Fighting corruption

Sometime in 2007, I wrote a long letter to then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez decrying the inaction of the anti-graft agency on the complaints I had filed against Boboy Syjuco. In an attempt to touch the conscience of Gutierrez, I ended the letter with words from Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa”, that I feared the cases “will just lie there, and they die there.”

To my great, and pleasant, surprise, none of the cases died. They did lay there quite long, but they refused to die. Four months ago, I learned from a senior graft investigator of the Ombudsman that all six complaints I had filed were being pursued. All were found to have factual and legal basis. They just needed to be reinforced with evidence.

I guess fighting corruption has become a vocation for me. I am committed to pursue a lifelong mission fighting corruption.

This is the reason I’ve been relentless in filing cases against City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog. It’s not for any other reason than that I have vowed to fight corruption. It’s not about politics. It’s about putting a stop to greed and thievery in government.

For me, uncovering official wrongdoing is meaningless unless those involved are held accountable. In the past, the scandal of an expose is more than enough to deter public officials from corruption. Not anymore. Just like deadly virus, the corrupt have “mutated”, and have developed thick hide. So thick that even President Noynoy Aquino was so exasperated with them in his SONA last Monday: “saan po kayo kumukuha ng kapal na mukha?”

A good investigative journalist can expose dozens of cases involving graft and corruption these days and still be doing no good. Digging and exposing instances of corruption is good; but it has to lead to prosecutions and convictions.

This is the credo I’m now following as I pursue the cases of corruption I’ve filed before the Ombudsman. It’s not that I hate Mabilog personally. Really, it’s nothing personal. It’s my job as it has evolved. I learned from experience that corrupt officials grow bolder and bolder with each instance of graft. They gain more courage to test the limits of their ability to fleece public funds from the treasury.

I feel encouraged about how the Syjuco cases have turned out. Six cases are humming in the beehive of the Ombudsman as investigators track down the leads I’ve laid down and gather more evidence.  I am determined to pursue the Mabilog cases with the same intensity, or even more.

The experience I’ve had with Syjuco has taught me valuable lessons. It’s a good thing I worked in the capitol and became a member of the Bids and Awards Committee. Now I have an excellent understanding of the mechanisms for government procurement. It became easier for me to spot the irregularities.

This can be a thankless job. A lonely one, too. But I feel I owe it to the people to do everything to safeguard their welfare. The poverty in the country has worsened because of corruption. The book, “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty”, established the connection between poverty and corruption.

President Aquino is right: we have to eradicate corruption if we want to lift the poor from the bowels of poverty. In my own little way, I’ll help him achieve that goal. I don’t need him to recognize me. At this time, all I’m asking from him is that he doesn’t protect the corrupt the way the previous administration did.

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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