At a snail’s pace-A A +A
Sunday, March 3, 2013
REPUBLIC Act (RA) 6770, the law creating the Office of the Ombudsman, gives the anti-graft office awesome power to investigate and prosecute on its own or in response to a complaint by any person any act or omission by any public officer or employee, office or agency when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.
It has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction it may take over at any stage from any agency of government on the investigation of such cases (Section15(1) of RA 6770 and Section13(2), Article X1, 1987 Constitution).
It cannot be denied that there have been cases, especially graft and corruption investigated and successfully prosecuted by the office, which resulted to convictions.
But sometimes we get also frustrated by its investigation that proceeds at a snail’s pace in some cases.
What happened to the case against Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) on the “donation” of two imported Dodge Charger vehicles by Bigfoot management to the City in his last term as mayor? Instead of turning over the vehicles to the City Government when Michael Rama took over as mayor, Tomas used these personally.
When exposed in the media, the honorable congressman “manufactured” documents showing that his sister Minnie Osmeña Stuart and nephew Paolo bought it from Michael Gleissner, Bigfoot chief. The vehicles had “Cebu City Police” markings, which Tomas had repainted, and a siren.
It was the camp of Rama that filed the complaint before the Ombudsman-Visayas last September. But until now the case has not been resolved. Rama has written Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for an update on the case. The mayor expressed his frustration over the delay of the resolution. What is taking the ombudsman so long to resolve the case? Did it encounter difficulties in securing evidences?
All the ombudsman has to do is to determine if indeed those vehicles were donated to the City Government. If it can establish that then its next move is to establish that Tomas personally used the vehicles.
On Tomas’s claim that the vehicles were acquired by Minnie, then the graft investigator handling the case should summon the Land Transportation Office to submit all pertinent documents on the transfer of ownership.
Tomas claimed that Paolo bought one of the vehicles from Gleissner but the transaction took place in Manila.
The issue is not so complicated and not too technical to investigate unlike the ombudsman’s probe on the Cebu International Convention Center. But why, six months after it was filed, has the anti-graft office not resolved the issue? Is it afraid of Tomas? Or it is because he is allied with the powers that be? Can we hear an explanation from Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol on this matter?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 04, 2013.