THE head of the anti-graft office in the Visayas is being asked to pay the government for losing his government-issued car three years ago.

But Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to reconsider the penalty and called for special treatment. He said the vehicle was stolen.

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“It would be surely unjust and unfair to me if my case would be treated in the same manner as in cases of loss of government vehicles issued to officials and employees as a matter of privilege and convenience only,” he said.

He hinted that it wasn’t an ordinary loss, adding that the theft might have been a veiled threat by those people affected by his investigations during that time.

Apostol explained that the vehicle, an Isuzu Crosswind, was assigned to him for security purposes, adding that he handled so many sensitive cases for the anti-graft office at that time.

In a resolution dated March last year, the COA adjudication and settlement board resolved to make Apostol pay.

And in doing so, it denied his request to be relieved of accountability pending some internal requirements.

But the COA, in its 2008 annual audit report, already reported him accountable for at least P93,253.

This corresponds to that fraction of the vehicle’s cost that was not shouldered by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), which provides coverage for government assets, when it paid P531,247 in claims.

But Apostol, in his motion for reconsideration, stressed that he was not negligent in his handling of the vehicle.

Moreover, he clarified that the vehicle wasn’t lost. It was stolen while being parked outside his house.

He said he took precautions, he said. In fact, he added, his subdivision house in Caloocan City, from where the vehicle was taken, used to have a covered garage.

However, he said the Metro Manila Development Authority tore down those built by his neighbors. This, he said, compelled him to “silently and voluntarily” demolish his own structure.

“It is a sad fact that even up to now, unlike other government officials, I cannot afford to buy or acquire a housing unit complete with built-in garage in a well-secured or exclusive subdivision,” he said.

“Despite my tremendous responsibilities which unavoidably have exposed me to high risk, as a faithful anti-graft crusader, I have to live within my means,” he added.

He hinted that perhaps those out to get him facilitated the removal of the neighboring structures to “go near me.”

“The demolition was done without a notice and allegedly based on the complaint of unknown persons,” he said. (KNR)