By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
ILOILO City Mayor Jose Espinosa III wants two barangay captains in City Proper district to undergo investigation for alleged extortion at the Iloilo Terminal Market.
In an interview on Monday, Espinosa said he will be talking with the Regional Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the appropriate actions or investigation needed to solve the alleged extortion.
“I will be talking with the Regional Director of NBI because we want to know if there is, because many are complaining at the Terminal Market,” he said.
The mayor identified Punong Barangay Alain Rey Depatillo of Rizal Pala-Pala I and Noel Soliman of Rizal Pala-Pala II as the ones behind the alleged extortion at the Terminal Market.
When reached for comments, Depatillo and Soliman refused to talk until the investigation results are out.
According to Espinosa, he received various complaints from some of the vendors in the Terminal Market that they are being charged P50 for the use of tables, P15 for a single bulb and P10 for the plastic canvass used as table cover for fish products.
He emphasized that charging the vendors is “extortion on a grand scale.”
“That is against the law and I will not tolerate that. That is easy money and a racket, they can earn as much as P10,000 a day and P300,000 a month,” he lamented.
Aside from this, Espinosa said illegal structures are also being constructed in different areas of the Terminal Market.
Once validated, the mayor emphasized that he wants cases to be filed against the extortionists.
“I want cases to be filed if there is basis,” he said.
Ariel Castañeda, head of the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) which manages the markets, said the alleged extortion was an offshoot of the report on the complaints of vendors which he submitted to the Office of the City Mayor.
Castañeda said around 70 vendors of the Terminal Market were victims of the alleged extortion.
“May individuals nga gapanukot outside of the required fees. Actually the complaints last year pa nila ginpaabot sa aton opisina,” he said.
Generally, the city government charges only about P10 to P20 for the table or “arkabala” daily per vendor aside from entrance fees for their goods, according to Castañeda.
The Iloilo Terminal Market, popularly known as “Super” market, is the biggest and the top earner among the seven public markets in the metro.