Punchline

Endless Adversities

EFG

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THE news about the enforcement of the order of the Ombudsman to dismiss Provincial Administrator Raffy Baraan and Pangasinan Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Officer Alvin Bigay, is perplexing as it is confusing.

I received a confirmation that the two actually complied with the order last Friday, December 12, upon receipt of a copy of the Nov. 28 letter from the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Undersecretary Austere Pandadeo to DILG Regional Director Julie Daquioag, directing the enforcement of the Ombudsman’s order.

I recall that when I first read the October 21 news release issued by statement the Ombudsman on the indictment of Guv spines and 13 others, I found one part utterly strange. It read -“Aside from the criminal indictments, Baraan and Bigay were found administratively liable for Grave Misconduct and meted out the penalty of dismissal from the service, with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service. “

What I deduced as the basis for the dismissal was that part that read: “The grant of Gratuitous Permit by the provincial government signed by respondent Baraan, facilitated by respondent Bigay of the Provincial Housing and Development Coordinating Office, merely highlights the grant of unwarranted benefit given to an unaccredited contractor.”

I thought for a moment that there must have been some mistake in the October 21 transmittal so I didn’t give it much thought until I got wind of the enforcement of the dismissal order last week, and received a copy of it early this week.

I found it strange that Messrs. Baraan and Bigay were already dismissed when they were just being indicted together with 12 others, including Guv Spines, allegedly for “engaging in illegal black sand mining trade in the Lingayen Gulf area.” Wasn’t the signing and endorsement of the “gratuitous permit” a case for the trial? I’ve always thought that due process for an accused is paramount in our legal system but I seem to miss it in their case.

For my education, I sought Mr. Baraan last Friday and asked him how that came about, if he and Mr. Bigay had presented their affidavits in their defense. He said they were surprised by it as well and could only file a motion for reconsideration (MR) as the legal process provides for.

The sequence confused me. I thought that the first legal document that an accused submits is an affidavit to reply and comment on the complaint, but I now have the impression that this particular phase was skipped. Messrs. Baraan and Bigay had no other recourse but simply to submit an MR without the benefit of being provided the chance to explain themselves earlier.

That leaves the two to suffer the dismissal and other penalties until the Ombudsman finds merit in the submitted MR. Tsk-tsk.

From where I sit, due process appeared to have been denied the two gentlemen.

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ANOTHER 30 PIECES OF SILVER. Remember how the infamous special session of the Dagupan City Council in 2011 led to the formation of the Judas 9 alliance in return for the authority given then Mayor Benjie Lim to sell MC Adore at whatever price?

Then former Mayor Lim managed to pull off the sale of the MC Adore properties by coopting 9 councilors to do as he bided. The rest is history. The 9 councilors chose to leave a shameful legacy by selling out their colleagues and the city for their thirty pieces of silver. The only mitigating circumstance in their favor was – they were tempted, so they claim!

Now comes another reprehensible saga in the city council. The city is seeing a replay of the same situation but in a reverse, shocking way but definitely it can mean another 30 pieces of silver for them.

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JUDAS 6 RIDES AGAIN. It is now the city council, led by Vice Mayor Brian Lim, leading the pack of the Judas 9 survivors (Councilors Karlos Reyna, Redford Erfe-Mejia, Jess Canto, Alvin Coqua and Guillermo Vallejos) in the city council with two allies of Mayor Belen Fernandez (Councilors Alfie Fernandez and Marvin Fabia) in tow, that is pressing the mayor to sell out for their personal benefit!

It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why they make themselves scarce during plenary discussions for the budget.

Read this – My resourceful mole has it down pat that the brazen bunch is demanding P1.8 million each for their personal “projects”! Gosh, they can’t even think of moderating their greed!

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ET TU BRUTUS? The Judas 9 of the past reminded me of how Jesus Christ was betrayed. Today, the betrayal at the city council reminds me of Julius Caesar’s famous last words “Et tu Brutus?” before the daggers hit home. It is a classic story of betrayal by the most unexpected persons. In this case, the two allies of Mayor Belen.

They had threatened, and have made good on their threat, not to act on the 2015 city budget because Mayor Belen had not agreed to provide them the usual “financial assistance” that then Mayor Lim generously gave them throughout.

There’s no doubt that the Judas 6 and the Brutus 2 certainly have the numbers to use their power of the purse for criminal purposes – to compel the mayor to deliver the cash, by crook or by crook, never mind that the Supreme Court has ruled that pork barrel is illegal and the Commission on Audit disallows any financial assistance to lawmakers.  

The criminal world has a no-nonsense word for it – blackmail!

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ONE-FOR-ALL? Evidently, we are seeing 8 members of the council that agreed to do a musketeers’ pact – “One for all, all for one” believing they can again pull a fast one just like the original Judas 9 did before Mayor Lim disappeared!

When The PUNCH tried to seek explanation or comments from the councilors, they only had one uniform message – “Please contact Councilor Jigs Seen!” Duh? Why Mr. Seen? Let me read that. As the chairman of the finance committee and brother-in-law of the mayor, he will not unduly expose his sister-in-law, and more importantly he will not betray his colleagues who can help him look good. That would lead to a stalemate for the Queen who will have no choice but to give in to the discreet blackmail, the councilors’ interpretation of the check-and-balance in government. Neat, huh? Wrong mistake. But let’s watch Mr. Seen’s moves in the weeks ahead.

Obviously, not one of the enterprising councilors would want to be caught with his pants down on this blackmail issue. What they didn’t realize was their pact to say nothing but simply be absent during plenary sessions already exposed themselves with their pants down, showing their branded underwear fully stained with marks of uncontrollable flow of yellow piss!

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OMBUDSMAN IS WATCHING. The surviving Judas 6 and the Brutus 2 believe they can blackmail the city, and get away with it. They can try.

But I don’t believe the Dagupeños will let them get off the hook easy. I sure hope Mayor Belen will stand her ground. The PUNCH? It will simply continue to do its best to help fight off the hoodlums in barong, whoever and wherever they may be!

Here’s a fair warning to blackmailers – If you don’t mend your ways, you will meet your comeuppance… and payback, that’s for sure! The Ombudsman is watching!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS. Thank God for Pope Francis who reminded us how to celebrate Christmas even in times of adversities. I do wish all a truly Merry Christmas in Jesus’ name!

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