‘Fowl play’? Where are Cebu City’s ‘missing’ 17,000 chickens?
Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young raised the issue earlier this week that 17,000 dressed chickens meant to feed residents under lockdown “went missing” without a trace last May.
This issue was taken up by the Cebu City council during its session on Wednesday, June 24.
Was there “fowl” play? Young, a councilor aligned with former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña thinks so.
The opposition councilor called on Mayor Edgardo Labella to investigate the case of the missing chickens earlier this week.
Young said he has information that the dressed chickens – which were donated by a company called CP Foods – were allegedly given to city hall and barangay employees and resold, instead of being distributed to residents.
Labella, who is currently dealing with Cebu City’s skyrocketing coronavirus cases, said he didn't know what happened.
Councilor Edu Rama, who is aligned with Mayor Labella, was in charge of the distribution of the chickens in the city’s southern district, denied this.
Rama explained his side. “The claim that the chickens that were donated were dressed is an obvious lie,” Rama said.
“The chickens donated were 16,464 live chickens, not 17,000 dressed chickens,” he added.
“Buhi ni sila (They were live), Mister Chairman. Buhi ni nga manok (Those were live chickens),” Rama said passionately during the Wednesday session conducted via Zoom. “Fake news nga kanang giingon nga dressed chickens.” (The idea that the chickens were dressed is a lie.)
Rama explained that the city received the chickens from the company live, and the local government unit (LGU) of Cebu City took responsibility for finding a company to slaughter and dress the chickens.
He said that would have cost the city P300,000, but instead was able to source a contractor who was willing to do it for free.
“In total, I was tasked with the distribution of 9,185 chickens in the South District, and the other 8,265 was distributed by Councilor [Raymond] Garcia in the North District,” Rama said.
He then began to enumerate which barangays and sectors the chickens – which were delivered dressed already – went to.
The majority of the chickens in his district – 3,885 to be exact – went to Barangay Mambaling, the area hit hardest by coronavirus infections in Cebu City.
Mambaling has over 600 infections of the city’s 4,459 cases.
Rama said that he would present the deed of donations and accounting of the distribution to the Cebu City council soon.
Another councilor, Alvin Dizon, another "manok" of the local party headed by Osmeña, interpellated Rama, raising the issue of why the documents had not yet been presented to the council, when the chickens had already been distributed in May.
“I'd like to commend Councilor Edu and I salute him for clarifying the issue. However, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask the good councilor about the deed of donations of the chickens,” Dizon said.
Dizon asked, “Why is the deed of donation only being presented now? Shouldn’t it have been presented immediately?”
Rama admitted that it had been a tough month for his district, grappling with the ballooning coronavirus cases and scrambling for sources to provide aid for the urban poor areas of his district.
“Because of the challenges we are facing, and how fast things are moving, I’m sure it’s still with the Executive,” Rama said in Cebuano. “I hope it does not happen again because we will be discouraging companies to donate to the city.”
So is the case of the missing chickens closed? Or does it need further eggs-amination?
For Vice Mayor Michael Rama the issue can be laid to rest.
“The documents are already present. As I have said, figures never lie, only liars cannot figure,” the Vice Mayor said. – Rappler.com
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