The Office of the City Vice Mayor was near empty on a Tuesday morning, with only five employees present. They huddled at the front desk, prepared to respond to queries from occasional visitors. No one was coming so far. Their head of office, Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, is in detention at the City police office, facing illegal drugs and firearms possession case.
Utility worker Nancy Duma said they had been instructed to look after the office while other staff were not yet around.
“We are saddened by what happened to our boss. Despite that, this is still his office and we need to secure it because we’ll never know what might happen,” Duma said.
Police authorities raided Marcaida’s residence on Monday morning, placing him on handcuffs and under arrest after 30 sachets of shabu and various firearms and ammunition were discovered in his house.
Marcaida’s staff refused to believe their boss may be involved in drug trafficking or selling as evidenced by the contraband taken from his house. The shabu packs were discovered right on his living room, hardly concealed behind his own portrait on a display table.
“He couldn’t do all those things being alleged against him. Even when he has almost nothing to give, he would just draw out any amount from his own pocket just to extend help to others,” Duma said.
Marcaida’s fate will be determined by how he can handle his defense on at least three different criminal cases filed against him. He maintained innocence, claiming that the evidence were planted in his house by masked men who first arrived at their residence before the raiding team.
Marcaida, prior to his arrest, was also facing various other problems back at City Hall. His political opponents only a week ago launched a recall petition to try and ease him from his post. This came in the wake of his continuing fight with Mayor Lucilo Bayron for the mayoralty.
Marcaida has been contesting the mayoralty from Bayron, insisting that the latter has been ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman. Last month, he proclaimed himself as mayor of the City, but the banks and the City Council did not recognize his oath.
Buddy Tinay, one of Marcaida’s executive staff and cousin, said they will not leave his office even while Marcaida is being held in detention.
“He is the official mayor of Puerto Princesa,” Tinay said.
In small trickles, the rest of Marcaida’s staff started arriving. Some went straight to their field job, while others first dropped by the city police to receive office instructions.
“This home is just the same, except for the fact that the father isn’t around; there’s no one giving commands and taking the lead on all of the activities here at the vice mayor’s office,” said Edrick Caabay, assistant chief in Marcaida’s community affairs division.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Caabay visited the city police, but he was not allowed to see Marcaida. “But our chief of staff is still there, and our boss advised her to tell us to continue reporting,” he said.