Messy year for the city council

IT WAS quite a messy year for the city council that culminated in the announcement of Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte that he was resigning from his post.

VICE mayor Paolo Duterte

VICE mayor Paolo Duterte

In a statement released on Christmas Day, Duterte said he was resigning out of “delicadeza… (due to) recent unfortunate events in my life that are closely tied to my failed first marriage.”

“These, among others, include the maligning of my reputation in the recent name dropping incident in the Bureau of Customs smuggling case and the very public squabble with my daughter. The other person in this failed relationship is incorrigible and cannot be controlled And I take responsibility for all that has happened as a result of a wrong decision to marry at a very young age,” Duterte said.

Among the publicized incidents involving the vice mayor was his quarrel with daughter Isabelle as they swapped curses and accusations on social media. He even called his daughter a “disgrace” to the family as his response to Isabelle’s tweets that lambasted him for allegedly laying a hand on someone.

ANOTHER CONTROVERSY

The names of Duterte and his brother-in-law, lawyear Manases Carpio, were dragged into the controversy involving the P6.4 billion shabu shipment last May that was eventually seized by authorities. Mark Taguba, a broker of the shipment, claimed he received grease money from the shadowy Davao group.

Both Duterte and Carpio, husband of Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, denied any involvement in the controversy as Taguba also denied implicating them in it.

As the issue became a hot topic, members of the Senate decided to look into it as it also involved officials of the Bureau of Customs. In his testimony before the body on September 1, Taguba said he “never testified” that the two were involved in the illegal entry of 604 kilos of shabu in Manila.

However, an opposition senator, Antonio Trillanes IV, during the Senate investigation, also made a claim that Duterte was a member of the so-called Chinese Triad, a group allegedly involved in smuggling of illegal drugs. Trillanes, a known critic of Duterte family, particularly President Rodrigo Duterte, even dared the vice mayor to show his tattoo on his back, but the latter laughed off the challenge and said he would not dignify the accusation, although he said he is ready to show his tattoo at a proper forum.

COUNCILORS huddle as they unanimously approve the ordinance on the bulk water supply of Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc. BING GONZALES

COUNCILORS huddle as they unanimously approve the ordinance on the bulk water supply of Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc. BING GONZALES

On Wednesday, the vice mayor and Carpio also filed damages against Trillanes for dragging their names into the controversy.

ANOTHER PERSONALITY

Also dragged into the smuggling issue in the BoC was City Councilor Nilo Abellera as he was tagged as among the members of the “Davao Group.”

Abellera, in an affidavit, denied the allegation as he claimed the group never existed.

After appearing before the Senate inquiry, Abellera has been absent from the city council, prompting the councilors on September 26 to oust him from all the committees he was part of. Abellera lost his chairmanship of the peace and public safety to fellow First District councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta as he was also stripped of his positions in the committees on public works, barangay affairs, finance, games and amusement, and tourism and beautification.

LANDMARK ORDINANCES

However, the city council was not all controversies as it has also passed several landmark ordinances, among them the one that allows the use of land for the water treatment facility to be built by the Apo Agua Infrastructure Incorporated in Barangay Gumalang, Baguio District.

Proponents of the Tamugan Bulk Water Project, the consortium that formed the Apo Agua Infrastructura, have identified the project as eventually the main source of potable water for the entire city as it will provide water for areas which at present could hardly access it from the main provider, the Davao City Water District.

The passage of the ordinance was in response to the call of Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in her state of the city address on September 13 asking the councilors to prioritize its passage so that the proponents could start the P10-billin project.

The city councilors also amended the Davao City Revenue Code in their effort to “enhance, ensure financial stability, and resiliency on the collection performance of the city.”

The councilors on October 10 approved the amendments to the 12-year old ordinance in their efforts to plug the loopholes in the revenue generation of the city.

Section 191 of the Local Government Code allows local government to adjust their tax rates for at lest five years and that adjustments must not go beyond 10% of the present rates.

The city council also decided to limit human interaction in revenue processing as it passed an ordinance that will allow taxpayers to pay their tax obligations online. Approved on August 22, the ordinance allows taxpayers to settle their obligations online using a facility of government-run Land Bank of the Philippines, although the City Treasurer’s Office will still issue the official receipts.

Based on the ordinance, the office of the City Treasurer is authorized to recognize and accept payments made electronically, online, or with the authorized banks or non-banks as an alternative to the traditional over-the-counter payment at the city cashiers.

On security, the Anti-unattended Bag Ordinance is part of an elaborate effort of the city government to prevent terrorist acts after an explosion at the Roxas night market on September 2, 2016 left 15 dead and 69 others injured. The city councilors are still deliberating the other part, the proposal to penalize those who will be found recruiting for terrorist organizations.

FIGHTING OBSOLESCENSE

Aside from passing needed measures to enhance revenue and security, the city councilors also decided to repeal to ordinances for their being outdated.

One of these local laws was the 67-year old law which bans the use, playing, operation and maintenance of pinball machines and other similar devices. The other one, younger by 15 years than the other, was the one that bans the operations of jukeboxes within the city public markets.

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