What stings most in lamps mess-A A +A
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
IT WAS grossly irregular that powerful persons in Manila, who initiated and contracted P403 million street lamps for the 2007 Asean Summit in Metro Cebu, were excluded from charges lodged with the Sandiganbayan.
The masterminds were smart enough not to leave fingerprints on the evidence and wielded clout with the Ombudsman. LGU and DPWH regional officials signed the papers, their roles sealed: they were the ones dragged to court.
It was also strongly suspicious that special prosecutors didn't spot the supposed flaw before they filed the cases. One of seven complaints was dismissed last Jan. 17, letting off an ex-mayor and 12 other accused because of the defect.
The Visayas deputy ombudsman insists all the papers were in records sent up, nothing missing, and their evidence was strong.
Whom to believe: Cebu investigators or Manila prosecutors who admitted the error or omission before the court?
We condemn the getaway of bigger fish as well as the bungling in the prosecution.
But what must outrage the public, especially Cebuanos who saw the evidence of greed and waste, was that after all the time investigators and prosecutors took to prepare for the trial, they couldn't prove the most basic and blatant: the hugely bloated pricing.
Overpricing was never disputed then. Street vendors and pedestrians, looking at the lampposts, knew the prices were thickly padded. Local officials were so embarrassed at the sight of the monument to corruption, they had the fixtures removed.
And state prosecutors couldn't prove the overprice. That stings most.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 31, 2013.