Wednesday, April 14, 2010

'Poison letters' vs mayor Blueboy Nepomuceno

Supporters of Mayor Francis "Blueboy" Nepomuceno on Monday discovered and apprehended an estimated 150,000 anonymous "poison letters" allegedly worth P1.5 million at Angeles City Post Office.

City Administrator Mark Allen Sison told Sun.Star Pampanga in an exclusive interview that they received a tip from a concerned employee of the post office Sunday afternoon, alerting them of the arrival of boxes containing letters with no return addresses.

The tipster said the letters contained materials against Nepomuceno.
All letters contained what was described as "libelous and derogatory materials' against the city mayor and his administration.

"As soon as we received the tip, we waited in front of the Angeles City Post Office and waited for the assistance of the post office staff. Here, we found hundreds of letters all addressed to registered voters of Angeles City. We contacted some of the supposed letter receivers and asked them if they could open their letters, and to our shock the contents of the letters were indeed very disturbing," Sison said. Sison said that known Nepomuceno supporters were not included among the recipients of the letters.Arnel Avenir of the Angeles City Post Office said the letters arrived last Thursday in boxes and were already pre-stamped. The letters were supposed to be delivered Monday afternoon. "I was here since the last 2007 elections and this is the first time that we have encountered such situation," Avenir said, stressing that he has ordered non-delivery of the letters as investigations are being conducted by their office and the Philippine National Police.

Imelda Lansangan, 26, and a resident of Barangay Virgen De Los Remedios here, said she was shocked upon opening the anonymous letter. She was one of the supposed recipients who rushed to the Angeles City Post Office.

"I was shocked to see the letters. They are, in my opinion, harmful and can cause bad publicity for the mayor," Lansangan said. She said the letters are clear examples of dirty political tactics. Lansangan was pertaining to the contents of the poison letters. Each letter envelope contained two statements, one attributed to the Concerned Citizens of Angeles City (CCAC) and the other to Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Angeles City (NMAC).

Both organizations, however, are fictitious, according to the City Hall. The letters alleged of corruption, mismanagement and criticized the much ballyhooed Angeles City Sports Stadium started by the Nepomuceno administration late last year. The letters also showed caricatures of Nepomuceno posing with a background of money and material possessions. Sison said the issues raised in the letters are "fictitious, concocted and malicious."

He also said some of the issues in the letters have already been answered by Nepomuceno in previous interviews with the media. The letters were brought to the Philippine Postal Corporation Regional Office in the City of San Fernando. PhilPost Regional Director Love Joy Matias told Sun.Star Pampanga that the letters would at least cost some P1.5 million along with the stamp, envelope and printing cost of the materials.
Matias said the PhilPost has a strict regulation on illegal materials such as libelous letters and being sent through snail mail. Such materials, he said, should not be sent through mail.

He admitted that such campaign propaganda is allowed by the postal service agency so long as requirements like stamps and addresses, both sender and return, are complied with.

"This is even in the Constitution. We are not allowed to even peek at an envelope's contents. That is why I asked the city administrator how they were able to detect the contents," Matias said.

Matias has ordered holding of the letters at the Angeles City Post Office. He is set to issue an alert among all post offices in the region on suspicious bulk letters from anonymous senders that are used for political propaganda.

"With this case, I have referred it to our Legal Office in Manila for proper disposition and pending the complaint the party of Mayor Nepomuceno would file," he said.

Sison said they already have a suspect in mind but refused to name the person on record.
He said they are definite the letters are politically-motivated and are supposed to derail the reelection bid of Nepomuceno this May 10.

"We know who ordered this. We have defeated them in the past and we know how their mind works. They have been faring poorly at the surveys and are desperate to ruin the popularity of the mayor," Sison said.
He said there are only two other rivals for the mayoralty post and it would be easy to establish connection of the poison letters.

Sison said they are prepared to file legal action after the conclusion of the investigations.
Despite the black propaganda, Nepomuceno remains strong in the mayoralty race, he added.
"The more they discredit the mayor, the more he is endeared in the hearts of the people. He will surely come out victorious in the May 10 elections," Sison added.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 13, 2010.

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