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Ayungon mayor defends port gate shutdown

CEBU, Philippines - The mayor of Ayungon in Negros Oriental yesterday defended himself from reports that he allegedly ordered the closure of the town’s port gate without legal basis.

Mayor Edsel Enardecido, in an interview over DYRC, said he ordered the gate closed during a holiday to keep the port free from illegal activities such as suspicious girls and motorcycles boarding the barges.

“Holiday man gud pagka-next week. Di pwede loading sa barge basta holiday kay naay reported illegal, ako gipasira para safety ba,” he said.

The following day, Enardecido said, he ordered trucks to get inside the port as its parking outside reportedly posed traffic hazards.

After that, the gate had long been reopened. In fact, he said it was reopened even before a complaint was filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

Earlier, Pilipinas Logistics and Technological Solutions (PLTSI) managing director Rodien Paca and Pilipinas Eco-Friendly Mining Corporation (PEMC) represented by its president Mark Yu, in their respective complaint, alleged that Enardecido committed grave misconduct and oppression for shutting the port gate.

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PLTSI reportedly has a subsisting contract with PEMC to quarry and haul siliceous materials from the quarry site in Ayungon to the port.

On April 7, Paca claimed he received a text message from PLTSI site manager Elfe Almaro saying that Enardecido ordered the gate of the port padlocked, thus denying entry of their dump trucks.

On the same day, Enardecido also allegedly demanded incentives from Yu through text.

The mayor yesterday confirmed receiving such incentives for the hauling services of KBE Hauling Services which is owned by his son, Keith.

“Unsa may problema ana nga negosyo man ni atoa? Dugay man gud sila mobayad. Akong anak magpatabang sa ako nga mabayaran,” Enardecido said.

He also downplayed claims of conflict of interest since the family business has been operating since the time he was still a vice mayor and has long been turned over to his son when he sat mayor.

Sometime in February, Yu alleged that KBE Hauling utilized a payloader of the municipality of Ayungon in the hauling of siliceous materials.

Enardecido explained that the port is managed by the municipality and there was a government loader in the area being used to put aside stockpiles but he denied using it to load siliceous materials to the barge.

“Katungod sa munisipyo paggamit sa equipment. Normal naay activity sa loader apan pag-loading sa barge di na tinuod,” he said.

Sought for comment yesterday, Yu said they have photos and videos supposedly showing the municipal payloader loading on a private barge.

Yu also said that upon checking, there are no legal documents to prove that the port is owned or managed by the municipality.

“If it’s managed by the municipality, where are the management fees collected? Even the municipal government does not know who manages the port. And I have a lot of text messages coming from the Mayor demanding payment, which has nothing to do with the hauling activities,” Yu said.

Enardecido said he will first consult with his lawyer on his next move. (FREEMAN)

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