Espinoza: Eye for an eye?

JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II hit back Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña with a heavier punch after the latter threatened to sue him of corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman and disbarment before the Supreme Court over the transfer of the tax evasion case that the city mayor filed against Banco de Oro officials.

Secretary Aguirre released the affidavit of Reynaldo “Jumbo” Diaz that named Mayor Tomas as drug protector. Jumbo is the cousin of Jaguar Diaz, who was gunned down sometime in 2016 in Metro Manila before President Duterte assumed office.

Jumbo alleged that the city mayor received P2 million for his hospitalization in 2013 and P5 million for his campaign kitty in the 2016 elections that he won over reelectionist mayor Mike Rama. Jumbo executed the affidavit in November 2016 after his alleged arrest in September 2016 in the Bicol region. He is under the witness protection program of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

But many wondered why Secretary Aguirre only released the affidavit of Jumbo this week. He said his pffice was still building up the case. Was the build up against Mayor Tomas? Or against all those that Jumbo named in his affidavit?

No matter how pure the justice secretary’s intention was in releasing the affidavit, he cannot deny the fact that this happened only after Mayor Tomas accused him of corruption in the BDO case and threatened to file a disbarment case. I am not saying he just wanted to get even, “an eye for an eye” or “a tooth for a tooth.”

It took almost two years for the DOJ to finally reveal the affidavit. In fact, I don’t recall any report that Jumbo Diaz was arrested and was enrolled in the witness protection program. We assume Jumbo is qualified to be in the witness protection program because he’d been there for about two years.

Is President Duterte aware of Jumbo’s affidavit? Aside from Mayor Tomas, who were the others mentioned in the affidavit?

But a political watcher is not worried over the accusation that Mayor Tomas is a drug protector probably because he knew better the city mayor. What he is concerned about is the effect on the voters in next year’s election. If you notice, Mayor Tomas even dared Secretary Aguirre to file a case against him.

With this case directly coming from the justice secretary, the political watcher thinks Mayor Tomas would come out a political martyr and whoever runs for city mayor against him won’t have a chance to win.

And in the event that Secretary Aguirre files the criminal case against Mayor Tomas, where will he venue be, the Ombudsman or the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office? I asked this question because Tomas is the incumbent elected city mayor.

If the case of Sen. Leila de Lima is used as basis, then Mayor Tomas would be charged before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office. But I doubt if the justice secretary would conduct the preliminary investigation here because the city government gives allowances to the prosecutors. The possibility is that the case would be transferred to Manila and the next thing we would know the case against Mayor Tomas is filed in court.

Mayor Tomas may appear unfazed but deep down I know how hard it is to be accused of something you haven’t done. What former mayor Mike Rama experienced when the president called him a drug protector is now felt by Mayor Tomas and the members of his family. But a political animal like Mayor Tomas can handle well this unpleasant event in his life.

•••

In the spirit of the Lent Season, let’s forgive and forget. Happy Easter Everyone!
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