BY PET MELLIZA
Virginia Palanca-Santiago’s exercise of raw power (17)
Virginia Palanca-Santiago, the woman who should be addressed to as “Honorable” being the assistant ombudsman for the Visayas and concurrently, regional director of the Office of the Ombudsman in Western Visayas, scarcely shows her face in Iloilo these days.
Further, her office no longer accepts my pleadings; her subordinates told me to mail them directly to the Cebu office on the lame excuse that receiving pleadings at the Iloilo office “affect” the reglamentary period of responding to pleadings.
I don’t know how receiving documents by the Iloilo office reduces the reglamentary period. In this IT age, Virginia Palanca-Santiago can make use of the internet, fax machine or telephone in transmitting the contents of any pleading. Besides, the Iloilo office has an in-house lawyer to answer the pleading in her behalf.
We are inclined to suspect that the reason why the Iloilo office of the Ombudsman no longer wants to receive our pleading is to spare Virginia Palanca-Santiago the embarrasment of having her subordinates read my pleadings to which I would attach copies of these series of exposes that in the main, unmask her.
This is already the 17th in the series on the above-titled topic but Virginia Palanca-Santiago who should be addressed to as “honorable” still refuses to answer. She has made herself scarce at the Iloilo office where she used to spend two to three days per week.
The grist of these series is that Virginia Palanca-Santiago rigged her decision in People’s Graftwatch of Iloilo, Inc. versus jaime Esmeralda (Mayor of Igbaras, Iloilo), et al. The case involved a P1 million fund spent to regravel two mountain roads in Igbaras, Iloilo that stretched for some six kilometers. The actual money spent for the gravel and the grading was only P450,000, the rest for labor (P150,000 which was still unspent and kept intact at the municipal treasury), and the rest for the steel bars, concrete culverts and bags of cement, and the standard reserve.
The COA did not find any irregularlity in the implementation thus, did not disallow it. Disallowance, in COA parlance, means that an expenditure has been found to be irregular, thus, the notice of disallowance on the concerned public official to explain the apparent irregularity. If the COA waere satisfied by the explanation, it closes the issue, if not, it orders the official to restitute the government otherwise appropriate charges would be filed.
The complainants, actually, a pack of charlatans masquerading as graftbusters led by a perpetual bar flunker and a cleric who proves the Evolution Theory by simply showing his face around, charged that the entire P1 million was pocketed by Esmeralda et al, thus their term “ghost road gravelling project”. They submitted a thick wad of affidavits to prove their point. The sworn statement were lifted from a single template with identical allegations, date of execution and notarial subscription. Their only differences from one another were the names, signatures and other personal circumstances of the invididual affiants who all alleged that they hadn’t seen any delivery of sand and gravel, nor heavy equipment delivering materials and grading the filling aggregates from January 2004 through April 2004, the period when the project was implemented.
The ocular inspection done by investgator Roderick Blazo in September 2004, four months after the implementation, sholuld have suffice to dismissed the complaint. However, Blazo proving himself a quack investigator, shifted theory midstream. From the ghost-project yarn of the complainants, he turned to substandard implementation. His report, no matter how idiotic, impliedly acknowledged implementation only that it was substandard, as the barangay roads inspected did not conform to specifications found in the program or works – the gravel was unevenly graded, some portions of the road had too much of it while others had none. Still, the gravel surface fell below the standard one-inch thickness. Blazo further faulted Esmeralda et al for the sad condition of the roads – some were narrower than standard, and for the deterioration of the bags of cement, steel bars and concrete culverts that were meant to be used for the drainage.
Though a civil engineer, quack investigator Roderick Blazo thought he was inspecting a road concreting or asphalting. He insisted strictly on the standard for thickness – five months afer the fact, when the rainy season already deformed the mountain roads of Igbaras, Iloilo.
The confrontasi between the two pillars of the graftwatch club – Libat Uno and Libat Dos – at the house fronting the Igbaras PNP Station at the last anniversaryof the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr., merelly confirm public suspicion that somebody’s hand, particularly, Virginia Palanca-Santiago’s, were greased.
I have repeatedly wrote on that but Virginia Palanca-Santiago continued to remain silent, to borrow a cliche, of the sepulcher.
We are repeating here what we have been crying throughout – Virginia Palanca-Santiago should not be allowed to exit into retirement incognito. She must be investigated for corruption.