Mayor vows to pursue individuals linked to shady City Hall deals

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez (Glazyl Y. Masculino Photo)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The city government will go after individuals who commit illegal activities like the issuance of fake business permits, as they continue to intensify their anti-corruption drive to clean up City Hall.

This was the warning issued by Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez in a press briefing at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC) here yesterday, following the arrest of a 25-year-old man from Talisay City, Negros Occidental in an entrapment operation led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Bacolod last Saturday.

The entrapment operation stemmed from a complaint of a business owner here through “Isugid Kay Mayor” radio program, after he discovered that his 2023 business permit was fake.

According to the complainant, he paid P7,500 for the renewal of his permit last year and paid another P5,600 for the penalties. But when his staff processed the renewal of the permit this year, they discovered that he has no record with the City Permits and Licensing Division Office.

The complainant said that he entrusted the processing of the permits last year to his friend, who had previously worked in the city. He was referred to go to a portrait shop in the Downtown area so that he could be assisted in the processing of documents for the renewal of his permit this year.

From that information, authorities then launched surveillance to validate the report. Based on a video shown to the members of the media yesterday, an asset transacted with an employee of a portrait shop for a business permit.

In the video, the employee was seen editing a document needed for a business permit. However, the first attempt to arrest the owner and his employee failed, because the owner was able to sense the surveillance.

It was his employee, who continued the transaction outside their shop and met with the asset of the NBI in the second entrapment operation in a shopping mall here over the weekend.

The suspect told the authorities that he was hired by a portrait shop owner as a computer graphic artist. But, he ended up allegedly editing and producing fake business permits for P1,000 for ordinary paper, and P1,300 for special paper.

The suspect said that he had been working at the portrait shop for three years already.

City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting Jr., said yesterday that the NBI will file falsification of documents against the arrested suspect.

Ting also said that the portrait shop owner will also face charges for alleged conspiracy. He added that the owner was also previously arrested for falsification of documents and is currently under probation, citing the record from the NBI.

“Surprisingly, the extent of involvement sang mga tawo with these kinds of illegal acts, is not perpetrated by one or two persons,” Benitez said, as he believed that these people might be syndicated. He, however, refused to give all the details,  pending the investigation.

“All I can say is ang nadakpan nanugid na gid kung sin-o involved sa sini na mga activities,” the mayor said, adding that they will continue with the investigation to prevent and arrest individuals who are doing this kind of activity.

“Daw ka glaring. Wala nahadlok sa ila ginahimo. They don’t know that this is a serious charge,” Benitez said.

He commended the NBI for immediately acting on the said complaint and for the arrest of the suspect.

Benitez is appealing to business owners to take the initiative to scan the QR code of their own business permits to ensure its authenticity.

“Kung ila intention is to secure a fake business permit, kag makita sang joint inspection team ta, sila gid manabat,” Benitez said.

He said that it is better for business owners to police their own documents and ensure the process of getting permits to determine if it’s legal or not.

“After all the processes, look out na na sila. They could not claim innocence if madakpan sila na fake ila business permit,” he added.

Business owners can process their permits at the BCGC, and the Business Online One-Stop Shop (BOSS) at SM City Bacolod, and Ayala Malls Capitol Central until February 15.

Meanwhile, the complainant needs to pay more than P6,000 for his renewal this year, including penalties, so he could be allowed to operate.

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