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Wednesday, July 17, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: Why Gwen’s complaint fires at Magpale but skips the board members

CEBU. Representative Gwen Garcia and Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale. (SunStar file photos)

BUT first, people talk about...

* TWO CANDIDATES BEING CALLED ‘KAWATAN’ by a local radio commentator as if the word was just an ordinary word in a private conversation, not in a public broadcast. Does the libel law “take vacation” during the election season, a mass-com student once asked. No, but persons libeled are more tolerant and just hit back and the “libeler” of course takes greater risk of being dragged to court, mauled or worse.

* EXPENSIVE WAY TO WIN. If the PNP is correct, Daraga Mayor Carlywyn Baldo masterminded the plot to kill his rival for mayor, Ako-Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe. Baldo allegedly tapped six persons for the kill: former soldiers, communist rebels and militiamen, offering P5 million under the contract. Expensive? Veteran politicians think it would cost more these days to buy votes enough to win a tough race.

Visayas Ombud shunned

The complaint filed by Representative Gwen Garcia against Cebu Governor Junjun Davide, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and four other Capitol officials was not unexpected. And nobody griped about political motive, which in this season must be assumed to be roaming freely.

Some broadcasters though noted that:

* The charges for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were filed with the Ombudsman in Quezon City, not with the Visayas deputy ombudsman in Cebu;

* The complaint asks the Ombudsman’s central office to conduct the investigation, not its Visayas office.

The request tells us that the complainant does not exactly trust the local Ombudsman.

What the case is about

Governor Junjun replaced the budget officer and the health officer after the Ombudsman last November 11, 2015 ordered them dismissed from the service for their alleged participation in the CICC construction controversy.

Junjun, unlike Congress, promptly enforced the ombudsman order, known famously as “final and executory.” The Provincial Board, led by Magpale, approved the declaration of the two positions as vacant and the appointment of persons to fill them. The other Capitol officials must have performed some function related to the appointment paper work.

Why Magpale’s included

Atty. Frank Malilong of “Frankahay Ta” on dyCM radio wondered why Vice Governor Magpale, who presided the Provincial Board session that approved the stages of appointment, was included when her work as chairperson was merely to steer the legislative process, almost ministerial unless she’d step down and take part in the debate.

And along with that thought, talk show co-host Atty. Ellie Espinoza asked why members of the board who sponsored and/or voted for the legislation were not included in the complaint.

The complainant must have reasons of legal strategy (wide range of fire, instead of pinpoint shooting) and partisan interest (Magpale is running for the same seat Gwen is aspiring for). But the person who sues generally has the right to select whom to include in the complaint. In media libel, for example, the person libeled may opt to sue only the reporter or columnist and exclude the editor and publisher.

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