BEING a mediaman myself, I am appalled by the mob-like behavior of those mediamen who almost mauled Ampatuan on his way to his arraignment. That Amaptuan probably deserves such treatment, and maybe more, does not justify such display of vengeful anger. Ampatuan is a despicable person, worthy of the maximum penalty for his horrible crime, but that does not make him less deserving of due process which right we all claim for ourselves.

Being media practitioners do not entitle us to more than what every Filipino is entitled to. To claim differently reveals the closet fascist in us-or the raving lunatic.

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Even Ampatuan's lawyer has become the object of contempt to those who refuse to understand that every man is entitled to competent defense. Crime suspects even have the right to refuse answering questions from an investigator without the presence of his lawyer. And if he cannot afford one, the court is bound to appoint a lawyer for him as no person should be convicted without benefit of counsel. Otherwise, it would be a mistrial, justifying an acquittal. And when Ampatuan is acquitted because of it, what do we do? Hang the judge?

There is only one way to describe most public officials, particularly the elected ones. Aside from being inveterate thieves, they are also "kapalmuks". How else can they have the gall to ask from the electorate they have shamelessly robbed to reelect them? If they do not have the hide of a hippopotamus?

Take Bacolod City's officials, for example. Very often, they have been caught with their fingers on the cookie jar. Only a simpleton cannot see how they made millions from the construction of the new city hall and the purchase of the garbage dump. And they still have the temerity to ask for reelection.

Contemptibly shameless, aren't they?

In countries where honor is valued more than life, these officials would have committed suicide long ago.

Former congressman Apolinario Lozada is running for the Senate. Under normal circumstances, his being a fellow Negrense would have been enough for us to rally behind his candidacy. Even if only on this basis, he deserves our support.

However, there is a question about him that Lozada must answer to our satisfaction otherwise we have absolutely no reason to vote for him, even as just for dog catcher.

I am referring to the case former Governor Lito Coscolluela stands accused of before the Sandigan Bayan involving the misuse of the GSEF, or the Local Government Support Fund, amounting to P20 million, which the province failed to avail of because the year was about to end. Then congressman Lozada did the legwork for its release and for his efforts, Governor Lito reportedly agreed that Lozada's district get half of it. And as is true with most funds obtained though congressmen's "effort", all the supplier for Lozada's P10 million share were Manila-based, for obvious reasons.

My information is that when the farm and medical equipments were delivered, the provincial accounting office inspected them at the pier and the merchandize, at least those intended for the other congressional districts, were unloaded and delivered to the provincial capitol. Lozada's district's share was left at the pier and according to my informant, subsequently sent back to the suppliers.

The problem came in when the late Doctor Pat Tan's Graftwatch got wind of it and moved to have the materials re-inspected. A frantic effort by Lozada's congressional staff managed to bring back the equipments, passing thru a northern port as the same would be very obvious if transported through Pulupandan or Bacolod ports.

When Doctor Tan's and COA's teams inspected the equipments, they were already safely stored in a warehouse in Lozada's native Moises Padilla (Magallon). As already stated, after the inspection, the Magallon warehouse was emptied of its contents.

I was told that the suppliers got P2 million for their efforts. Naturally, since all they did was deliver the merchandize and took them back again.

So, who pocketed the P8 million?

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The 11th hour (4th column)

STILL on Governor Lito's Ombudsman case: Aside from the "ghost" deliveries, the Ombudsman also found some of the farm and medical equipments sub-standard. If this is true, then the Ombudsman is barking at the wrong person. Ascertaining the quality and quantity of government purchases is the province of several offices: Accounting, Property or GSO, COA and the recipients themselves. At most, being the chief executive, Governor Lito is responsible over his subordinates. But it would be straining command responsibility too far if we expect the governor to do the inspection himself. Once the proper offices have made their jobs, it is fair for Governorn Lito to assume that everything is in order.

At most, Governor Lito can be faulted for trusting too much.

Unless there is reason to believe that he is the ringleader of the graft syndicate, which to those who know Governor Lito as a person, is next to impossible.

Doctor Epifania Simbul, newly designated chief of the DCLMM Regional hospital, listed among, her priorities the building of a Heart, Lung and Kidney Center. Meaning the Center is a necessity.

So, why didn't Leonardia issue it a building permit? Because it is Representative Puentevella's project, that's why.

That its construction was stopped because it did not have a building permit is plain hogwash. The fact that Leonardia has listed an eye center as among his priority projects for 2010 proves that Monico's heart, Lung and Kidney Center serves an even broader need as it will respond to more life threatening ailments. Instead of putting flimsy roadblocks to its realization, Leonardia should even have gone out of his way to facilitate its completion instead of blocking it simply because Monico will get the credit for it. The mayor could have easily summoned the District Engineer's Office, or whichever office is in-charge of its construction, to comply with the building permit requirement and allowed its construction to continue. Besides, as City Mayor, he is the one who issues the permit. Ergo, he could have ordered his engineering people to facilitate it for his signature.

