Mayor ‘answers’ issue of political harassment
Cortes mayor Jasmin Balistoy finally broke her silence over a published accusation that she is harassing business interests of her political opponents.
“Anyone may visit our town and can randomly ask residents if I had harassed any business enterprise of my perceived political opponents,” the Cortes mayor said.
Pointing in particular to a gasoline station now being constructed in barangay Upper dela Paz, she clarified that a Notice of Illegal Construction with order to stop all building activities in the area issued by the Municipal Engineer was based on legal grounds and not because it is owned by a political opponent.
“Such gas station construction has not secured the required clearances from the local government. The owners claimed they have submitted the application papers but it had not reached my office. If it had been submitted, it could have been acted upon officially and immediately. But there’s no such application and therefore there is no cause of action or basis for my office to issue any document requested,” Mayor Balistoy said.
Businessman Oscar Lim earlier accused Mayor Balistoy of political harassment, when the latter refused to issue a zonal clearance applied for the construction of his gasoline station. Mayor Balistoy is the chairman of the Local Zoning Board. In a press statement, Lim said the mayor’s action is vindictive, a political harassment because his son, municipal councilor Lynn Iven Lim is among those who signed a letter sent to the Ombudsman-Visayas, requesting investigation on the alleged many corrupt acts of the Cortes mayor.
Lim added that the mayor is also motivated by selfish business interest since she (Mayor Balistoy) also owns and operate a gasoline station in Purok 1, Barangay Poblacion, Cortes.
“For the record, I don’t own a gas station and secondly there is no truth to the accusation that because Iven Lim is a political opponent, I am not issuing their requested permits,” Mayor Balistoy said.
To support her clarification, the mayor made reference to records filed at the Municipal Business Section that showed permits were issued to perceived political opponents; among them former mayor Romeo “Tata” Labor whom he defeated in a hotly contested election for her first term in 2004.
“Right after election, application for business permit of former mayor Tata Labor, including his relatives were all approved. In fact, he now heads the municipal Liga ng mga Barangay federation and is supportive to development projects in Cortes. There is no political vendetta happening in my town,” Mayor Balisoty pointed out.
She added that permits were also issued to municipal kagawad Junjun Hubac (3 business permits), to Martian Iyoy and to former kagawad Miriam Chiu. Hubac and Iyoy are among the six municipal councilors that signed the Ombudsman request for investigation against the Cortes mayor and her son, Sangguniang Bayan member Jun Eckart Balistoy. Chiu had a misunderstanding with the mayor over a permanent position-appointment for her in-law that was later declared by the Civil Service Commission as null and void.
“Truth of the matter in the problem with Iven Lim lies in the fact that they have not submitted any business-related application in my office. They have not even renewed their permits for their tanker fuel hauling business but I did not go after them. There is no political harassment against Lim nor to any political opponent here in Cortes. The town is business-friendly to all, with no discrimination and that policy is proven throughout my soon-to-be completed 3 terms,” Mayor Balistoy clarified.