BY PET MELLLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Two employees accused for grave misconduct and dishonesty still remain jobless despite the order of the Ombudsman clearing them of any administrative liability.
Pio Elumba, accounting clerk, and Cynthia Cabanero, municipal treasurer, both of Igbaras, Iloilo, were kicked out of office August 2009 by order of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. They filed a motion for reconsideration January 9, 2009 which Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales granted in a resolution that reached the two on October 4, 2012.
They are supposed to be back to work by now. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Pelagio Apostol, Jr., deputy Ombudsman – Visayas sent separate orders on Igbaras mayor Vicente Escorpion Jr. to implement the Ombudsman’s decision, that is, reinstate the two employees.
Those orders remain unenforced to date. They fell on deaf ears. Escorpion continues to defy the DILG and the Ombudsman. Here’s one instance where a local chief executive mocks the law, specifically, higher offices like the DILG and the Ombudsman and still gets away with it.
Such arrogance reminds us of one self-style graft-buster who can mimic a lawyer to the fault, especially the fault. BFF is one of the ring leaders responsible for filing the trumped-up charge in 2004 against Igbaras Mayor James Esmeralda, the latter’s subordinates Cabanero and Elumba for “ghost” road repair project.
His group gathered thick wads of affidavits where affiants deny having seen sand and gravel and heavy equipment spreading them along Kinagdan-Mulangan road, and Cale-Indaluyon road from January 2004 through May 2004. The sworn statements were lifted from a single template, verbatim except the names and personal circumstances of the affiants.
The Ombudsman sent a team of quack investigators to the scene led by Virginia Palanca-Santiago, brandishing the non-existent title “assistant ombudsman”, and Roderick Blazo. They saw piles of sand and gravel, steel bars, bags of cement and pipe culverts for drainage along Cale-Indaluyon road, that would have sufficed to trash the ghost project yarn.
Virginia Palanca-Santiago and Roderick Blazo wanted their victims convicted at all cost, so they rigged their decision by fabricating a rule that since neither Cabanero nor Elumba were licensed engineers, they committed a crime for signing the acceptance and inspection reports. They ignored Section 118 of the New Accounting and Auditing Manual for Local Government Units promulgated by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Section 118 expressedly allows the municipal treasurer, in the absence of a general services officer (GSO) to accept deliveries of orders, and a person duly authorized by the mayor, like Elumba, to inspect the delivered items, which should be accomplished in the document called “acceptance and inspection report” (AIR).
Esmeralda was reelected which, ground for his exoneration from any administrative liability.
Palanca-Santiago retired despite two or three charges against her for misconduct including that filed by her immediate superior Apostol for usurping the latter’s authority.
The facts of Apostol’s complaint: Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr (Iloilo, 5th district) released P1 million to resurface a road. Somebody sued him for “substandard” implementation. Apostol dismissed the complaint because Tupas was only the source of fund and had no hand in its implementation.
Palanca-Santiago “reviewed” Apostol’s recommendation, and ordered Tupas to answer the complaint that was earlier dismissed by her boss.
Back to the infamous Esmeralda case: Escorpion’s intransigence is a slap on the face of the Ombudsman, notably, Apostol and Carpio-Morales. Disobedience to the orders or directives of the Ombudsman is a ground for administrative sanction, reads Section 26 of Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act.
The victims of the trumped charges filed by the charlatans masquerading as graft busters already see light at the end of the channel. They are just unfortunate that Escorpion and his gang are holding back.
BFF, one of them, stands for “Bar Flunker Forever”. He was fired from a government office on social welfare. His superior, dissatisfied with his performance, did not renew his contract. The agency still haunts him because he failed to surrender a laptop computer assigned to him. May he land in the list of bar passers when the results are released next year. That makes him great lawyer because he reviewed five times.
For the time being, I advise his victims cleared by Ombudsman to continue timing-in and out of the town hall. They have nothing to lose but their chain.