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (formerly Albay Provincial Hospital), one of the largest government hospitals in the Bicol region.

Unfortunately, the province’s good image has been tainted by questionable practices.

As the bearer of good and bad news in town, Napay wonders why President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s “Tuwid na Daan” good governance program has not stopped graft and corruption even in the lowest level of the barangay.

He is seriously considering filing cases against the town’s SB members headed by Vice Mayor Carlito Baylon for not holding sessions for over four months now.

On March 21, 2014, Napay wrote to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima asking why Mayor Gerry Jaucian gave the SB the authority to collect rentaland other fees from market vendors that amount today to millions of pesos. He called the practice unconstitutional, illegal and immoral.

Napay said he has also asked the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the many scandals at Daraga town.

Napay said the town usually gets its revenues from transient vendors during fiesta celebrations.

In a five-page letter to de Lima titled “An urgent appeal to conduct investigation in the unabated corruption occasioned by putting up stalls and tiangges,” Napay said that for several decades, Daraga mayors would normally asked SB to pass an ordinance for the temporary closure of certain streets to accommodate transient vendors during town celebrations from September 7 to 8.

The SB would then authorize the collection of certain fees and rentals from vendors. This is turned over to the municipal treasurer who issues official receipts to ensure that the money goes to the town coffers.

Recently, however, Napay said the municipal treasurer was removed from the picture. He no longer handles collections under Executive Order (EO) No. 12 series of 2013, which amended certain provisions of EO No. 11 series of 2013 that created the Daraga Fiesta Executive Committee.

Under EO 12, dated August 22, 2013, the mayor gave this task to the above committee that is composed of SB members, the vice mayor, the police chief, and the town tourism association.

The people above were also empowered to solicit financial assistance from other agencies, including carnival operators.

On September 9, 2013, the Daraga Tourism Council president resigned as a member of the fiesta committee, saying he was never aware of his designation, had never attended any committee meetings, and his inclusion as a member of that committee without his knowledge was unconstitutional, immoral and an insult to human decency.

Jocelyn Andes, one of the vendor group leaders, told the local media that she collected P500,000 and entrusted the money to Councilors Mark Magalona and Cris Dalaguit who never gave her a receipt.

Napay said some P18,000 and P20,000 in rentals were also collected during last year’s fiesta celebration and this was received by Daraga officials.

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