Village chief seeks Prez’ help

January 19, 2020

Distance is something you do to your enemies. – City Hall

What do you do when you are convinced a powerful official upset or embarrassed by what you believe to be a lawful conduct of official affairs is doing you wrong and the judicial processes are apparently being brought to bear down hard on you?

The prospect of being unjustly jailed would surely put anyone in such a situation in a state of panic.

But such desperate situation should prompt anyone to seek relief and refuge from a more powerful, if not the most powerful official in the land, one sworn to “render justice to everyone”.

The Office of the President is the citizen’s last resort because as the highest office in the land, the buck stops there.

And luckily for both citizens and local officials, the incumbent President has zero tolerance for both official abuse or neglect of duties among those in the government service.

Ped Xing’s attention was called to what appears to be a political squeeze play.

Claiming to be a victim of a political war being waged by Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco against his political foes, a barangay chairman from the city has sought help from President Duterte in a last-minute attempt to spare him from possible jail time arising from a non-bailable case filed against him.

Before a select group of media, Wilfredo Mariano, chairman of Barangay Tangos, Navotas City, presented a letter he sent to the President, Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año, and  Justice Sec. Medardo Guevarra, seeking assistance regarding a kidnapping case filed against him and two others by a supporter of  the mayor.

According to Mariano, the case stemmed from an incident during the last elections.  

Around early evening on May 13, last year, Mariano said a group of men came to his office at the barangay hall in Tangos with someone in tow, which the group claimed was engaging in vote-buying.

However, after turning over the suspected vote-buyer to him, the group immediately left. The suspected vote-buyer, who was then wearing a t-shirt bearing the name of then mayoral candidate Tiangco, was later identified as Rommel Sopera, a driver of Navotas City Hall.

Sopera denied he was engaged in vote-buying and was simply delivering food to Tiangco’s  poll watchers.

With no complainant against him, Mariano said Sopera then decided to file a complaint against those who brought him to the barangay hall, claiming he was brought there against his will, and that his cell phone and some of his money were taken by the group.

Mariano said he even assisted Sopera in filing his complaint and had two of his barangay tanods accompany him to get his motorcycle which he left near the voting precinct.

However, after two months, Mariano said he received a subpoena stating that he was being charged with kidnapping, illegal detention, robbery and violation of Omnibus Election Code, along with two others --  former congressional candidate Rico de Guzman, lawyer of PDP-Laban and who ran against Tiangco in 2013, and Rolando Morato, driver of the van which brought Sopera to the barangay hall.

Early this month, Mariano said he received a resolution signed by city prosecutor Rennet Evangelista recommending the filing of kidnapping charges against him and Morato. De Guzman was exonerated as it was never established he was even near the vicinity where the incident happened.

At that juncture, Mariano said he sought the help of Tiangco, who, in turn, allegedly asked him to give him the papers concerning the case.

Then, after two days, Tiangco allegedly asked Mariano to come to his (mayor’s) office and told him to just provide the names of the group who brought Sopera to him (Mariano). The mayor allegedly said he would help the beleaguered barangay official.

But Mariano pleaded he really doesn’t know them,

While not categorically saying Tiangco was trying to pressure him to implicate certain political personalities, Mariano maintained his case was clearly tainted with politics.

“But please spare me and my family. This is no laughing matter. I am facing a non-bailable case, and anytime now, we heard that the case will be filed before the court. If the court upholds that,…then I am facing arrest,” said Mariano in Filipino.

“And that is why I am calling on the President, the DILG, and the DoJ to please investigate the incident. I have done nothing wrong except maybe to fail Mayor Toby Tiangco in his personal battle against his political foes,” Mariano said.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.