Inefficient anti-graft office

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


DEPUTY Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol, in a press statement, said that he has the right to protect the image of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas as it is within the bound of his duty. This is in view of criticisms by the media about the supposed incompetence and inefficiency of the anti-graft office in resolving cases.

Well, nobody can question Apostol on that because that is his right. But before he opens his mouth, he should come up with something concrete. I admit that I am one of those, or maybe the only one, who criticized the Ombudsman both on radio and in print.

If Apostol cannot give categorical explanations to the issues I raised, he better shut up.

I used two high-profile cases as my basis to criticize the anti-graft office. In reaction, Apostol came up with a press statement that was published in Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

The first case is on the Dodge Charger vehicles that were donated by Michael Gleissner, owner of Bigfoot company, to the city.

When Osmeña was mayor, Bigfoot entered into a lease contract with the Cebu City Government to utilize a portion of the South Road Properties (SRP) for its film developing center. Tomas’s term was about to end when Gleissner donated those vehicles. But instead of turning them over to the city, Tomas personally used it, claiming the vehicles were bought by his sister, Minnie.

Mayor Michael Rama filed graft cases against Osmeña before the Ombudsman. If my memory serves me right, Rama filed that case sometime in August 2012. Apostol said that it was only on Dec. 13, 2013 that they forwarded their finding to their central office for final evaluation report and approval.

From August 2012 up to December 2013—that means it took them more than one year to investigative that case. And mind you, Rama presented voluminous documents to support his claim that Osmeña committed graft for personally using those vehicles.

Why did it take the anti-graft office more than one year to investigate the case?

Because their investigators were still looking for additional pieces of evidence?

Because they lack of manpower?

That's their usual alibi. But how would you describe an investigating agency reporting the result of a probe only after more than a year? For me, that is incompetence and inefficiency. That is snail-paced investigation. And what will happen to that case which is now in their central office? Will its resolution suffer another long delay?

The second case is the pilferage of confiscated rice stocked in a warehouse at the Cebu International Port (CIP). It happened sometime in July last year. When it came out in the media, Apostol said his office will investigate the case and come up with results within sixty days.

It has been more than seven months and the Ombudsman has still to come up with results.

Apostol is an Ilonggo. There is that joke that Ilonggos are “tikalon” (boastful). Tikal gali to imo, Mr. Apostol.

Never mind the Perdido Lex case involving former vice governor John-john Osmeña. It took them ten years to investigate the case.

On the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) case, Apostol said they forwarded their findings to their central office on Dec. 12, 2012, again for approval. So it is not only the Ombudaman here that is lousy; so, too, their central office.

But why did Apostol not constantly followed up the case with their central office?

Apostol claimed that his office is not inefficient in resolving cases, as the number of their pending cases has been reduced. But what kind of cases were resolved? Only those involving ordinary employees?

How can we expect the corrupt to be convicted and placed behind bars if this is the way the anti-graft office works? I say the Ombudsman is inutile.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 22, 2014.

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