By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
So far, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has patched up the spat between two factions in his management team. The camp of Kgd. Joshua Alim and that of his political liaison officer, Jeffrey Celiz, have stopped hurling brickbats at each other on the airlane.
The tiff unreeled earlier but it heated up anew when Alim’s I-CAST operative apprehended a 59-year old driver in Lapuz allegedly for violating the anti-smoking ordinance.
I-CAST stands for “Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force, that Mabilog stacked with loyalists.
Andrea Golez, a consultant of Mabilog, however, was taken aback at the highhanded manner of the I-CAST man in arresting the driver, a member of the Lapuz jeepney drivers’ alliance that she incidentally heads. “The arrest was improper,” noted Golez. “The driver was not smoking. The stick of cigarette seen near his feet was planted.”
Violations of the anti-smoking ordinance are penalized by fines only up to P2,500, and no imprisonment. Golez described the arrest, which she claimed happened in front of her, “Gestapo-like”. She recalled: “They ganged up on the poor driver, one of them grabbing the driver by the collar, the other twisting his (driver’s) arm behind him”.
“Ano, kriminal ato sia nga torsihon gid nila iya butkon?” she asks.
The driver complained to the “people’s complaint desk”, incidentally, the office of Celiz who promptly investigated and summoned the I-CAST man.
Alim, the I-CAST head, however, felt slighted by Celiz’s “interference”. The two traded barbs on broadcast, each taking opposing stand on the guilt or innocence of the I-CAST man.
Celiz and Golez further dug into the record of the I-CAST man and discovered his hand in one more abusive act: earlier, his team arrested a student arbitrarily. The boy, a student of Doctors’ College, was waiting for ride when a car passed by, its driver flicking a cigarette butt through the window. They boy shook from fright as the I-CAST team accused him for smoking. Luckily, his school mates and some faculty members intervened. The lipstick stain on the cigarette showed it came from a woman, not the boy.
As of this writing, Golez got a summon from the city prosecutor ordering her to answer the complaint-affidavit filed by Alim against her for “obstruction of justice”. Should the inquest fiscal find probable cause for her guilt, a criminal information will be filed before the court and the latter would issue an arrest warrant as a matter of course, in effect, prompting her to raise money to post bail, which incidentally, is bigger than the fine carried by the anti-smoking ordinance itself.
Should Golez be convicted, she would be jailed for “obstruction of justice”, for “blocking” the enforcement of the ordinance that in the first place, does not mete out imprisonment.
Mabilog has ordered the I-CAST people to drop the complaint against Golez and the driver. The summon from the public prosecutor came as a shock to her who could not imagine Alim being defiant of the mayor.
As consolation, a friend in Atty. Dwight Trasadas volunteered to her defense gratis et amore. “This is pure political harassment,” notes Trasadas. “Where is obstruction there?”
Meanwhile, the rumor mill keeps on churning “news” that Celiz and Golez are jumping ship to join the camp of former justice secretary Raul Gonzalez, Sr. The two dislike it and are poised to resign if Alim and company continued to spread that ugly gossip around.
The latest tidbits in the imbroglio is that Aim offered to drop his complaint in exchange for two on the part of Golez, namely, one, move for dismissal of her criminal complaint against the I-CAST man and, two, issue a “public apology” for “unfairly” besmirching the names of Alim and the I-CAST man.
To recall, Golez sued the I-CAST man for serious physical injury. The latter allegedly knocked her out with a punch. She suffered a stroke while in hospital and today, she still limps on a four-legged cane.
We do hope for her early recovery.
“I am a woman and disabled at that,” Golez rues. “I cannot imagine why Alim hated me very much”.
I still believe Alim being a reasonable man.