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Cebu News

Council tackles extortion complaint

Jessa Agua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Even if the complainant had backed out, the City Council still decided to tackle the extortion complaint against South Road Properties (SRP) Management Office head Roberto "Bu" Varquez in relation to the carnival operations at the "Kasadya sa SRP."

The Council found out that a huge amount of money entered the city market administration office, but the same was not received properly and documented by the city treasurer's office.

For example, a certain Arthur Noel brought P200,000 cash to the city market office, which was reportedly received by employee there but photocopies of the receipt purportedly issued by the office are different from the official ones.

The money was intended as reservation fee for the "Kasadya sa SRP."

"This is a kind of receipt that you can find anywhere else. How come this is not the CTO receipt?" Councilor Margarita Osmeña asked.

City Market Administrator Raquel Arce explained that the supposed receipt is only an acknowledgement and that it has been forwarded to the SRP Management Office.

Varquez who has since denied the allegation, said he received a call from his office staff when the money was turned over to them from the market office. He then advised his staff that the money be returned to Lecian, stressing that they do not have a policy on accepting reservation fees.

"I was out of town when my staff Maricar Guttierez called me to inform about the money. I told my staff to return the money to Lecian because we do not have such policy of having reservation. It was received by Lecian part-owner Henda Unabia," Varquez said.

He added that the complainant whom he stressed as a broker and not a carnival operator, reportedly wanted to operate exclusively at the site where the Pedro Calungsod templete stands. The site is not part of the Sugbo open grounds.

Despite Varquez' earlier denial, however, information about the money not passing through CTO prompted the Council to look into the allegations.

"Do you accept P200,000? Why do you accept it and did not know what was it for and not give it to city treasury?" Osmeña said.

Lecian Carnival is one of the three carnival operators in the recently-opened Kasadya sa SRP which lasts until February 24, the city charter day celebration.

Arthur is the brother of Leonardo. —  /JMO (FREEMAN)

ARTHUR NOEL CITY CITY COUNCIL CITY MARKET ADMINISTRATOR RAQUEL ARCE KASADYA LECIAN MANAGEMENT OFFICE OFFICE VARQUEZ
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