By Nora Soriño
Iligan City Bureau Chief
Iligan City — “I am not interested (in) taking over as vice mayor.”
Thus said city councilor Queenie Belmonte to reporters in the wake of the one-month-and-one-day suspension order of Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz and most of the city councilors which was served last Thursday afternoon.
Belmonte said she chooses to keep her silence on the matter.
She added that she too was saddened by what happened to the other council members. And their supporters she said, keep blaming the opposition when they themselves are the ones to be blamed for what happened. She said that former mayor Lawrence Cruz and councilors were also slapped with suspensions and even perpetual disqualifications but they did not blame the opposition. It was a legal order that has to be followed, she added.
They are the ones to blame, she said of the other council members. She said that she had warned them earlier of repercussions should they recognize city mayor Regencia as the mayor while being detained in jail, but they did not heed such warning.
To recall, for more than two months after the suspension of Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz and a majority of the city council members was made known, said order from the Ombudsman was finally served afternoon of Thursday last week by the Department of Interior and Local Government headed by its director Foster Anayron.
The latter said the law is not specific as to who will serve as mayor while the one-month suspension of the majority of the Sangguniang Panlungsod members is in effect.
Supporters of the suspended officials who are allies of city mayor Celso Regencia insinuated that Belmonte would happily take over as vice mayor, being a daughter of former congressman Vicente Belmonte, Jr. who had then filed a case against the mayor for allegedly masterminding an ambush of his convoy in 2014.
Regencia was then detained as a result but was released early 2017 as the cases against him relative to such were dismissed.
Belmonte and ABC president Caesarve Siacor are the only councilors not suspended.