MANILA - Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno dismissed as politically motivated the plunder charges filed against him by five barangay officials from the city.
"Nakakatawang isipin na usong-uso kasi yung salitang plunder dahil siyempre in na in yun. Yung mga kalaban mo sa pulitika, yun ang gagamitin para maging parte sila ng balita," Moreno said in an interview with radio dzMM on Friday.
Five barangay chairs from Tondo have filed before the Office of the Ombudsman a plunder complaint against Moreno, Councilors Marlon Lacson and Edward Maceda, and several other officials for allegedly pocketing over P77 million in real property taxes in October and December last year.
Barangay 116 Chairman Eduardo Solis, one of the complainants in the case, accused Moreno and the other officials of diverting real property tax shares to a "dummy" barangay.
But according to Moreno, the supposed dummy barangay the complainants were referring to was Barangay 128 in Smokey Mountain.
"It is definitely not true. There is no dummy barangay. Barangay 128 po yun, yun po yung Smokey Mountain, he said.
He explained that the funds they gave to Smokey Mountain, as well as Parola and Baseco, were from the so-called "zero barangays" -- Pier 2, Pier 4 and Pier 6.
"Wala pong mamamayan, wala pong barangay official kaya po ang tawag zero barangay... Mas marami pa po ang barko doon kaysa tao, mas marami pang containers, pero may income. So naka-float," he said.
Moreno said it has been a "normal proceeding" in the city since the time of former Mayors Lito Atienza and Alfredo Lim for "poor" barangays to request to the city council that they be allowed to use the "floating" funds of the zero barangays.
"Humihingi ng tulong sa konseho ng Maynila na kung yung pera ng mga itong nakalutang na hindi naman ginagamit sa zero barangay dahil wala ngang mamamayan kung pwede ba ay pakinabangan na lamang ng mga barangay na yun," he said.
"Eh ito ho kasi mga inggitero," he added, pertaining to the complainants. "Gusto nila kumuha ng share na hindi naman required ibigay sila kanila."
He said the complainants did not request for the funds. Moreover, they do not need the money, he said.
"Ang tinitingnan namin yung katayunan ng mga tao. Ano ang katayuan ng mga tao sa Parola, sa Smokey Mountain, sa Baseco? Yun ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan."
The vice mayor said the accusations against him and the other officials are clearly politically motivated. Nonetheless, he said they are all ready to face the charges.
"May habit po yata yung mga pulitiko ng Maynila na magkaso po ng magkaso... Pero may awa po ang Diyos. Kami naman po aantabayan na lang namin at igagalang po namin yung mga proper authorities to look into the case," Moreno said.