Accusations and counteraccusations flew fast and thick Monday between former political allies turned bitter rivals Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso as each held a press conference to denounce the other and defend himself.
Lim called Domagoso a drama king and urged him to stop the lies and politicking while the latter accused him of sending threatening text messages to his wife.
Even Chief Insp. Ed Morata—the head of the Blumentritt police community precinct whose members arrested Domagoso and four councilors for illegal gambling—joined the fray.
In an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990 AM, Morata claimed that former President Joseph Estrada, Domagoso’s running mate under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), bullied him at the city prosecutor’s office.
The continuing word war stemmed from the arrest of Domagoso, Councilors Joel Chua, Ma. Asuncion “Re” Fugoso, Ernesto “Jong” Isip Jr. and Yul Servo Nieto and former councilor Manuel Zarcal over a bingo game they sponsored on Saturday on Tambunting Street in the Sta. Cruz area on Saturday. The five are among UNA’s candidates for city councilors.
Domagoso, who was accused of daring Morata and Manila Police District Station 3 commander Supt. Ricardo Layug to arrest him, cried harassment and claimed that the policemen were Lim’s lapdogs. He maintained that bingo was not a form of illegal gambling as he revealed that following his arrest, his wife has been receiving threatening text messages from an anonymous sender.
At the same time, he said his group would file in the Office of Ombudsman criminal charges of abuse of authority and assault on a person of authority against the police officials who took them into custody.
Asserting that his group was arrested illegally and forcibly, Domogoso said these policemen would also be charged administratively in the National Police Commission.
“Out of 200 people, only six of us were arrested and their accusation was [a violation] of Presidential Decree 1602 (antiillegal gambling law). But they thought of the charges only nine and a half hours after our arrest,” he told reporters.
But in the same breath, Domagoso said his group was exercising care in preparing the cases to be filed.
“We don’t want to just go and accuse people, especially those who couldn’t do anything because they were being pressured,” he added.
He also denied Morata’s acusation that Estrada harassed him at the inquest proceedings.
According to Morata, Estrada repeatedly bumped him and then, as he was being interviewed by Inquest Division Chief Elaine Yarra-Cerezo, told him: “If you don’t tell the truth, you’ll be on your way out in just three months after I become mayor.”
To which Lim quipped: “Why, Is he going to win?” Both he and Estrada are contesting the mayor’s post in the May elections.
At the same time, Lim commended the police for doing their job and said he would provide them with lawyers.
“I’m not supposed to get involved in this but they keep on bringing up my name so I will intervene. I will support the police because they are only doing their job,” Lim added.
He went on to issue a challenge to Domagoso and the councilors: “Since you want my post, I will resign if you can prove that I ordered your arrest. But if you can’t prove it, then you should resign. I challenge you since you are fond of gambling anyway.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Monday defended its personnel who arrested Domagoso and company.
Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesperson, said there should be a “presumption of regularity” in the actions of the police team.
“Unless proven that it was really politically motivated, what the policemen did was part of their duty as law enforcers,” he told reporters at Camp Crame.
Asked if Domagoso and his supporters broke the law in holding the bingo game, he said: “Let’s leave it up to the court to determine that. A case has been filed anyway.”