Councilor Gregory Yarra, chair of SP committee on good governance, accountability and public ethics, said the inquiry would determine the veracity of the payment of P100, 000 to the Al Khobar group, suspected behind extortion activities victimizing politicians and business establishments as sort of protection money here and around the region.
He said the inquiry would try to find out if the money was taken from the public funds or from the mayors’ own pocket.
Mayor Gantuangco admitted Tuesday in radio station DXCA interview here that he gave P100, 000 to the Al Khobar Group but denied allegation it was taken from public funds. He insisted that it was his personal money.
The claim may be confusing as the affidavit he made before the city prosecutions office dated December 17, where he admitted that the P100,000 was taken from the peace and order fund of the city government.
Councilor Yarra reacted to these statements saying that “the Sangguniang Panlungsod has no knowledge about the payoff and the source of money being paid to the extortionist.”
Yarra has pointed out that the payoff was illegal.
The city councilor also questioned the participation of chief inspector Leo Ajero, Kidapawan city chief of police and Insp. Benjamin Mauricio, the deputy chief of police for operation, on the payoff issue.
“Why [should] these police officers deposit the money at the bank when in fact they knew that there [was] a standing government policy of not paying money to the extortionists?” Yarra said.
Yarra said the police or any local chief executive could not combat terrorism by paying protection money to any extortion group operating in Southwestern Mindanao.
The legislative inquiry will be handled by the committee on peace and order chaired by Councilor Jonares John Amador. (Williamor A. Magbanua / MindaNews)