April 25th, 2012
Tribune. Eastern Visayas
By: Marwin A. Astorga
CAIBIRAN, BILIRAN – “Public office is a public trust, government officials must serve the people with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.”
This was the prefaratory statement of five (5) Sangguniang Bayan members namely Hon. Lorna Ferguson, Gerry Colantro, Edwin Pantas, Narices Go and Marilyn Joboco of the municipality of Caibiran Biliran who filed a verified complaint for grave misconduct in office, abuse of authority and willful obstruction in the enforcement of municipal ordinance no. 131 series of 2009 with Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Biliran against vice-mayor Gracia G. Baribe of Caibiran, Biliran March 12, 2012.
The complaint stemmed from the apprehension and arrest of two fishing boat using illegal means of fishing in the coastal waters of barangay Alegria and barangay Tomalistis of Caibiran town sometime in December 12, 2011 wherein complainants alleged that vice-mayor Baribe used her position and power to lessen the number of persons apprehended by persuading the Department of Agriculture officer Mrs. Singanggote thereby violating their municipal ordinance.
Apprehension and Arrest incident
In an affidavit executed by Police Inspector Antonio P. Montaño, Officer-in-charge of Caibiran Police Station which was obtained by TRIBUNE, he categorically admitted that one of the rampant or unsolved illegal activities in the municipality of Caibiran is illegal fishing in the coastal barangays of Alegria, Tomalistis and Asog.
According to him, sometime in December 12, 2011 about 7:30 in the morning, he received a tip from concerned citizen of an illegal fishing activity of two boat using “active gear fishing” between the coastal waters of brgy. Alegria and Tomalistis.
“Upon receiving the text, I immediately composed a seven manned team with the coordination of Mayor Maderazo who provided the motorboat for the operation and proceeded immediately to the scene.” Police Inspector Montaño explained.
The apprehended two fishing boat and successfully arrested more or less 14 stevedonres including its captain on the first boat and 15 stevedores on the second boat of which according to Police Investigator Vic Viros that the owner of the two boat is from Brgy. Alegria of the same town.
“When we were about to go back to the station, we saw another vessel named “IVANA” doing illegal fishing and was also apprehended of which the owner is from Brgy. Bunga, Cabucgayan a neighboring town of Caibiran.” Montaño added.
At about 11:39 AM right after the proper documentation of the apprehension and arrest, Montaño said that the Vice-Mayor Baribe came to her office and informed him that the owner of the two fishing boats from Brgy. Alegria was her relative and directly insisted to lessen the number of persons apprehended from 14 to 3 persons from the first vessel and 15 to 3 persons from the second vessel to lessen the fine to be paid by her relative.
Montaño further told that he refused to do what is being asked by the vice mayor and referred her to the office of the Municipal Agriculture through Mrs. Sinanggote being the lead agency implementing the Ordinance on Illegal Fishing for her request.
Days after, her learned that the number of persons fined per vessel was reduced to six and upon payment of fines with the Treasurer’s Office they could not do anything but to release and discharge all the arrested illegal fishermen.
“I have no knowledge as to what agreement did the vice mayor and the head Department of Agriculture came up with but the act of the vice-mayor resulted to a low morale on my organization. She was seen and made known her intention to prevent illegal fishers was very much unethical and uncalled for as a public servant.” Montaño disclosed.
Pulpit Revelations and Committee Hearing
On December 18, 2011, the municipality of Caibiran was astound by the revelations made by the Parish Priest Fr. Antonio Sevilla in the pulpit alleging that the Sangguniang Bayan of Caibiran are futile in resolving the rampant illegal fishing committed by its townmen.
He further alleges that illegal fishers have been succesful in their illegal activities mainly because of high officials being “protectors” of the latter.
With such revelations in the pulpit, the complaints felt the urge to investigate the matter and called on for a Joint Committee Hearing of the Committee on Agriculture and Committee on Rules sometime in January 23, 2012 inviting all public officials and authorities who have personal knowledge and can adequately help resolve the rampant illegal fishing in the locality.
On January 31, 2012, The Joint Committee Hearing was conducted and was well attended by the Municipal Mayor, officials from the department of Agriculture, the Philippine National Police and concerned barangay officials of the coastal baragangays of Caibiran (while Vice Mayor Baribe failed to attend). (To be continued next issue)
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Tags: caibiran, Edwin Pantas, Gerry Colantro, Hon. Lorna Ferguson, illegal fishing, Marilyn Joboco, Mayor Maderazo, Narices Go, Officials, Police Inspector Montaño, Sangguniang Bayan, Tribune, Vice Mayor Baribe, vice-mayor Gracia G. Baribe
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