The three who dared
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
A SECOND open-and-shut-case against Dagupan Mayor Benjie Lim was filed before the Ombudsman for violating the country’s anti-corruption law by the tireless anti-corruption advocate, Leo Angeles, with a difference. This time City Administrator Vlad Mata is caught in the net as well.
I honestly don’t see Messers. Lim and Mata getting off the hook in this case as well. They brazenly violated the law on the proper utilization of calamity funds, a fact that was reported by no less than the city auditor in her 2010 annual report. Worse, both allegedly flagrantly violated the laws on public bidding for the purchase of food items.
In the first complaint filed by Mr. Angeles, Mr. Lim is being made accountable for the city’s loss of ownership of the 30-hectare lot in San Jacinto, even after overpaying his friend Jose Mariano Cuña some P9 million! Mr. Lim, not only failed to protect the city by insisting on the purchase knowing the land was in the middle of a land reform dispute. Worse, he not only allowed the city government to default in the proceedings before the arbitration board but refused to seek a refund of the money by Mr. Cuña after failing to transfer the title of the land to the city.
Curiously, to deflect the impact of the serious charges filed against Mr. Lim, his close allies and partners in crime go around the city, bragging to all and sundry that their patron has what it takes to have all the charges dropped. From what I hear, they boast that Mr. Lim has the right connections and the wherewithal to make the Ombudsman turn a blind eye.
This we gotta see.
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ANOTHER NEW DAVID. Meet Ryan Ravanzo, the secretary to the Daguapn City sanggunian and a worthy son of the late councilor and Weekly Guardian editor-publisher Reggie Ravanzo.
He dared to file a complaint against the mayor and the Judas 9, they who recreated the “day of infamy” (of the Pacific war) in Dagupan by agreeing to commit treachery and betray the city’s trust! (I hope WG editors Rhee H. and Leu P. will also find Ryan’s cause worthy of the paper’s support).
If Mr. Ravanzo were another ordinary 9am-5pm bureaucrat watching out only for his own self interests, he would have simply folded his arms, turned away and let the Judas 9 and Mr. Lim (all of whom are his bosses in the city officialdom, and yes, colleagues in the Jaycees) get away with their illegal acts. But he is not your typical live-and-let-live guy. He has the Ravanzo character. His values have been molded well by his parents, teachers and the ideals of the Jaycees Philippines and Rotary International. His intrinsic values and principles are formidable, nothing that P1.5M can buy!
It is, indeed, heartening to know that more men like him and Mr. Angeles are beginning to be felt in the community, they who wish to be counted as among those that believe that “a right must be kept right, a wrong must be set right – Ping Lacson.”
No wonder, Mr. Ravanzo was unanimously elected the next national president of the Jaycees Philippines. Mr. Lim and the Judas 9, all affiliated with the Jaycees movement today and in the past, may have all the trappings of power but they cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with men like Mr. Ravanzo and Mr. Angeles who know what true Jayceeism and Rotary stand for, what public service is all about.
Is there anyone else?
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FIERY GINA. Then, thank God for Manay Gina de V! She is no pushover, one who will not balk at anyone and anything that seeks to destroy her husband Joe de V’s legacy. The latest attempt of Mayor Benjie Lim to torpedo the agreement brokered by Speaker Joe for the establishment and management of the Seafood Processing Plant is finally foiled…at least for now.
Methinks PNoy decided (perhaps at the instance of Manay Gina) that the management of the plant should remain in the hands of BFAR’s experts as promised to the Korean government, the funder of the facility.
Mr. Lim was knocked out cold by Fiery Gina’s solid “sunday punch” in his face before the end of round 3!
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NO-NONSENSE OMBUDSMAN. Here is another recent decision of the Ombudsman that should give not only Mr. Lim and his cohorts but other local town officials similarly situated as well, an inkling of what they are up against.
In what could easily be dismissed as a petty case, the Ombudsman took time to look into a simple case of physical violence committed by barangay tanods that a simple hearing before the barangay kapitan could have resolved.
The Ombudsman saw a serious case of abuse of power and authority. The barangay tanods were dismissed from the service because assaulting the complainants, a mother and her son, even owing to a simple misunderstanding “constituted grave misconduct xxx while in the performance of their duties.”
There’s more. The tanods were meted “the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility and retirement benefits and disqualification for reemployment in the government service.” (Compare that complaint to the cases filed against Mr. Lim that are backed by official documents).
The dismissed tanods’ case should also be instructive to the young victims of assault by Chester Gonzales, the city’s head of the Federation of Sanggunian Kabataan (SK)- cum councilor, and two other SK barangay presidents recently. They, too, can seek justice through the Ombudsman. (The complainants in the tanods’ case had also filed a case before the Metropolitan Trial Court in Quezon City). The victims must know that Mr. Gonzales and his fellow SK bullies can be dismissed from office.
Ironically, the “P1.5M onor-onors” and Mr. Lim cannot bring themselves even to suggest a preventive suspension against Mr. Gonzales as a councilor and head of the city federation until the case filed against him is settled by the court for his reprehensible acts unbecoming of a public official. Tsk-tsk. Wonder no more how P1.5M can completely compromise one’s touted principles and values.