Anti-graft office’s incompetence-A A +A
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
ANTI-CORRUPTION day was observed last Monday and, in keeping with the celebration, a rally spearheaded by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas and attended by a cross-section of the community especially government employees, was held at the armed forces
Central Command compound.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol urged all stakeholders to fight corruption in the government as it is the cause of all evils, is a hindrance to the country's economic growth and is the cause of extreme poverty. Extreme poverty degrades a person's dignity and basic fundamental rights.
He asked the public to report wrongdoings committed by public officials, especially politicians. “Our anti-corruption task could not be done without the convergence of efforts. We need you,” he said.
There is no problem with public participation in fighting corruption, as there are concerned individuals very much involved in it. Media is also doing its share in exposing anomalies in the government.
But even if there is active participation by all stakeholders, what can the public do if government agencies like the Commission on Audit and the Ombudsman are lousy in its investigations? The delay in resolving cases discourages the public from joining anti-corruption campaigns.
I will just mention two much-publicized cases being investigated by the Ombudsman that until now have not yet been resolved.
Mayor Michael Rama filed a case for graft and corruption against his political mentor-turned-political-archrival Tomas Osmeña for accepting two imported Dodge vehicles from Michael Gleissner, owner of Big Foot, which has a lease agreement with the Cebu City government for the use of a lot at the South Road Properties (SRP).
Osmeña and his wife Margot, in earlier interviews, admitted that Gleissner personally gave the two vehicles to Tomas when he was still the mayor. Apparently thinking that he may be held criminally liable for accepting the vehicles being a public official, Tomas later claimed that these were bought by his multi-millionaire sister, Minnie.
Bringing with him voluminous documents, Rama filed a case with the Ombudsman against Tomas last year but until now the case has not moved, thanks to the inefficiency of the anti-graft office.
If you also recall, several sacks of smuggled rice confiscated by the Bureau of Customs were pilfered while in the custody of the bureau in its warehouse at the north reclamation area sometime in July this year.
The Ombudsman came into the picture with Apostol himself saying that his office will investigate and resolve the case within 60 days. It has been five months since they investigated the case and until now they have not come up with a resolution. That's how they work.
This is not to mention the case about overpricing in the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) and other issues the anti-graft office investigated.
If you are a concerned citizen willing to help this government fight graft and corruption, wouldn’t you be discouraged with the snail pace of the investigations conducted by the Ombudsman? It took the office nine years to resolve the case of former governor John Gregory Osmeña on the Perdido Lex foundation anomaly.
So the next time Apostol opens his mouth by urging the public to help his office fight corruption, he should assess first the performance of his office because the problem can be found there.
What is its batting average in resolving cases? The usual alibis that we hear are that the office lacks personnel and that its graft investigators have resigned or have been transferred to other government agencies or have gone to law practice.
Incompetent, inefficient, lousy. That's how I describe this office. And it would reflect on the leadership of Apostol. You better go home to your home province in Capiz, Mr. Apostol.
By the way, is it true that one of Apostol's people has been collecting his salary while doing nothing? I got this information from an Ombudsman insider. Is this true?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 12, 2013.