Editorial: Defending Abellanosa

HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s refusal to implement the Office of the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss from the service Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia for grave misconduct has brought to the fore a similar refusal by then Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to dismiss Cebu City south district Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa, also for grave misconduct.

This after Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña criticized Alvarez’s act. Osmeña is not friendly with Garcia but is Abellanosa’s political ally. In a way, this explains the seeming double standard in his stance. Yet he did dare to defend that stance, coming up with a logic that missed the point and is, therefore, lame.

The anti-graft office ordered Abellanosa’s dismissal for conflict of interest. As Cebu City councilor, Abellanosa was instrumental in hatching a scholarship program that the Cebu City Government implemented. Among the schools that participated in the program was the Asian College of Technology (ACT), of which Abellanosa was chairman of the board and part owner.

Osmeña made light of Abellanosa’s offense apparently to make it appear that Garcia, who was ordered dismissed for entering into a contract with a firm without authority from the Provincial Board, committed a graver offense. He insisted Abellanosa did not take advantage of his position “but was just more innovative in providing the service.”

The logic fails in at least two counts.

One, the context of the criticism that he practiced double standard is not on who committed the graver offense but on the refusal of both Belmonte and Alvarez to implement the orders of the anti-graft office.

Two, in making light of the “conflict of interest” accusation against Abellanosa, he glossed over the fact that Abellanosa was both councilor and ACT chairman of the board and owner, and therefore benefited from being both in the implementation of the city government’s scholarship program.

For Osmeña, the old admonition for people who live in glass houses not to throw stones can be apt.
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