The controversial Tagbilaran City barangay councilor whose name has been dragged into the anomalous collection of rent from vendors along a city-owned lot in Pook Pantalan failed, for the third time, to show up at the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s (SP) probe into the case on Wednesday.
Barangay Cogon Councilor Edwin Lomotos has already skipped two previous sessions set by city councilors to investigate his failure to remit almost four years worth of rent from the vendors to the Tagbilaran City Treasurer’s Office.
According to city lawmakers, Lomotos did not submit a statement explaining his absence from the inquiry which seeks to shed light on the collection process for vendors in Pook Pantalan.
Although no official amount of the missing rent payments has been bared, lawmakers have roughly estimated it to already be in the multi-million-peso range.
In its initial inquiry earlier this month, the SP had already found out that none of the rent and electricity payment paid by the vendors allegedly to Lomotos have reached the city government’s coffers since they started to up stalls along said lot in 2013.
Based on information gathered by the SP today, the stall owners conducting business along Pook Pantalan including delicacy and food vendors and fastcraft ticketing centers have been paying P5,000 to P20,000 as rent depending on the size of their stores.
However, vendors who attended the investigation told councilors that they have no receipts for their rent payments or any other proof of having paid their dues.
Meanwhile, other stall owners aired their appeal to have their businesses reopened as these were shut down by Mayor John Geesnell Yap due to the ongoing probe of the SP and his office.
Rosalie Buenavista, a calamay vendor, told media that they were not properly informed of the mayor’s order to close down the area.
They were not given ample time to prepare, she said noting that some of them currently do not have any source of income.
Councilor Agustinus Gonzaga during the initial inquiry had already expressed concern over the closure order particularly as the vendors were not allotted relocation areas for their businesses.
According to Gonzaga, the investigations could continue even without shutting down the stalls.
For his part, Tagbilaran City Administrator Leonides Borja said that the stores will likely be reopened in December pending the progress of the investigations. (Allen Doydora)