Cebu City group wants probe on sale of chickens donated by Thailand
CEBU CITY –– A group of residents has requested the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas to investigate the alleged sale of dressed chicken originally donated by a Thai company to the Cebu City government.
The complainants led by Marco Licinio “Bebot” Flores Gingoyon claimed that the chickens were sold to them at P120 apiece last May.
At that time, they did not know that the low-priced chicken were donated to the city.
“Hundreds, if not thousands, of Cebu City residents had fallen victim to this grossly shameless criminal and immoral act that not only robbed them of food that rightfully belonged to them in time of acute want but had also made them pay for what was unjustly taken from them,” read the complaint filed at the anti-graft office on July 22.
“We, poor residents of Sitio Ascension, Barangay Sambag I, were among those hapless victims who had fallen prey to these heartless vultures,” it added.
A copy of the complaint was also sent to the office of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Although the complainants did not identify the persons involved in the sale, they said they were told that the chickens came from a supposed chicken supply business of Cebu City Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr.
“Sometime in May 2020, people in our barangay were told that Cebu City Councilor Edu Rama was into the chicken supply/distribution business and that he wanted to help barangay folks amid COVID-19 pandemic by selling them chicken at a cheap price,” they said.
Since they could hardly go to the market due to strict restrictions by the government to contain the coronavirus, the complainants said they decided to buy the dressed chicken.
“All we were thinking of at the moment was the savings and convenience we thought we could derive from buying Councilor Rama’s essential products sold at a bargain price,” they said.
The complainants said no one from the city government ever announced that a Thai company donated over 17,000 chickens to help residents until the issue about the missing chickens spread on social media.
Sought for comment, Rama said the accusations may be “politically motivated” and meant to destroy his reputation.
“Sambag 1 was not included in the list of barangays that received the donation of CP Foods to Cebu City. All deliveries had sworn statements and matching delivery receipts,” the councilor said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Mayor Labella earlier ordered the city legal department to investigate the controversy, saying he heard but had no further knowledge about it.
City Councilor Joy Augustus Young first raised the issue during his privilege speech on June 17 and sought the liquidation of the donated chickens that went “missing” without a trace last May.
Young said he received reports that members of the Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office (MILO) allegedly sold the donated chickens for a profit.
In his privilege speech on June 25, Rama maintained that the chickens were distributed to the barangays and frontliners from May 20 to May 25.
He said he was tasked to distribute 9,185 chickens in some villages in the city’s south district, while Councilor Raymond Garcia led the distribution of 8,265 chickens in the north district.
The complainants, however, said the donations of the chickens “lacked transparency, if not totally shrouded with secrecy.”
They appealed to the anti-graft office to step in and dig deeper into the controversy.
“The case of the missing donated chickens is far from solved because many of them were shamelessly sold instead to the poor people in the barangays. On behalf of all the victims, we lodge this complaint against the public officials and representatives involved in the irregular sale of the dressed chicken donated to and intended for the poor beneficiaries in Cebu City,” they said.
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