A salute to Director Santiago-A A +A
Monday, July 16, 2012
JUST because I’m an opinion maker and a radio commentator doesn’t mean everything I say about public officials and employees is negative. I don’t have the mindset that all who work for the government are inept or corrupt because I know of some government officials, including a few politicians, who are dedicated and honest. I will criticize those who engage in shenanigans, but I’m also quick to commend and admire those who do good deeds.
One such public official is Ombudsman Director Viginia Palanca-Santiago, who is bowing out from government service today on her 65th birthday.
Since transferring to Cebu from Zamboanga City, where I started my broadcast-journalism profession in 1987, I have followed the career of Ma’am Virgie from her stint at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office to her current position at the anti-graft office.
Ma’am Virgie is the kind of government official who is dedicated and passionate in her work. She adheres to the highest standards of professionalism; an ideal public official. Of course, her integrity and credibility are beyond question, considering her position is very sensitive.
The temptation is always there. She has been the subject of my commentaries, especially when it came to the slow pace of investigation of some controversial cases. But she would always explain why this was so and took my commentaries in a positive way. She is not onion-skinned.
When she was with the prosecutor’s office, Ma’am Virgie focused on her work. No office intrigues or intramurals unlike in the current crop of lady prosecutors who quarrel like cats and dogs. Maybe they fight because of professional jealousy or personal matters. Magcontest lang na sila diha karon og paguwapahay.
Director Santiago will leave government service today with a clean record, a legacy that she can leave to her family and to the public. It’s just sad to note that she never had the chance to head the office. When she applied for the position of deputy ombudsman for the Visayas, she didn’t approach and solicit the backing up of a politician.
In fact, I remember asking her in one of our radio interviews: “Who is your backer, Ma’am Virgie?” She answered: “God is my back, Bob.” I told her point blank: “Ma’am Virgie, mas gamhanan ra ba ang mga pulitiko kay sa Ginoo kung appointment ang estoryahan.” She never got the position. The rest is history.
I just wish you good luck, Ma’am Virgie. You can still help a lot of people even if you are a private and ordinary citizen as Atty. Virginia Palanca-Santiago.
My kumpadre, businessman Rey Calooy, a staunch supporter of President Noynoy Aquino III, informed me through a text message that lawyer Eufemia Bacalso, daughter of former education officer Atty. Marcelo Bacalso, has been designated by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales as acting director. I don’t know her personally, but I heard a little about her track record. She has been with the anti-graft office for quite some time as a senior graft investigator.
She investigated the Perdido Lex Foundation scam of the Provincial Government, which led to the filing of criminal charges against former vice governor John Gregory “John-john” Osmeña and members of the bogus foundation. Attorney Bacalso is not a stranger to the workings in the office.
I hope she can effectively supervise and manage the office like Ma’am Virgie did. Good luck.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 16, 2012.