Sunday, August 01, 2021

Sanchez: Though the heavens may fall

FIAT justitia ruat cælum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning “Let justice be done through the heavens fall.” The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

So we read from a regional daily that the ombudsman sacked two engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) third Engineering District in Negros Occidental.

The ombudsman discovered probable cause to charge the engineers with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

Back in 2014, the two engineers were mandated to complete on 29 June 2014 when they issued Notices to Proceed in favor of the contractor OPELL Construction and Development Corporation.

Yet in an ocular inspection in 2015, the Field Investigation Office discovered that both bridges were unfinished.

The ombudsman noted that “during the implementation stage, respondents allowed the contractor to continue working on the project despite poor performance or accomplishment and unreasonable delay of the contractor in the projects. They allowed the contractor to collect full payment thereafter with the understated penalty or liquidated damages. As shown in the Disbursement Vouchers, the contractor was not made to pay for the unreasonable delay of each project of at least 562 days.”

Given their walking papers were officer-in-charge District Engineer Haydee Alunan, and Officer-in-charge (OIC) Assistant District Engineer Elsie Sabay for grave misconduct in connection with the anomalies in the rehabilitation of the Mabua bridge in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. Fiat justitia ruat cælum.

Then we hear this. Newly-appointed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat recently said she was “uncomfortable” that projects under the Tourism Promotion Board (TPB) do not undergo public bidding.

Whoa. Were public funds given on a silver platter to favored companies? Berna, an adopted Negrense, said that César Montano explained that TPB projects are “usually” sponsorship deals hence, these do not undergo the usual bidding processes.

Even columnist Ramon Tulfo publicly criticized his siblings, Berna’s predecessor, former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, and Ben Tulfo, over the controversial placement of P60-million worth of ads in the latter’s television program.

But that was just the surface. She could not help but weep when she talked about the large-scale misuse of funds she is discovering at the Department of Tourism (DOT). She exclaimed, “Di lang P1 million, P2 million. Hundreds of millions.”

Now let us see how the heavens will fall there at the DOT. Let the wheels of justice grind regardless of consequences. The public will be watching how the national government deals with the bigwigs.



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