BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Virginia Palanca-Santiago, “assistant ombudsman” for Visayas, a non-existent position in RA 6770, must have retired by now amid charges filed by her superior Pelagio Apostol, Sr. and by Mactan Rep. Arturo Radaza.
Radaza charged her for grave misconduct. She rigged a resolution holding him guilty for graft. As her good habit is, Palanca-Santiago accredited charlatans led by Radaza’s rival who faced tax evasion raps, into the “people’s graftwatch” that scored Radaza for overpriced computers.
Apostol, deputy Ombudsman for Visayas, was quoted by columnist Edgar Cadagat addressing the Serve the People Movement in Negros Occiental blaming Palanca-Santiago for wheeling-dealing in resolving monumental graft cases on that Island.
This is the 45th in a series that I’ve been writing that this embalmed version of Mommy Dionisia be investigated for corruption before she retired.
She rigged her decision in People’s Graftwatch of Iloilo versus Jaime Esmeralda, et al. She entrusted the investigation to Roderick Blazo who was barely four months at the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas to probe the “ghost” repair of two strips of roads in Igbaras, Iloilo in 2004.
The regravelling of the roads stretching more than six kilometers was budgeted P1 million, P250,000 of which was for the installation of culverts for drainage.
The project was implemented in April 2004. Blazo inspected it November, seven months after. He went to confirm but finding traces of implementation, shifted from ghost project yarn to substandard performance.
At the hearing at the Sandiganbayan, Blazo was torn to pieces during cross- examinations where he proved himself quack investigator.
To recall, he held respondents liable for the following reasons: (a) some portions of the roads measured only 3.6 to 3.9 meters, short of five-meter width “standard”; (b) some sections had no surface materials while others had too much of them, while those that had them, were less than one-inch thick; (c) the municipal treasurer and the private secretary to the mayor signed the acceptance and inspection report (AIR) when they were “not qualified” to do so, and (d) the municipal engineer was unaware of the project implementation.
Virginia Palanca Santiago, a moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong is as revolting as her look, should also be held liable for this travesty of justice.
Blazo ignored the programs of works prepared by municipal engineer Anastacio Escobido. He ignored Section 118 of the Commission on Audit (COA) new manual for auditing for local government units that provides that delivered materials are to be accepted first by the general services officer, or by the municipal treasurer as the case may be, before they are to be inspected by a duly authorized officer in a form called AIR or “acceptance and inspection report”.
A counsel asked Blazo to read a portion of the COA audit report that found no irregularity in the project and the portion where the COA queried Escobido why some portions of the roads had no sand and gravel while others had too much and why others had surface materials less than one-inch thick.
The latter explained that the nature of the roads so required uneven distribution of filling materials as some sectioned needed more fillings.
Blazo insisted that Escobido was “unaware” of the implementation but could not extract an affidavit from him because the latter was “scared”. He admitted the roads were barangay and carved out of hill or mountain sides which were prone to erosion.
Blazo ignored Escobido’s programs-of-works that specified an “aggregate base course” of only four meters, not five meters. Pressed further, he conceded that the roads could have already deteriorated from erosion when he inspected them.
He found other faults, like finding rocks bigger than the required size of two-inches in diameter and the poor compaction but a justice who must be knowledgeable in construction, cut him short.
The justice told the prosecutor, to paraphrase him: we are dealing here with dirt roads, how come your witness is talking about compaction and pebble-size specification?
This time, Blazo fabricated the use of rollers to compact the surface; the programs of works spelled out by the municipal engineer specified only graders to level the surface.
Quack investigator indeed who ignores those specified by the engineer. He is above the law, this rascal.