Ombudsman defied SC in clearing Comelec crook

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2016 - 9:00am

Al-DuB, Alyansang Duterte-Bongbong. That’s the monicker of a political strain pushing for Rodrigo Duterte as President and Bongbong Marcos as VP. Members say the North-South alliance is more attractive to voters than any other team-up. Bongbong is from Ilocandia in North Luzon, where he once was governor, and also from East Visayas on the mother-side. Duterte is from Davao in South Mindanao, and also from Central Visayas, his parents’ birthplace.

Human rights activists are aghast at the tandem. They fear Duterte as self-confessed summary executioner of criminals, and Bongbong as a memorial restoration to Malacañang of his dictator-father Ferdinand. For, the VP is just a breath away from the Presidency.

Duterte’s latest campaign pitch heightens the activists’ concern. “Kill me if I don’t bust crime in six months (as President),” he declares. Aside from killing him being yet another crime, they wonder if a VP Bongbong just might oblige him.

* * *

Mar Roxas’ strategists who are trying to wean him away from President Noynoy Aquino are shaking their heads.  It was bad enough that Roxas again played P-Noy clone by praising the presidential veto of SSS pension hikes. Worse, he called the pensioners and their advocates “makikitid ang isip (narrow-minded).”

Roxas in effect insulted 2.15 million retirees, mostly diligent voters. He also belittled the 223 of 292 congressmen, and 18 of 24 senators who unanimously enacted the law in separate deliberations.

* * *

What was Comelec chairman Andres Bautista thinking when he rehired as consultant a disgraced retired officer? Did he not check the guy’s background?

Had Bautista done his homework, he would have learned that Eduardo Dulay Mejos has a bad record with the Supreme Court. As a lawyer and law school dean, Bautista should respect the SC’s orders.

Mejos should have been fired long ago – benefits forfeited and perpetually barred from public office. That was the SC’s directive to the very Ombudsman who had recommended the stern action.

Oddly that Ombudsman reneged on her promise, and has since resigned. So, does that nullify the SC order, and today justify Bautista’s rehiring of Mejos?

A backgrounder: Mejos retired two years ago as Comelec finance director. For ten years he had a checkered career as one of the MMDA trusties that chairman Benjamin Abalos brought into the poll agency:

• In 2003 Abalos, Mejos, et al purchased for P1.2 billion defective election automation hardware and inexistent software from Mega Pacific. The SC, in ponencia by Justice Artemio Panganiban, nullified the contract, and ordered their indictment plus return of the money (see http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2004/jan2004/159139.htm).

• In 2006 Abalos and Mejos paid P45 million to a defunct Comelec printer. To wipe out traces of the misdeed, Mejos “lost” the documents (see http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/12082/comelec-pays-defunct-printer-p45m).

• In 2013 chairman Sixto Brillantes and Mejos misused P30 million to spy on critics of the Comelec and its fraudulent PCOS voting gadgets. Aside from the act being unconstitutional, Congress had forbidden the Comelec from having intelligence funds (see http://www.manilatimes.net/election-watchdog-accuses-comelec-of-spying-on-critics/15309).

Bautista rehired Mejos last year as consultant. Winners of Comelec biddings for Election 2016 are grumbling about shakedown. Allegedly he demands 25-percent kickback, for issuance of the all-important Notices of Award and to Proceed. Bautista’s name is being mentioned (see Gotcha last Monday, http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2016/01/18/1543739/retired-comelec-crook-back-chairmans-office).

The mess could have been avoided. Bautista just had to read what went on after the SC ruled against Mega Pacific in 2004. It’s all in the SC records:

After the Mega Pacific scam, other anomalies had ensued at the Comelec under Abalos and involving Mejos, among others. By mid-2006 the SC had had enough. It ordered the new Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to act once and for all, by June 30, 2006.

The long and short of it was that Gutierrez had missed by six long months the SC deadline to act, so was reminded of it. She claimed that administrative matters had eaten up her time. She then had to have the four Comelec cases reviewed (see ponencia by Justice Antonio Carpio http://www.chanrobles.com/scresolutions/resolutions/2006/july/159139.php).

In the end, Gutierrez stated that:

“...(4) Respondents Eduardo Mejos, Gideon G. de Guzman, Jose P. Balbuena, Lamberto P. Llamas, and Bartolome J. Sinocruz are found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and are meted the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service ... with cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for re-employment in the government service;

(5) That further fact-finding investigation be conducted by this Office on the ... criminal liability of all persons who may have conspired with public officials in the subject contract....”

In turn the SC gave Gutierrez a no extension deadline of 45 days – starting June 30, 2006 till Aug. 14 – to enforce her own recommendations.

But Gutierrez broke her word. Abalos then went on to oversee the NBN-ZTE scam with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo in Apr. 2007 (also exposed in this column). Those breaches were among the reasons Congress planned to impeach Gutierrez in 2012, prompting her to resign.

Mejos stayed in the Comelec till 2013, when he retired with full benefits. He is now a resurrected VIP at the Office of Chairman Bautista.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with