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Graft complaint filed vs acting mayor, vice mayor for Boracay pontoon fee collection

ILOILO CITY—Officials of Malay town in Aklan are facing a graft complaint for the alleged illegal collection of fees for the use of a makeshift port on Boracay Island.

In a seven-page complaint affidavit filed at the Ombudsman Visayas Iloilo field office on Monday (Jan 13), Boracay-based journalist Noel Cabobos accused acting Malay Mayor Frolibar Bautista and acting Vice Mayor Niño Carlos Cawaling of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Local Government Code.

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Also named respondents were municipal councilors Dalidig Sumndad, Lloyd Maming, Danilo Delos Santos, Maylynn Graf, Nickie Cahilig, Dante Pagsuguiron and Junthir Flores, Ralf Tolosa and Christine Hope Pagsuguiron.

Bautista did not reply to a text message and call from the INQUIRER as of 4:34 p.m on Tuesday (Jan. 14).

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Cabobos in his complaint said the collection of P30 per user of pontoons along White Beach, the island’s main attraction, was illegal because there is no law or ordinance authorizing the executive department of the municipal government to collect the fee.

He said the collection of the fee for users of pontoons at Station 1, at the northern end of the White Beach, and Station 3, at the southern end, was covered only by Executive Order No. 51 series of 2019 issued by Bautista on Dec. 5, 2019.

Bautista’s order was purportedly to regulate water activities on the popular island-resort. It mandated operators of watersports and seasports activities to use the pontoons.

But the Boracay Water Sports Association Inc. passed a board resolution on Jan. 7 opposing the executive order.

In a letter dated Jan. 9, the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) directed Bautista to stop the collection of the fee.

In the letter, Natividad Bernardino, BIARMG manager, said the interagency management group has not yet approved the proposal of the Malay municipal government to collect the fee.

Bautista and Cawaling are occupying their posts in an acting capacity after the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal from service of Mayor Ciceron Cawaling, the father of the acting vice mayor.

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The Ombudsman had found the elder Cawaling guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming of a public official in relation to his alleged failure to implement national laws and local ordinances protecting the environment and regulating construction activities on Boracay Island.

Edited by TSB
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TAGS: Boracay, Graft, Ombudsman, pontoon
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