By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
Rommel Ynion, businessman and president of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC) should not expect the law to catch up with thieves behind the Pavia Housing Scandal.
He can con only grit his teeth: the suspects are already beyond reach. The records of the cases are all gone. The complaints that lawyers Romeo Gerochi and Antonio Pesina, and the investigating committee of the sangguniang panglunsod filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas in 2004 disappeared from the files of the Ombudsman-Visayas.
That happened when the Office of the Ombudsman – Visayas was under Virginia Palanca-Santiago, embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia, a moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong is as revolting as her looks.
The Pavia Housing Scam bled taxpayers P132 million in bond flotation in 2000-2001 to build “low cost” homes for city employees at the 6-hectare city property in nearby Pavia town. Not one of the 413 units of houses was completed; Ace Builders Enterprises, Inc. (ABEI) packed up before elections 2004. In the same year, three graft charges rained on the suspects led by Jerry Trenas, then in his first term.
Nothing happened since then. Palanca-Santiago, basking in her unlawful glory as de facto head of Ombudsman-Visayas, sat on the cases. In 2004, the head thereof was Primo Miro who was debilitated by a lingering ailment aggravated by his alcohol habit. Palanca-Santiago de facto held sway.
Even after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo named Pelagio Apostol, Jr. Miro’s successor in 2006, Palanca-Santiago, was still calling the shots owing to her proximity with Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez whose shameless career as the country’s top graftbuster forcibly ended eve of Labor Day this year. She was hounded by impeachment charges and corruption reports.
Peter Jimenea, columnist and TV talk show anchor, confirmed the lost files on the Pavia Housing Scandal after he talked on phone with Palanca-Santiago.
Lately, Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” C. Tupas, Jr. was miffed after learning that Palanca-Santiago ordered him to answer complaints filed by a cousin that Visayas Ombudsman Apostol, Jr had dismissed two years ago.
What Palanca-Santiago did was a criminal act of usurpation of the Visayas Ombudsman’s power, and grave misconduct. As a lawyer, she should know that she has no power of review over a superior.
Tupas and Apostol discovered lately that the cases filed by a group of vendors against their mayor in one Iloilo town in 2009 likewise disappeared from the files of Ombudsman-Visayas, again, when Virginia Palanca-Santiago was the one calling the shots. Their counsel was constrained to re-file the complaints.
Apostol, Jr., in fairness to him, began exercising the power lodged on him by law only after the resignation of Gutierrez.
Palanca-Santiago did other foul acts as well. In 2007, an officer of a special law enforcement agency, in a drunken spell, manhandled a subordinate, banging the latter’s head on the wall, hitting him with fists and kicks, and nearly shooting him with a pistol. The victim complained. Palanca-Santiago dismissed it instantly and tossed it to the public prosecutor’s office because the incident was not job-related.
What idiocy! A superior officer abusing his power and oppressing a subordinate, you call that not job-related?
But in the case of Igbaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, Virginia Palanca-Santiago and her graft watch boys, was too stern to the point of rigging her decision.
In 2004, a pack of charlatans led by a bar flunker and a cleric whose looks reminds us of our affinity with primates, accused Esmeralda et al for pocketing P1 million in a “ghost” road gravelling. The facts drawn by the Ombudsman investigator and the Commission on Audit (COA) were inconclusive.
Palanca-Santiago solved the impasse in favor of the charlatans by convicting the respondents administratively for substandard implementation, meaning, there was no ghost project only that it was substandard because the surface materials were uneven, some had too much gravel while others had none, and some segments of the roads were only 3.5 meters wide instead of the standard 5 meters.
They were inspecting the gravelling of more than six kilometers of mountains roads on a measly P1 million fund and six months after-the-fact. The COA did not disallow it yet Palanca-Santiago ignored it to satisfy her collective lust with the charlatans.
Embalmed Mommy Dionisia made her presence scarce since your beekeeper started running this series. Now, after Apostol cut off her travel allowances, she lost both opportunities to visit Iloilo and Manila where she used to roost. (to be continued)