ILOILO City – The barangay captains of Rizal Pala-pala I and Rizal Pala-pala II near the Iloilo Terminal Market denied insinuations they have anything to do with the alleged extortion activities at the city’s biggest public market.
“Ang ginahambal na ni Mayor (Jose Espinosa III) nga may mga lamesa ako dira kag nagapanukot, wala ina kamatuoran. Tanan nga vendors dira makahambal,” Barangay Captain Noel Soliman of Rizal Pala-pala II told Panay News.
Espinosa said fish vendors complained to him that they were being forced to cough up P50 for using tables, P10 for the trapal and P15 for the lights at the Iloilo Terminal Market, popularly called “Super.”
“Sin-o ang nagaremedyo sina?” asked Espinosa. He said he would ask the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe.
According to Soliman, he only had two “transient tables” particularly at the fish section because he and his wife were vending fish.
“Gina-welcome ko gid ang imbestigasyon kon amo na ang gusto ni Mayor. Anytime kay wala ko sala mo,” said Soliman.
He and Barangay Captain Alain Rey Depatillo of Rizal Pala-pala I believed this issue is politically motivated.
“Sang una nga ara pa ko sa iya, wala man kita kabati amo na nga sugilanon. Subong lang kay ara na ko kay (Cong. Jerry) Treñas,” said Depatillo.
Treñas is running for mayor against Espinosa this May 13 midterm elections.
Both Soliman and Depatillo admitted having switched political allegiance from Espinosa to Treñas.
According to Soliman, he was disappointed that his wife and children who worked as job hires at city hall were booted out.
“Wala ‘ya man lang ako ginpatawag. Nakibot lang ako nga ginpahalin na sila. Amo na nagsipak ko sa iya bilang leader ‘ya nga nagbulig sa iya sa madugay nga tion,” said Soliman.
According to Espinosa, the NBI may start its probe by making queries with Depatillo and Soliman because their barangays were adjacent to the terminal market.
“Tan-awon ta gid ngaa damo gapanukot da,” he said. “Wala resibo...that is a racket and against the law. I want charges filed if necessary.”
The city government’s Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) which oversees the operation of public markets confirmed the problem.
“May mga grupo or individuals nga nagapanukot sa vendors other than the authorized collectors sang aton opisina. Amo ini gusto ni Mayor ma-imbestigar,” said LEEO chief Ariel Castañeda.
He also clarified that the daily arkabala from vendors that LEEO authorized collectors collect ranged only between P10 to 20.
But if “may ginapasulod pa gid sila nga mga goods, nagapanukot pa gid kita sang entrance fee,” Castañeda added.
From LEEO’s initial check, some 70 market vendors have fallen victim to unauthorized persons collecting fees.
“I am not going to tolerate that. I don’t want nga madalahig ang iban sa pila lang nga gaobra sang anomaliya,” said Espinosa.
He also noted the sprouting of illegal structures just outside the market. He wondered who set them up and who were making money from vendors using these.
“Vendors inside the market have no sales because buyers are being cornered by those vending outside,” said Espinosa.
The market in-charge tried to shoo away the illegal vendors but he was met with resistance, lamented the mayor./PN