BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Who foots the bill to pay the salaries and back wages of reinstated employees earlier ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman?
To be more precise, who pays the current and back wages of two employees of Igbaras, Iloilo now that the Omdudsman trashed the memorandum of dismissal recommended by a subordinate?
Reinstated employees later found innocent by the Ombudsman are entitled to receive all their back wages and benefits. The duty to pay is not on the lap of the reckless officer now retired assistant ombudsman for the Visayas, Virginia Palanca-Santiago who rigged her evaluation of facts and the law.
She and investigator Roderick Blazo who misinvestigated the two and Igbaras mayor Jaime Esmeralda, are not liable to pay their victims’ unpaid emoluments. That responsibility falls on government, in this case, the municipality of Igbaras.
And there is hardly any way to recover from Palanca-Santiago who already retired last July 17, with all benefits despite two pending administrative complaints leveled against her, one filed by her immediate superior Pelagio Apostol, Jr. for usurpation, and the other by Lapu-Lapu Rep. Arturo Radaza for grave misconduct of accrediting misfits in the people’s graftwatch.
Palanca-Santiago retired with full benefits, including commuted leave credits of P4 million plus which she got in full because for 16 years that she served the office, she had perfect attendance, no absence nor tardiness. She did not get sick in all those years. My foot!
Cabanero and Elumba, fired from service August 2009 for “grave misconduct” and “dishonesty”, got a reprieve when Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales granted their motion for reconsideration and thrashed the rigged evaluation of Palanca-Santiago.
Carpio-Morales approved the favorable resolution May yet, copies of which reached Palanca-Santiago’s victims on October 4.
The two victims of Palanca-Santiago’s recklessness are entitled to get their accumulated salaries starting August 2009 until the day they are reinstated. The two, following the doctrine of “Samaniego vs Ombudsman”, were dismissed from service forthrightly, that is, “immediately” while their motion for reconsideration was pending.
Their sins, if any: they signed the acceptance and inspection reports (AIR) in the P1 million road repair in Igbaras, Iloilo in April 2004 that Palanca-Santiago and her smart investigator Roderick Blazo ruled as “ghost”.
We have a pair of clowns here proven as such by Ombudsman Carpio-Morales who maintains that the two victims of gross injustice did it right in signing the AIR pursuant to Section 118 of the COA accounting manual for local government units.
That in effect, shot down the rule fabricated by Palanca-Santiago and Blazo that since Cabanero and Elumba were no engineers, they acted illegally when they signed the AIR.
Carpio-Morales’s resolution further shamed Palanca-Santiago and Blazo by thumbing down the duo’s conclusion that the project indeed was “ghost”. The facts proving their victims’ innocence were written right in the report of Blazo that Santiago parroted – the concrete culverts, bags of cement, steel bars and aggregates on the roadside. Instead of treating that as proof of delivery, the Santiago-Blazo cabal invented yet another offense, this time, their victims neglected to install the materials in the drainage canal, a conclusion done with crass ignorance because they blamed the municipal treasurer and accounting clerk when the person incharge of that was the municipal engineer.
Anastacio Escobido, the municipal engineer, was spared from the rap for the lame excuse that he was on the side of the political bloc opposed to then Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, a co-accused with Cabanero and Elumba. The prosecution presented him as witness at the hearing before the Sandiganbayan where he proffered two conflicting testimonies: on the first day, he narrated that the project was substandard in implementation. The next day, he insisted there was no implementation and delivery of materials at all.
Escobido shuddered and lost his voice in the cross examination on the second day at the witness stand where he admitted that the task of installing concrete culverts on the drainage canal was his, not the victims’ of rigged decision of Palanca-Santiago. That, in effect, saved the victims and knocked out Palanca-Santiago and Blazo who faulted their victims and not the municipal engineer, for the uninstalled culverts.