Had he done that, it wouldn't be the first time he had jumped over the rules. He kidded his government center without an appropriation. He started constructing it long before he got hold of the title. No sir. Leonardia had jumped over the rules in more times than he can count his fingers.

Unless Leonardia had instructed Engineer Guadalupe, his building official, to stop its construction on the flimsy ground that it does not have a building permit, Guadalupe could have simply called the attention of whoever is in-charge of the project and required him to comply with the requirement. In fact, Leonardia should have ordered Guadalupe to facilitate it, pronto!

Leonardia is fond of accusing Monico of sabotaging his projects. But if you look at it, all Monico did was criticize as is the right of every citizen, those projects that he feels were laden with graft, such as the new city hall and the garbage dumpsite. He did not go all the way to stop them. On the contrary, it is Loenardia who used his office to block Monico everytime, as shown in the Bingo controversy and the Heart, Lungs and Kidney Center.

So, who is sabotaging who?

Unless "lagay" is the reason, I cannot see why the Sanggunian of Bacolod did not endorse the Bacolod Imperial Court's ECC application to construct an 81 room motel at Barangay 6. Several women's groups are reportedly opposing it because of its proximity to a school. I suppose this school is none other than the Bacolod North Elementary school located in Barangay 3, which is adjacent to Barangay 6.

Let's face it. A motel, aside from being a lodging place, caters to people intending to make love, like the Voltes 5. It is usually in a walled-in structure not accessible to children of elementary school age. Other than vehicles getting in and out (no pus intended), the neighborhood cannot even have a glimpse of what's going on inside.

So, what's this so-called women's groups problem? And why should the Voltes 5 hesitate to endorse its construction when they are confirmed patrons of motels?

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The 11th hour (5th column)

Had Doctor Pat Tan's Graftwatch not entered the picture, those who profited from the LGSF would have merrily strolled their way into the bank. The problem was that Dr. Tan got wind of the ghost delivery for the 5th district's one half share of P10 million, hence Gov. Lito's headache with the Ombudsman. What is sad is that the poor governor probably didn't even know about it until Tan blew the lid off.

And why would Gov. Lito ever think the purchases could go wrong? After all, it was 5th district congressman Lozada's share as a finder's reward for his locating and facilitating the LGSF due Negross Occidental Besides, the provincial offices involved as well as the recipients of the engineering and hospital equipments have certified that they got them in good condition. His affixing his signature on the documents is at best ministerial.

Fortunately for Lozada, he didn't sign anything. His only role was in locating the LGSEF and facilitating its release. The purchase, acceptance of the deliveries, the inspection, as well as the payment were all performed by the concerned provincial officials.

Or might it be that they, too, like Governor Lito, were just too trusting?

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It was reported earlier that PCSO Director Rey Roquero was considering a run for the governorship of Capiz, or at the very least, for his congressional district. However, we learned after the filing deadline that he had decided to bide his time and leave politics to his wife, Mary Joyce, who is running for reelection unopposed in their native town of Valderama.

Had Director Roquero ran, this would have provided the Capiz electorate a wider field to choose from rather that be limited to narrow choices such as Jocjoc Bolante of Fertilizer scam fame.

I personally owe Director Roquero. He was the one who facilitated the PCSO's assistance when I hovered between life and death October of last year. For a three month period, from October to December, in fact up to early January, I was literally between life and death after that mio-cardial infarction. From the Don Pablo Torre Memorial Hospital, popularly known as Riverside, to the Philippine Heart Center, doctors battled to snatch me from Death's jaws. The cost of my new lease of life was enormous, and friends, both current and estranged, pitched in but it was a mere pittance of the more than a million pesos needed. Now Bacolod congressional candidate Cano Tan, who is Director Roquero's friend, went out of his way to enlist PCSO's thru the PCSO Director as well as that of Congressman Iggy Arroyo. So here I am, still alive and literally kicking.

Had Director Roquero chose to run, I could have helped in informing the electorate of Capiz about his untiring effort to save a life, for if he can do that in my case, there is no reason why he can't do the same to his constituents.

But maybe there is a next time. I certainly owe Director Roquero one.

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Among Leonardia's announced projects is an eye center. However, this is way into the future. If he wins on May, 2010. On the other hand, Congressman Monico's Heart, Lungs and Kidney Center is in the here and now, adequately funded by the national government.

SO, why did he "sabotage", to borrow his word, it?

Might it be because envy, a green-eyed monster, is gnawing at his heart?

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A disqualification case has been filed by a Talisay resident against UNA congressional bet Albee Benitez. It turned out that Benitez wasn't even born here but in the United States. He grew up there, studied there, and lived there most of his life.

A total stranger to the electorate of his district, he now has the temerity to seek their vote.

He is even worse than Anthony Golez, who also aims to represent Bacolod in Congress. At least, Golez studied in Bacolod during his college days.

However, like him, Golez is also a stranger to the Bacolod electorate. Where they got the gall to seek the electorate's vote astounds me to the core.