THE Ombudsman investigation on the Balili lot controversy will suffer the same fate as the inquiry on the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).
The case will be sent to Manila with the Cebuanos not knowing what the findings are.
Tanodbayan Merce-ditas Gutierrez has issued a memorandum expanding a directive that requires all cases set for preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication against high-ranking officials to be sent to Manila.
With Memorandum Circular No. 2 series of 2009, Gutierrez says that even final evaluation reports, whether recommending a dismissal or an upgrading, are now to be sent to Manila too for final approval “effective immediately.”
Gutierrez’s memorandum, on the other hand, clips the powers of sectoral offices like the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas even more. It leaves the sectoral office incapable of making any final approval on any investigation—formal or fact-finding—against any high-ranking public official.
The memorandum covers governors, vice governors, board members, provincial department heads, city mayors, vice mayors, city councilors, city department heads, government prosecutors and their assistants, and presidents, directors, trustees and managers of government owned and controlled corporations, state universities, institutions and foundations.
Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago defended the order, saying it wasn’t issued to legitimize Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol’s earlier act of sending to Manila the final evaluation report on the CICC investigation.
The memorandum of was received by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visa-yas only last Dec. 11.
The newly designated spokesperson said the Tanodbayan made the decision because of the need to be well-informed of all complaints filed against high-ranking officials.
The memorandum was dated Nov. 11.
Apostol, on the other hand, first admitted to the press that he disagreed with the findings of his associate investigators on the CICC and was sending the findings to Manila last Nov. 17.
But he didn’t mention the existence of Memorandum Circular 2 in his media interview. Instead he cited Administrative Order 65 which doesn’t mention fact-finding investigations or the need to send them to the Manila for approval.
Santiago acknowledged that the memorandum clips the sectoral office’s wings at a time when the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas is being assailed publicly over its handling of cases.
She said, though, that the public will still know of the findings because the records of the case will be sent back to Cebu.
“Whether the findings are for upgrading or for closure, the case will be sent back here to be sent to the parties either so that they can submit their counter-affidavit, in cases of upgrading, or for notice, in case the approved action is closure and termination,” she said.