By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
A post early dawn of May 30 in cyberspace social medium has former Iloilo provincial administrator, now columnist Manuel Mejorada, hitting the Ombudsman for sitting on his graft suit against Rep. Augusto Syjuco (Lakas, Iloilo, 2nd district).
He slapped Syjuco the complaint in 2004, more known now as “cellphone scam”. Here, Syjuco allotted P6.2 million to buy mobile phones for barangay officials in his congressional district. The phones never reached the intended beneficiaries.
Mejorada smelled rat because the units were “delivered” with then Sta. Barbara mayor Isabelo Maquino “receiving” the goods from a “supplier” who was chief of staff of Syjuco’s office in Sta. Barbara.
Incidentally, the supplier’s principal business was delivery of soft drinks. It was the first time he sold mobile phones commercially.
The identity of the supplier confirmed Mejorada’s contention that it was a farcical contract. Mayor Maquino the “consignee” came out in the open wailing that his signature was forged. Worse, the recipient the barangay officials denied they ever received any phone from the congressman.
Syjuco had no escape. There was probable cause to hold him prima facie liable for corruption and misconduct.
Unfortunately, Mejorada filed his suit at the time when Syjuco was vested with impunity to do whatever he wanted with his pork. Mejorada filed his complaint at the very period when the Western Visayas office of the Ombudsman was headed by a moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong was as revolting as her looks.
That explains why his other complaint – the multi-million heavy equipment scam (P8 million) continued to gather dust. Virginia Palanca-Santiago, ranked “director” and “assistant ombudsman” (the latter a non-existing title in RA 6770), again sat on it. The facts of this case: in 2005 Syjuco coursed some P8 million to Tao kag Lupa Foundation which bought three pieces of second hand heavy equipment from a corporation in Manila. Next, the foundation resold the equipment to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) at a higher price.
Where are the three pieces of equipment now? They rot at stockyard of the DPWH Bureau of Equipment in Zarraga town, overpriced yet defective. Mejorada submitted to Palanca-Santiago tell-tale signs of thievery: documents showing that the corporation which supplied the heavy equipment, the foundation which bought them for resale to the DPWH, were both alter egos of Syjuco. He controlled both.
Palanca-Santiago, writes our good friend Edgar Cadagat in the Negros Daily Bulletin (February 20, 2012), was a stooge of Mark Jalandoni, the resigned deputy ombudsman for Luzon.
Cadagat’s source is Pelagio Apostol, Sr. himself, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas. In a forum with Serve the People Movement, an anti-graft NGO in Negros Occidental, Apostol tags his subordinate part of the protective structure put up by Jalandoni to shield big time grafters — Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, First Gentlemen Mike Arroyo and their lackeys.
That explains why graft charges leveled on leading bureaucrats of Negros and Iloilo are consigned to the dustbins. During the GMA regime, Apostol was emasculated by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who “promoted” Palanca-Santiago to a fictitious post “assistant ombudsman” who directly dealt with the national office. Palanca-Santiago made arrangements with accused public officials, writes Cadagat.
That explains the other good trait of the embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia who acted like an over-speeding train in deciding, even rigging, cases involving petty public officials and tiny amounts like what she did in 2004 in the complaints against Igbaras, Iloilo mayor Jaime Esmeralda involving P1 million, that she partially resolved in March 2005 with a six months preventive suspension even before the respondents’ counter-affidavits reached her office.
Now that Gutierrez and Jalandoni are out, now that Palanca-Santiago is downsized, now that his power as deputy ombudsman restored, Apostol has no more excuse in dragging his feet in resolving the multi-million cell-phone and heavy equipment scams, and throwing the book on Syjuco whose blood is sought by depositors of Nation Bank.
Syjuco owned Nation Bank which folded up in 2004 after squandering deposits in dubious loans.
Palanca-Santiago who looked at the other direction in the bank fiasco, should not be allowed to retire in July with retirement perks intact. She must be investigated for corruption.