Ombudsman is a big-time protection racket


About a year ago, a high-ranking official of the Ombudsman from Manila visited me at the Iloilo Capitol to obtain my affirmation of the graft charges I had filed against Augusto Boboy Syjuco, Judy Jalbuena Syjuco, et al regarding the P6.2 million ghost purchase of 1,582 units of Nokia 1100 cellular phones purportedly for a communication system in the 2nd district of Iloilo.

I was filled with excitement as this official revealed that his unit’s investigation validated my findings that Syjuco had orchestrated this ghost purchase using funds from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) by having the signature of then Sta. Barbara town mayor Isabelo Maquino on the invoice property receipt to make it appear that the cell phone units had been delivered.

This Ombudsman official also interviewed Mayor Maquino to confirm the forgery of his signature. Mayor Maquino was then asked to execute an affidavit on the matter to be made part and parcel of the case that was in the final stages before being submitted to his superiors. There was no stopping the filing of the case, the official told me.

Nothing happened since then. At that stage, the investigation work was all but finished, and a review of the findings and recommendations should really have taken more than a week. Apparently, the case got buried in the growing pile of graft cases that only gather dust in the records store room of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. If Gutierrez was serious about eradicating corruption, that case would have made a good example.

That cell phone anomaly case created a big uproar in Iloilo. But the Syjucos just hunkered down, and the issue died a natural death. It died with the inaction, apparently deliberate, of the Ombudsman. It’s the latest of the frustrating battles I had fought against the corruption of Boboy Syjuco. Previous cases I had filed against him, including one pertaining to the fertilizer fund scam, have either been dismissed “for failure to prove his involvement” or simply slept in the backrooms of the agency.

Knowing how Syjuco operates, I can surmise that these cases suffered from the same fate as the many other scandals that are now hogging the headlines — the Ligot and Garcia ill-gotten wealth controversies, among others. The Ombudsman is a big-time protection racket where graft cases against clear plunderers and thieves in government are just swept under the rug, obviously for a fee. Such protection isn’t cheap. Through the grapevine, I was told each “areglo” is worth millions of pesos, depending on the gravity of the case.

But I am not totally unhappy. Now, Gutierrez is being hailed before the House justice committee to account for her alleged malfeasances. This is the revenge of the entire Filipino people who were deprived of the services of a true Ombudsman. She sold the Filipino people to the plunderers; she will have to pay for that sin.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

4 Responses to Ombudsman is a big-time protection racket

  1. pet melliza says:

    Contrast the slothfullness of the Ombudsman in your case to that of the mysterious haste with which they did in the case of People’s Graftwatch of Iloilo, Inc. vs Jaime Esmeralda, et al.

    It happened in 2005 with Virginia Palanca-Santiago, then deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas steering the Visayas boat. Even before she received the reply from the respondents, she already prejudged the complaint as “strong” in evidence and ordered the respondents preventively suspended for six months.

    The complainants charged Esmeralda et al for the “ghost road repair” project worth P1 million. The main evidence presented by them were thick wads of affidavits lifted from a single template all alleging that the affiants denying having seen delivered sand and gravel, nor heavy equipment delivering and grading them.

    Virginia Palanca-Santiago skirted COA findings that there were traces of implementation. She did not even factor in the fact that her investigator came to inspect the site only five months after. Even his own report showed signs of implementation like the presence of bags of cement, steel bars and concrete culverts but she shifted theory midstream holding the respondents guilty nevertheless for substandard implementation and gross neglect that led to the deterioration of the bags of cement, steel bars and concrete culverts. She did not even explain why and how the materials deteriorated.

    My column “Virginia Palanca-Santiago’s Exercise of Raw Power” is already in the 23rd series which can be read in

  2. pet melliza says:

    actually, vVrginia Palanca-Santiago was then “acting deputy ombudsman for the Visayas”. she is currently the assistant ombudsman for the visayas and the Western Visayas director of the same office.

    The deputy ombudsman for the Visayas now is Pelagio Apostol, mortal enemy of Virginia Palanca-Santiago

  3. A review of the Ombudsman law is necessary. Our legislators will have to strengthen the investigation arm of the Ombudsman. It has to work closely with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). From personal experience, the Ombudsman expects complainants like me to present proof beyond reasonable doubt against malefactors in government, when the investigation aspect is basically its job. It must also develop a capability to separate important from mundane cases. It has to focus on the big cases and really drive home the message that corruption does not pay. As it is, the Ombudsman deserves a rating of FAILURE, and this is the reason Merceditas Gutierrez will have to be impeached.

  4. Tony Mariano says:

    What can you expect from an office that cannot even implement its Red Plate program against abuse of government vehicles, which is a very easy program to carry out given its mandate and the perceived “fear” of government officials/personnel of said office. But, more than two years ago after its launching, you still see government motor vehicles in bars, night clubs, church, malls and markets ferrying its thick-faced officials, wives, children and other hangers-on unrestricted, when the law is very clear that government vehicles shall be used for official purposes only. I doubt if a trip tricket is even prepared for those decidedly unofficial trips! It’s really frustrating when you see these officals and relatives flaunting their ‘importance”. while most of us have to elbow our way to catch a packed tricycle to reach one’s destination!

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