BOPK leaders’ ‘indiscretions’-A A +A
Friday, September 14, 2012
IN TIMES like this, some people must be missing former assistant ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago. I watched anchor Leo Lastimosa interview Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol on TV patrol last Thursday and I too felt like something was amiss in his response to questions re: the complaint against Rep. Tomas Osmeña. It lacked tons of punch.
Apostol speaks English with an Ilongo accent, just like Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
But his is closer to a monotone, although that’s not the problem. “Ma’am Virgie” on the other hand is a fast talker and more animated, which made her a better communicator of Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas actions to the public before she retired.
Not only that. She cultivated a public image of being honest and aggressive, which could not be said of Apostol. He has been blamed, sometimes unfairly, for the failure of the anti-graft office to fast-track the resolution of major cases involving some local government officials, especially under the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
His announcement of the start of his office’s probe on Osmeña therefore sounded less forceful than if it was uttered by Palanca-Santiago. “Wala kaming pinapaboran. Basta lumabag sa batas, imbestigaain natin,” told Sun.Star Cebu in a separate interview.
Reading that in newspapers the other day, I had this urge to blurt out, “Bantay baya, ha?”
Still, we should give Apostol the benefit of the doubt. For one, a different situation is prevailing now. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino is president. The Ombudsman is no longer Merceditas “Mercy” Gutierrez but Conchita Carpio-Morales. And “matuwid na daan” is the current byword. This, I would say, should push Apostol to do better.
The Osmeña case is admittedly a test of the independence of the anti-graft body. The former mayor is an Osmeña, and the most combative of the lot. He is among the supporters of the administration Liberal Party in Cebu City. And he is close to the party’s top man, incoming Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Mar Roxas.
But the complaint against Osmeña is also a serious one, something that goes into the very heart of the Aquino administration’s “matuwid na daan” template. While the questionable act was committed starting in 2009 (the tail-end of Arroyo’s rule), or when Bigfoot’s Michael Gleissner announced his intention to donate to the city the two Dodge Chargers, the entire process played out through the current administration.
This is, therefore, no longer about the “sins” committed by minions of the previous administration but involves a supporter of the present one. Will the anti-graft office be able to make a good account of itself?
Incidentally, will the issue also affect Osmeña’s bid to defeat Mayor Michael Rama in May elections next year? Note that this is not the only controversy that has hit the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) in recent months. Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa, who is gunning for a congressional post in the south district, has been battling conflict of interest accusations for his participation in the implementation of the city’s scholarship program.
Will the “indiscretions” of its leaders finally catch up with the BOPK?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 15, 2012.