By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
I had the rare opportunity to talk with Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol, and he confirmed the abusive behavior of Virginia Palanco-Santiago. This woman was part of the cover-up structure put together by Mark Jalandoni to protect the crooks and plunderers in the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government. Apostol said she is evil.” – (Manuel Mejorada, Iloilo-based columnist)
What happened to Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez, the Ombudsman forced to resign on April 30 by an impeachment in progress?
Nothing is heard from her since then. She sullied her name in the nine years that she served the Arroyo administration as the country’s top graft buster, to be more specific, as protector of the country’s top crooks like First Gentleman Mike being publicly perceived as one.
Since she left, Gutierrez is literally off the hook though she ought to be held accountable as co-conspirator and coddler of prime suspects in celebrated thievery cases. She saved FG Mike from the $328 milion NBN-ZTE scam; she shielded Comelec chair Ben Abalos from the P1.3 billion election computerization scandal; she sat on the P728 million fertilizer scam involving agriculture undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante; refused to investigate the P1.2 billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard which spanned only five kilometers but overpriced by P600 million.
Gutierrez not only betrayed public trust. She is party to those monumental robberies. Removal from office is not enough, she must be made to answer for those crimes. Letting her off the hook all the more affirm that impunity still rages in this blighted land because a ring leader that enforced impunity in the GMA regime still roams around.
Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez invented the position of “assistant ombudsman”, a fictitious yet powerful post as it sidelined deputy ombudsmen disliked by Gutierrez and cabal, contrary to RA 6770 or the Ombudsman Act that creates the Deputy Ombudsman as the senior officer for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
As outcome of the Gutierrez fiat, one Virginia Palanca-Santiago was appointed “assistant Ombudsman” which literally became the highest position for the Visayas, subsuming the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol, Jr.
The Gutierrez cabal emasculated Apostol, cut him off as communication flow between the Central and the Visayas offices of the Ombudsman operated only between Gutierrez and Santiago, the latter vested with the omnibus power and liberty to (mis)represent the Ombudsman-Visayas in conferences and in sitting on big-time cases like the Pavia housing scam of 2001 involving P135 million and dragging big names like Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas, among others.
Virginia Palanca-Santiago no longer reports to her office now in Iloilo as the regional director since yours truly ran these series calling her “embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia, a moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong is as revolting as her looks”.
When GMA named Apostol Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas in 2007, Palanca-Santiago tendered her intent to retire but was dissuaded. After Gutierrez left, she tendered twice her intent to retire, which was disapproved, this time for a different reason.
Former Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas, Sr., now director of the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC), says she cannot retire because of pending administrative charges slapped on her for grave misconduct and usurpation of authority. Justice is catching up on the embalmed Mommy Dionisia, finally.
To recall, Tupas and his junior, Rep. Niel C. Tupas, Jr., were rapped by then Vice Gov. Rolext T. Suplico in 2007. Suplico charged the young Tupas for holding “ghost” seminars or assemblies of barangay officials, and the older Tupas for malversation of funds by hiring of over “ghost employees”.
The two respondents showed documents disproving the ghost project yarns. Apostol dismissed the charges in the same year.
Early this year, as the Office of the Ombudsman convulsed from impeachment initiated by Rep. Tupas, Jr., chair of the committee on justice, the two got their surprise: they got orders from Palanca-Santiago to answer in ten days the same complaints of Suplico.
The older Tupas said Apostol went ballistic. Even law students know that a subordinate has no power of review over a superior. Palanca-Santiago maliciously reversed Apostol’s decision, that makes her liable for grave misconduct and usurpation of function and authority.
Let justice be served on her.