One small step, a giant leap for justice

The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas is set to conduct the preliminary investigation into my complaint that a P13.5-million contract funded from the pork barrel of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon for the development of the Iloilo Esplanade was anomalous.
On Wednesday, I received a letter from the just-retired Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelayo Apostol informing me that a fact-finding investigation done by Ombudsman graft investigators in Iloilo City has been upgraded into a formal charge for criminal and administrative offenses.
The cases, docketed as OMB-V-C-14-0489 and OMB-V-A-14-0347, primarily involves Edilberto Tayao, regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the chairman and members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).
Apostol’s letter did not mention Senate President Drilon who was listed in my complaint.
A check with the Office of the Ombudsman elicited information that the cases are entitled, “OMB-RO6 and Manuel Mejorada versus Edilberto Tayao, et al.”
For me, the upgrading of my complaint into a formal charge is a giant leap for justice.
I wish to highlight that the Office of the Ombudsman, Region VI, has filed this as co-complainant.
What does this mean? It demolishes the defense of the Senate President who said that the anomalies were just “a figment of my imagination”.
After I filed this complaint on September 10, 2013, no less than Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the anti-graft body’s investigators to determine whether it had legal and factual basis.
I was told that Ombudsman Morales gave this instruction in a hand-written note on my complaint.
The report of the fact-finding team validated my charges that the items of work stated in the project’s contract were “ghost” or non-existent.
This is enough vindication for me. The complaint is based on facts. The award of the contract was anomalous. Public funds were squandered.

Now, it’s not just me talking, but the Ombudsman Region VI as well.
But it will not, and must not, end there. It should proceed to the next step, which is an indictment of the public officials involved in this corruption.

For a background on this case, you can read this previous post:

https://manuelboymejorada.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/down-the-drain/

Fight it or perish (A letter from Bishop Socrates Villegas in 2008)

(This is a letter written by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas when he was still Bishop of Balanga, Bataan on November 27, 2008. It has taken nearly five years before Filipinos have awakened to the truth about how graft and corruption has devoured so much of our lives and caused untold suffering of our people. I am reproducing it below for everybody to ponder upon.)

FIGHT IT OR PERISH!

Fighting Graft and Corruption

To steal is wrong. It is a crime. It is a sin. When stealing is done by those high up in power and authority, it carries a greater culpability. The corruption of the best is the worst. The social problem of graft and corruption in public life in our country has reached abominable and embarrassing proportions. How shall we describe graft and corruption in our country? It is systemic. It is rewarding. It hurts the poor the most.

Graft and corruption is systemic and structural. It is not only individual or isolated persons who corrupt and get corrupted. The present system—the elected and the electors, the employers and the employees, the appointed and the appointing powers—has become so corrupt that what we do need is a radical, systemic, interior change. Changing personages through the electoral process or even through legal processes like impeachment and court suits will not necessarily result in reform unless there is a willingness to change from the heart and soul. Pinning our hopes on legal processes unaccompanied by conversion from within will lead us to nowhere but deeper frustrations. We can hear the protest “Tama na. Sobra na. Alis na. Kami naman!”. It is important that those who investigate or prosecute corrupt officials will not gain political or financial benefits from convicting or absolving the accused.

Graft and corruption is rewarding and rewarded. It is hardly punished. The politicization of the judiciary and the perennial rumors about rogues in robes are problems we need to address urgently. Vigilance is lacking. Political will is weak. Prosecution plays favorites. The penal system is flawed. Pardon and clemency is cheap. Among our people, there is an increasing level of tolerance for corrupt officials. Corruption does not seem to anger many of us anymore. We are not outraged enough by graft and corruption. Widespread graft has sadly numbed our morals.

The public money that goes to graft is money stolen from the poor. Because of graft and corruption, school buildings cannot be constructed and teachers are not paid; public hospitals cannot protect us from untimely death; soldiers are deprived of their just wages.

Our biggest problem in our country is graft and corruption. This problem must be faced courageously now. We are risking the life of our nation if we continue to ignore it. I appeal to the consciences of our countrymen. Do not leave the solution of graft and corruption to corrupt officials. Our problem cannot be our solution. Let us come together as Catholic faithful to fight the sin of graft and corruption. We cannot profess faith in God and not get angry at widespread graft and corruption. Faith in God and outrage at sin go together. Outrage is not enough; it must lead to action. If we are not outraged by the sin of stealing happening all over our once beautiful land, could it be that our faith has turned cold and uncaring? If your faith has turned cold and uncaring, how can you be saved? Fight corruption or lose your soul!

I place this appeal at the feet of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

From the Cathedral of Saint Joseph , Balanga City , November 27, 2008

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Bishop of Balanga

When will you respond?

Encroachment on the Iloilo River

Encroachment on the Iloilo River

Two years ago, Senator Franklin Drilon and Jed Mabilog made a big fuss about conducting a survey of the original metes and bounds of the Iloilo river. It was supposed to determine the encroachments made by private land owners on the river, which is public property. Nothing ever came out of that survey. Now, Drilon and Mabilog are leading a government project to encroach on the river to build a new Esplanade going towards the property of Mabilog in Tap-oc Molo! It costs P33 million just for the reclamation. Another monument of corruption.

Another view from a Bridge

Another view from a Bridge

This is the much-ballyhooed Esplanade in Iloilo City as viewed from the Carpenter Bridge in Molo. This is the reverse view of the previous post showing a squatter colony on the other side of the bridge.

View from a Bridge

View from a Bridge

The ugly sight of informal shanties beside the Iloilo River in Molo, Iloilo City greet tourists who pass through the Carpenters Bridge. This photo was taken from atop the bridge. Once you turn your back, you will see the splendor of the overpriced Esplanade, which is being peddled as the number one attraction of the city. This squatter colony was supposed to have been removed and relocated more than a year ago. Another example of the unfulfilled promises of the Mabilog administration.