Sigma mayor urges officials to be role models

(left) Sigma Mayor Dante Rizal Eslabon and SB member Fernando Capapas

By Felipe V. Celino

SIGMA, Capiz – “Don’t act as untouchable. Be a role model to our constituents,” declared Mayor Dante Rizal Eslabon to the members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Sigma.

This statement followed a heated confrontation on May 23, 2024, between personnel from the Public Order Security Unit (POSU) and municipal councilor Fernando Capapas.

Eslabon told Daily Guardian on June 4 that Capapas berating POSU traffic enforcer Allan Gallardo Alejandria, 33, constituted conduct unbecoming of an official, especially considering that Capapas authored the ordinance he violated.

The mayor announced he would provide legal assistance to enforcers filing cases against municipal officials.

The POSU was created by Eslabon through executive order to enforce Sigma’s traffic ordinance, specifically Ordinance No. 03-S-2024, which mandates the use of wheel clamps to immobilize illegally parked vehicles and imposes penalties for violations.

“Although we are allies and belong to the same political party, it’s not right to act above the law. We are elected and paid by the people to serve them, not to intimidate them,” Eslabon emphasized.

According to a police blotter recorded at Sigma police station on May 25, 2024, Alejandria and colleagues Arnel Quirao and Primo Quistadio Jr. were conducting a public safety operation when they saw two vehicles, a maroon and a black Mitsubishi Montero, parked along the national highway in front of the house of the late Sigma Mayor Roberto Sualog.

The municipal ordinance designates the area as a loading and unloading zone, prohibiting parking due to numerous nighttime accidents.

Alejandria reported that Capapas, appearing drunk, approached them.

The councilor had been drinking with incumbent Sigma Vice Mayor Christopher Andaya, kagawad Thomas Lavapie, and former town councilor Lyndon Alayon at a nearby establishment.

The traffic enforcers informed and warned Capapas that he was violating the ordinance.

Capapas retorted, saying he knew the ordinance well since he was one of its signatories. He allegedly said, “Don’t take your job seriously because people will come after you.”

The traffic enforcers remained calm and reiterated that they were merely doing their job.

After both parties shook hands, the enforcers continued their patrol.

However, upon returning around 11:30 p.m., they found the vehicles still parked in the prohibited area. Alejandria issued another warning and a citation ticket for a P300 fine.

Capapas raised his voice, refusing to accept the citation ticket and arguing that there were no signs indicating illegal parking.

He also questioned the ordinance’s validity, despite records showing it had been upheld by the provincial board of Capiz on May 23, 2024.

During the confrontation, Andaya joined Capapas in disputing the citation. Capapas allegedly threatened the enforcers, saying he would file a case against them and made derogatory remarks.

Quistadio and Francisco arrived to question the enforcement, but the enforcers left to avoid escalating the situation, seeking assistance from the police station.

Capapas denied threatening POSU members and claimed he only asked to see the ordinance provisions before accepting the citation. He admitted to drinking but denied being drunk.

Daily Guardian attempted to contact Andaya for his comments, but he did not respond.

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