Mark Jalandoni quits as Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon

The resignation of Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni is a reason for jubilation for Filipinos who want to see his boss, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, removed from office. It is a signal that convulsions inside the agency are becoming so strong even her own right hand man has decided to jump ship even before her impeachment trial could begin next month. Jalandoni is known to be the real power behind Gutierrez, a handpicked man of the former First Couple, to make sure things move as they desired in the country’s anti-graft agency.

Jalandoni’s resignation came in the heels of three complaints over his usurpation of authority and abuse of discretion in dismissing cases, a prerogative that belongs to the Ombudsman or, in her absence, the Over-all Deputy Ombudsman. A spokesman for the Office of the Ombudsman said Jalandoni chose to resign rather than face the administrative case “to spare the Ombudsman from the controversy”.

Jalandoni was appointed to the position on March 8, 2010, the last day before the election bad on appointments took effect. It was a clear midnight appointment. The papers were doctored to make it appear it was signed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before the prohibition took effect. But documents I had obtained showed that the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) submitted its ranking list for the candidates for the position to the Office of the Executive Secretary at 2:58 p.m. on March 8, 2010. Those who understand how the bureaucratic mill grinds know that it usually takes two or three days before it lands on the desk of the Executive Secretary.

The date “March 8, 2011” is handwritten on the top portion of Jalandoni’s appointment, an indication that it was issued at a later date, but only made to appear to have beaten the deadline. Otherwise, his appointment papers would have taken a bullet train across the bureaucracy, which would still be an indication the appointing power had made up her mind before the JBC short-list was submitted. Incidentally, Jalandoni wasn’t even number one on the list. The top-ranked candidate was Director Roque Dator of the Field Investigation Office. But Jalandoni was already the sidekick of Gutierrez, and he was elevated to the position of Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon to make sure he effectively filtered the big-time graft cases. All cases filed against Cabinet secretaries and generals land on his desk.

Jalandoni was the “hatchet-man” of Gutierrez. He did the dirty job of sweeping the filth of Arroyo’s plundering cohorts to make sure they stayed out of jail. He was also responsible for crafting decisions to harass and oppress known enemies of the previous administration. No other man wielded so much power as Mark Jalandoni inside the agency. He rose above Orlando Casimiro, the Over-all Deputy Ombudsman. He was the most trusted man of Gutierrez; insiders describe him as the only person who could make the beleaguered Ombudsman laugh during tense moments.

Why was Jalandoni so powerful? He wasn’t handpicked by the former occupants of the Palace from nowhere. The middle-aged lawyer is the son of Julio “Boy” Jalandoni, the reputed bag-man of the Arroyos. He is now the jueteng lord of Negros Occidental. A few months ago, I wrote an investigative piece about Boy Jalandoni being in the top 100 stockholders of blue-chip companies like Ayala Land Inc., Globe and Jollibee. The Jalandonis of Jaro were rich, but certainly not that rich. Clearly, Boy Jalandoni held those investments — worth billions of pesos — for somebody else. I don’t have to tell you who that somebody is.

That is the connection that Mark Jalandoni enjoyed to have landed such a powerful position. His sudden departure will demoralize Gutierrez. Her back-up man abandoned ship before she could even start to face trial. This resignation will rattle and shake the agency like a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. And this will hasten the discovery of more anomalies in the previous administration.

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.

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