Leyte councilor nabbed for selling fake receipts, certificates during convention in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 June) – The Philippine Councilors League (PCL) will be filing criminal administrative charges to a Leyte municipal councilor for allegedly selling fake official receipts and certificates of appearance during the PCL Davao Convention held at the SMX Convention Center here.

Personnel from the Sta. Ana Police Station apprehended Thursday morning Councilor Sergio Antigua Batistis, of Albuera town in Leyte, during an entrapment operation held inside the mall.

A spot report from the Davao City Police Office said the suspect was found selling fake certificates of appearances for the PCL event, after a police officer posed as a buyer.

According to Joaquin Emmanuel Pimentel, PCL national press relations officer, General Santos councilor Dominador Lagara III acted as one of the buyers, along with a policeman, upon the request of PCL officials.

Pimentel, in a statement, said the 43-year-old Batistis had been enticing delegates of the conference to pay a discounted rate for a fake certificate of registration, so that the visiting councilors no longer need to attend the events and take a tour of the city instead.

Police say Batistis was caught in possession of P103,500 believed to be proceeds of the illegal transactions, two fake certificates of appearances, two official receipts, one tablet, one cellphone, and a backpack containing 28 certificates of appearance and 22 pieces of official receipts.

PCL executive director Wilson Paclibar said in a statement that Batistis’ irregular activities were already reported in the previous PCL events.

The entrapment operation in Davao was planned out few days ago to stop Batistis’ modus operandi.

PCL national chairperson Alma Moreno and national president Maybelyn Fernandez said that the entrapment of Batistis will send a strong signal to all members nationwide that the league’s leadership is serious in cleansing its ranks and protect its image and promote good governance.

Milgrace Driz, DCPO spokesperson, said the official will be charged of swindling under the Revised Penal Code.

The news of Thursday’s arrest followed Wednesday’s news that some visiting councilors, who wanted to avail of a discount, demanded from the national office to be allowed to live out of their assigned hotels.

However, national PCL officials and local organizers here did not allow the practice as a previous memo prohibited the living out of designated hotels unless there was not enough rooms for accommodation.

Parañaque Councilor Moreno, who spoke Wednesday during the mayor’s night event held at the same venue, said that her party was also subjected to the strict enforcement of local ordinances.

She said her driver was flagged down earlier this week for reportedly driving 42 kph in a 30 kph road.

The city’s executive order 39 mandates speeds ranging from 30 kph to 60 kph in different roads in the city, depending on the location.

During a speech delivered Wednesday about the city’s best practices, city administrator Melchor Quitain warned the visiting councilors that anyone violating the city’s ordinances, especially those on smoking, speeding, alcohol, and excessive noise would be arrested accordingly.

DCPO chief Vicente Danao, in an interview, was amused at the arrests.

“Mabuti yun (that’s good),” he said. “So that they know we’re serious with our laws.”

Driz, meanwhile, said the police office was merely enforcing their sworn duty, regardless of the stature of the offender.

“The councilors should know how to obey the law,” she said. “They are, after all, the ones that craft them.”