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Virginia Palanca-Santiago’s exercise of raw power (41)


BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER

The Western Visayas office of the Ombudsman, at Luna St., Iloilo City, changed guards with lawyer Ma. Antonette Sevilla-Daquita as acting head. Her predecessor, Virginia Palanca-Santiago, is back as director at the Ombudsman-Visayas in Cebu and no longer sports the title “Assistant Ombudsman” which does not exist in RA 6770..

The newly installed Seville-Daquita considers investigators vital to successful prosecution and in de-clogging the office of baseless suits. She would be launching trainings to sharpen the investigation skills of her people.

Another item she stresses: the Ombudsman will take cognizance only of significant cases of graft and corruption. For that, she will refer to proper administrative bodies those to be handled by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the Commission on Audits (COA), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), among others.

I pilloried the Ombudsman-Visayas at the time it was de facto headed by Virginia Palanca-Santiago who I tag point blank in my 40-series column titled above, as a misfit and “embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia, a moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong is as revolting as her looks”.

Since yours truly ran the series in early 2009, Palanca-Santiago made her presence scarce and had become more timid in interfacing with the local press. By mid-2009, when I made it a point to personally furnish the Ombudsman-W. Visayas copies of my pleadings (and victoriously argued with her sidekick Vangie Nunal who refused to receive my pleadings), her office, which could be viewed from the entrance, was bare, indicating, she already packed up.

The development at the W. Visayas office of the Ombudsman harks well for advocates of transparent and responsive governance. Palanca-Santiago should have been the first to know that. However, throughout her stint, she merely formed a pack of charlatans called “people’s graftwatch” that did nothing but heap her platitudes.

Her meetings with her loyal jesters resembled a bible service, she leading her pack in parroting ejaculations like “almighty god”, “praise the lord!” and “Jesus’s name, amen, amen, amen”. They strayed away from the raison d’etre of promoting participatory and honest governance because she and her ilk, like Libat Dos, former henchman of Pablo Escobar, had the knack to steer polity discussions into prayer meetings, with Libat Dos’s mouth oozing with “hallelujahs”, “amen” and “praise the lord”.

I volunteer my skills and experience as writer and sleuth to help Atty. Daquita hone the skills of subordinates in churning logical and coherent reports. Columnist Peter Jimenea is likewise volunteering.

That way, we can do away with the sort of sloppy decision that Palanca-Santiago lifted en toto from investigator Roderick Blazo in “People’s Graftwatch of Iloilo, Inc. vs. Jaime Esmeralda, et al”.

Blazo in belabored English started off that Esmeralda et al pocketed the P1 million from Sen. Franklin Drilon. In short, the resurfacing of two mountain roads in Igbaras, Iloilo in April 2004 was never implemented, “ghost project” as he called it.

He came to the scene and saw traces of implementation which sufficed to trash the “ghost project” yarn. Blazo proved himself merely as quack investigator. He shifted theory: from ghost project to substandard implementation and justified that by stating that some portions of the roads had no gravel, thus, below the 1-inch thickness.

It was idiotic to apply that standard to re-gravelling but quack investigator Blazo pulled off yet another funny conclusion by holding the respondents guilty because some portions of the roads were less than 5-meters wide.

Such idiotic report never underwent scrutiny. The embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia swallowed it without considering that the subject roads were on the mountain sans drainage ditches and prone to deteriorate from rains and vehicular traffic.

Mommy Dionisia and her quack investigator did not factor the fact that P1 million was too meager to re-gravel more than six kilometers of mountain roads.

Mommy Dionisia and her quack investigator came to Igbaras eight months after-the-fact when the storms already defaced much of the town’s road network. Both ignored the COA that did not disallow the project; both faulted respondents because the project failed the 1-inch thickness and 5-meter width standards.

Palanca-Santiago must be investigated for corruption and barred from slipping into early retirement.

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