Issue of September 16, 2018
Mt. Province

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NBI stops probe on chicken dung payola
by Ofelia C. Empian

Due to lack of evidence, the National Bureau of Investigation-Cordillera has stopped its investigation on the alleged chicken dung payola involving municipal and provincial officials of Benguet. 

In a letter to Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso, NBI-CAR Acting Director Sixto Burgos Jr. said the agency have to concede in its investigation as there are no substantial evidence for the bureau to pursue its probe.

Burgos said NBI agents have requested for the presence of Rose Maliones, one of the chicken dung traders, to elaborate on her earlier claims on alleged payola, but was unable to substantiate her allegations.

He said Maliones claimed that Melicio Orid also known as “Takay” stated during their group meeting in January that the “increase in parking fee will be given as payola to local and provincial officials.”

Orid is the caretaker of the parking facility catering to chicken dung at Sitio Tili, the boundary of Tublay and La Trinidad.

“However, Maliones was not able to substantiate her claim, and even the persons interviewed who were present at the meeting cannot categorically say that Orid declared that the increase in parking fee was to be used as bribe to provincial officials,” Burgos added.

Burgos said Orid was asked to comment and he “vehemently denied the existence of ‘payola’ to any public official.”

The NBI director said Orid insisted he may have been misunderstood during their meeting in January when he said that part of the increase was to be given to the “province.”

He added that Orid claimed he was referring to the quarantine fee and the payment of stickers issued by the provincial government for the trucks, not the alleged payola of the provincial officials.

“It is apparent that the testimony of Orid is vital and controlling in the present controversy. If he admitted that payola is being distributed to public officials then we would have a ground to prosecute the concerned officers,” he said.

“However, he chose to stand by his testimony before the SP that he is not engaged in any illegal transaction and although his explanation is not totally convincing, we have to take it at face value for now,” Burgos said.

He said they have also interviewed other sources to clarify the issue but “most can only offer information which are basically hearsay in nature.”

“We have to concede that we do not have enough evidence at present to file a criminal complaint with regards to the ‘chicken dung payola’ issue. Nonetheless, rest assured that we will act appropriately if future development/s would warrant a reinvestigation thereof,” Burgos said.

Earlier, Pacalso has  sought the NBI to investigate the alleged payola involving the chicken dung trade and the local officials in response to a provincial resolution requesting the governor to create an independent task force to investigate the matter.

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