'Good Luck!' Says Isko Moreno to Divisoria Graft Case Petitioners
If there was a key issue that has followed the campaign of Aksyon Demokratiko presidential candidate and Manila City Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, it's the allegedly dubious sale of the Divisoria Public Market.
"Good luck! 'Yun naman ay mga traditional politicians," he said to reporters in Bacolod City on Thursday, April 28.
On Wednesday, April 27, the Divisoria Public Market Credit Cooperative, headed by Emmanuel Plaza, Eduardo Fabrigas, Rogelio Bongot Jr., Betty De Leon, and Lourdes Estudillo, filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman. It was filed against Moreno, Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, two councilors, and two other city hall officials. The complaint pointed out that the Divisoria Public Market was allegedly sold "without requiring pre-qualification standards for the bidders."
It read: "The respondents must be held accountable for its arrogation of power, unbridled prerogative, unauthorized disposition of a cultural icon, in favor of a private holding corporation that is 40 percent Chinese."
The once Manila City-owned property in Binondo was sold for P1.4 billion to a private company during the pandemic. On August 10, 2020, the Deed of the Sale was consummated. The funds from the sale were said to have been used to help address the crippling economic effects of the pandemic on the city.
In March, Moreno had also spoken about potentially selling idle government assets to generate more funds. He told reporters during the inauguration of the Tondominium 2 in Tondo that as President, he would do so to solve the country's hunger problem.
“In the future, for example, may assets o ari-arian ang gobyerno na nakatiwangwang, at ang tao gutom. Hindi naman realtor ang gobyerno eh… Kapakinabangan ba ito ng tao?" he expressed. "Hindi. Kapakinabangan ng mga kumare at kumpare na malapit sa politiko.”
The issue of the sale was brought up by rights groups last year. In early 2021, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas' Alex Lopez brought up the deal as well. Lopez is running for Manila Mayor against Lacuna under Asenso Manileño, which happens to be Moreno's local party.
In early April, the Aksyon Demokratiko Chair Ernesto Ramel Jr. and the rest of the Moreno camp also accused former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s supporters of spreading "black propaganda" about the sale.