It’s sickening the way “politics” is being used as the excuse to characterize charges and issues against any government official. Perhaps, partisan politics could be involved in these charges but dismissing them outright just because of this is a great disservice to truth and accountability.
Vice President Jejomar Binay shrugged off charges of overpricing of the new Makati City Hall Building and refused to attend the Senate inquiry because, as he said, the charges were politically motivated. Binay said he would answer these claims “at the proper forum,” or the courts, but the court itself has given due course to the charges. Where to now?
I note that a recent supporter of Binay’s presidential bid, former Speaker Noli Fuentebella, is also facing, like Binay, charges of plunder filed by a non-government organization called Zero Tolerance Organization. Fuentebella has been quoted as saying the NGO had raised old issues. He may be right but these “old issues” remain unresolved and it is incumbent upon the Ombudsman to move in a jiffy and not be rendered immobile by the political season.
Lawyer Levito Balingod, former counsel of “pork barrel” whistle blower Benhur Luy, had claimed that more than 74 former and incumbent lawmakers had diverted their Priority Development Assistance Fund, the euphemism for “pork barrel,” to bogus NGOs. Balingod said these 74 were not in the third batch of cases filed by the Department of Justice-National Bureau of Investigation before the Ombudsman.
Balingod’s claim led Rep. Luz Ilagan to urge the Ombudsman to pursue the cases against the 74 “or else these corrupt government officials will run for office again and plunder the national coffers again and again.”
Fuentebella is now seeking to reclaim his old House seat representing the fourth district of Camarines Sur, which is now occupied by his son Wimpy. Charged with Fuentebella before the Ombudsman were his wife Evelyn, mayor of Sagnay, Camarines Sur, and Fidelis Apalisok, who’s claimed by Zero Tolerance as his dummy.
Fellow Times columnist Marlen Ronquillo wrote about the plunder charges against the three in his column last Wednesday. For those who may have failed to read Marlen’s column, here are the main issues raised by Zero Tolerance against the Fuentebella couple and Apalisok before the Ombudsman:
1. Fuentebella had amassed properties worth P186.6 million, none of which he had declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth and instead, were all placed under the name of Apalisok.
2. Nine government projects worth P45,351,328 were built within the properties of the Fuentebellas in Tigaon and Sagnay.
3. Zero Tolerance cited a Commission on Audit report that said, among other things, that P18.6 million from Fuentebella’s “pork” was “illegally released” to the Partido District Development Cooperative, Inc. Zero Tolerance said this NGO had long been delisted with the Cooperative Development Authority.
I wonder if the Aquino administration has the political will to pursue cases on the allege misuse of “pork” other than those filed against opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and a few congressmen. I note that Leila de Lima has already resigned as Justice Secretary and is now running for senator. Ironically, one of her team mates in the so-called “Tuwid na Daan” coalition is former Rep. Joel Villanueva, who’s in the third batch of cases on “pork misuse.”
Also in the third batch are Sen. Gregorio Honasan 3rd, a candidate for president; and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who’s running for mayor of Cagayan de Oro City. Rodriguez is the principal author/sponsor of the bill on the proposed Law on the Bangsa Moro (LBM), aka Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Death before resignation!
Most of the administration’s appointees would rather die than resign. Among the few exceptions were former Public Works Secretary Ping de Jesus and former Customs Commissioner Raffy Biazon. Definitely, General Manager Jose Angel Honrado of the Manila International Airport Authority is not among the exceptions.
“Why should I resign?” he asked pointedly after the international airport again gained international notoriety with the “tanim-bala” incidents.
He said that he serves at the pleasure of President Aquino and the President hasn’t asked him to resign.
In other more accountable governments where delicadeza reigns, an appointee hobbled by inefficiency, scandal or even disasters not of their making, immediately files his irrevocable resignation without being asked to by the appointing power.
I guess presiding over the once worst airport in the world (now eighth worst, what an improvement!) and frequent flight snafus are not causes for embarrassment to Honrado, enough for him to resign.