UPSET over the flagrant violation by a handful of Caloocan barangay officials of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the law on illegal gambling and the desecration of the Holy Week and the tombs of Manilans at the Manila North Cemetery, Mayor Isko Moreno embarked on an unprecented shame campaign by hunting down the suspects who held an illegal cockfighting right inside the cemetery over the weekend.
Moreno went around Barangay 129 in Caloocan City and publicly shamed the said barangay officials when, using a public address system, his vehicle went around and appealed to the residents to tell their chairman to surface and explain to Manilans why he led an illegal cockfighting right inside the Manila North Cemetery where they and their spectators and bettors stepped right on the tombs to get a better view of the cockfight.
They were identified by Special Mayor's Reaction Team (SMaRT) team headed by Maj. Jhun Ibay as chairman Brix John Rolly L. Reyes; his barangay kagawads Alfie Lacson; Romualdo Reyes alias ‘Udong and John Cris Domingo alias ‘Tenga’ and a certain ‘Cabron’ of Barangay 131 who reportedly served as the operator and one ‘Mac-Mac’ also of Barangay 129.
They were able to elude arrest when Ibay’s team, along with members of the Blumentritt Police Community Precinct (PCP) and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the Manila Police District, stormed the site, 29th Street, after seeing the illegal activity posted on social media. Nabbed were cockfighters Christopher Fernandez, 43 and Ronnie Ignacio, 31, both residents in the cemetery compound in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
After proper coordination was made with Caloocan Mayor Oca Malapitan at around 11 a.m., Moreno said he proceeded to Barangay 129 at around 3 p.m. to personally appeal to the residents to help him track down Chairman Reyes and his barangay kagawads, saying they owe Manilans an explanation why they bastardized the tombs of residents buried there and had to engage in an illegal gambling activity in Manila and right inside the cemetery.
Moreno lauded Malapitan for not tolerating the said barangay officials and even ordering them to surrender and answer for their deeds.
Ibay, who was with Moreno in Caloocan, said the mayor’s move apparently gained the approval of the residents who cheered on and took photos of him and even professed their support and love for him as he went around the said barangay. From time to time, Ibay said Moreno would remind the residents of the ECQ and the required social distancing.
At around 9 p.m., Moreno said Malapitan had the chairman, Lacson and Domingo as well as Cabron, brought to his office at City Hall, with a directive for them to apologize and explain what they have done.
For his part, Moreno expressed his dismay that the said barangay officials did not respect their position, the Holy Week , the cemetery, the dead and their families, not to mention that they violated the ECQ and several laws.
Moreno said he had to go after the said barangay officials in order to serve a lesson that in Manila, you cannot violate laws and just get away with it, even as he expressed gratitude to Mayor Malapitan for his understanding and support.
In his public appeal as his vehicle went around the concerned barangay, Moreno branded the suspects as ‘mga hangal ng bayan’ and said he wanted their constituents to know the kind of barangay officials that they have. He expressed belief though, that other barangay officials in Caloocan are upright.
Moreno ordered Ibay to file against the said barangay officials charges for violation of Presidential Decree 1602 (Illegal Cockfighting), Republic Act 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act), Republic Act 11332 (Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Event of Public Health Concern Act) and Article 151of the Revised Penal Code (Resistance and Disobedience to a Person in Authority or the Agent of such Person) in relation to Proclamation No. 922 series of 2020 (Declaring the State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines).
Meanwhile, Caloocan city barangay officials involved in illegal cockfighting activities surrendered to City Mayor Oscar “Oca” Malapitan on Saturday afternoon following the call from Moreno to turn themselves in within 48 hours.
Mayor Oca earlier also issued a warning to the city barangay officials of Barangay 129 that he will be forced to launched an extensive manhunt operation against them if they fail to surrender to the proper authorities.
An hour after Malapitan issued a stern warning, he received a call from Chairman Brix John Rolly Reyes saying his intention, along with barangay councilmen Romualdo Reyes and John Cris Domingo, to surrender to the city chief executive.
The three barangay officials of Bgy. 129 were escorted by policemen, led by Lt. Col. Ilustre Mendoza, deputy chief for administration, to the Caloocan city hall where they met Mayor Oca before they were turned over by city chief of police P/Col. Dario Menor to the Manila Police District (MPD).
Mayor Oca said he already ordered the preventive suspension of the three barangay officials pending the filing of administrative cases against them before the Office of the Ombudsman.
However, he said due process will be observed to allow the involved barangay officials to explain their side.
"Hindi palalagpasin ng inyong lokal na pamahalaan ang sinuman sa mga opisyal na napatunayang lumabag sa batas lalong lalo na kung siya ay may sinumpaang tungkuling maging tapat sa taong bayan lalong lalo na sa oras ng kagipitan o sakuna,” Mayor Oca said.
With Edd Reyes