By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
That’s an apt “kinaray-a” term for Virginia Palanca-Santiago, who before she retired last July, was “assistant ombudsman” for the Visayas, a non-existing post in the Ombudsman Act.
It means “reckless” or “thoughtless” act. In “cebuano” it is “pataka” or “pasagad”. The term applies as well to her sidekick, Roderick Blazo, titled “graft investigator” but should better be called “quack investigator”.
That virtue though is not the monopoly of Quack Investigator and Nuestra Senora de Patarasak, with apologies to columnist Peter Jimenea who coined and lodged the term for an official in Iloilo City. The modifier aptly fits as well to a pack of charlatans masquerading as graftbusters led by a perpetual bar flunker and a cleric whose looks reminds us of our simian past.
Rev. Simian, Mr. Barflunker, Bik Agila et al. haled to the ombudsman in February 2005 Igbaras mayor Jaime Esmeralda, municipal treasurer Cynthia Cabanero and private secretary to the mayor, Pio Elumba for “pocketing” P1 million for not repairing two stretches of roads, “ghost project” they called it.
Earlier, in November 8, 2004, Q. Investigator and S. Patarasak came to town, spent three hours inspecting the roads and agreed with Charlatans that the road rehab was indeed “ghost”. In support of their conclusion, Simian, Barflunker and Bik Agila handed them a bundle of affidavits – all identical save for the personal circumstances of the affiants, and lifted from a single computer template that no heavy equipment ever delivered a single cubic meter of earth materials, construction materials and no machine ever spread sand and gravel on the roads in the first quarter of 2004.
The road rehab was done in April 2004; Q. Investigator and S. Patarasak came eight months later and both chorused with the charlatans that the roads were in the same conditions as in January 2004 because, like self-proclaimed “investigative reporter Kara David in her show “i-Witness”, no typhoon visited the mountain town, 40 kilometers south of Iloilo City, from April through November 2004 to damage the roads. My foot!
In March 2005, Esmeralda et al received an order from Ombudsman Visayas to answer the complaint filed by Rev. Simian. They filed their answers March 14. Two days later, they received the order from Cebu preventively suspending them for six months in response to the sworn statement of Bik Agila which was indorsed by Rev. Simian, that the former was under threat. (Agila, a member of the bar, did not specify the threats on him in his affidavit; neither did he seek police assistance nor record the threat in the PNP logbook. Neither did he hire a bodyguard.).
In other words, Esmeralda et al were preventively suspended two days after they mailed their answers, which were still in transitu as PhilPost’s registered mails from Iloilo take more than a week to reach Cebu. S. Patarasak did not bother to wait for their answers.
It was travesty of justice that Simian, Barflunker and Bik Agila engineered in cahoots with S. Patarasak and Q. Investigator. Though it was signed by Visayas boss-tsip Primo Miro, insiders said it was the handiwork of S. Patarasak herself. Miro was already too debilitated by illness by then that was triggered and aggravated by his extreme devotion to alcohol.
To ensure their victims’ damnation, S. Patarasak and Q. Investigator parroted the “ghost project” yarn and complemented it with “substandard implementation”.
To pin the two employees further, S. Patarasak and Quack Investigator preached that only engineers could sign “acceptance” of deliveries and “inspection” of the works, ignoring COA’s auditing manual’s Sec. 118 explicitly allowing their victims to do what they did.
Their memorandum dated February 15, 2007 fired Cabanero and Elumba, and recommended filing of criminal information with the Sandiganbayan on both plus Esmeralda. Ombudsman Merciless Merceditas (who resigned in disgrace in April 2011) approved the memorandum. Her office filed the information with the Sandiganbayan December 23, 2008, last work day of the year ushering the longest Yuletide holiday until January 5, 2009. Luckily, no arrest warrant was issued in the Holidays.
S. Patarasak had Cabanero and Elumba dismissed August 2009 despite their timely motion reconsideration.
There’s a rainbow at the end of the storm, goes a saying. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dismissed the administrative complaint, confirming that S. Patarasak and Q. Investigator deserve their monikers. The relief, dated May 31, reached the victims October 4. (to be continued)