CHICAGO (jGLi) – I applaud the residents of Agusan del Sur in the Philippines for snaring and trapping alive last week a huge prehistoric crocodile touted as the longest and heaviest of its kind in captivity.
While the reptile might have consumed humans, who might have crossed his path, this crocodile should not be faulted for attacking humans because he was doing it only for survival.
Now that the reptile which took its nickname “Lolong” after one of its ill-fated hunters, we should now turn on capturing the two-legged crocodiles that roam the Philippine Congress and the government, who never tire on stealing the pork barrels.
Many politicians have been raiding the national treasury for nearly a decade and stashed that ill-gotten wealth secretly in big investment houses. But still, they would insist on holding onto some elective positions, pretending to be serving the people.
But what these very few rich people want to accomplish is to preserve their wealth so that more people will seek their help and be indebted to them. This insatiable desire to amass more wealth is a throwback to the feudal times when nobility would thrive by exploiting illiterates and turning them into beasts of burden.
So they would be untouchable like drug lords, these rich people would have to put up private security agencies or private armies.
They don’t realize it that the more they linger in government service, the more they are liable to committing more mistakes.
LAWYERS THRIVE ON MISTAKES OF POLITICIANS
But like the black hole in the outer space, where nothing escapes, these crocodiles in the government will be ceding a great part of their wealth to the lawyers, who will be representing them in various courts of law.
If they are unlucky with their choice, these lawyers will prolong the litigation of the case so they earn more attorneys’ fees.
In the case of my native Sorsogon province, it is pity that my province mates have been governed alternately by husband-and-wife tandems, who are not even natives of Sorsogon. Incumbent Gov. Raul R. Lee is said to be originally surnamed “Rodrigueza” from Albay while his wife, former Gov. Sally Lee, is from Vigan, Ilocus Sur, who does not even speak Sorsogon Bikol.
Since both of them are carpetbaggers, how sincere are they really in helping Sorsoguenos?
When she was governor of the southernmost province of Luzon, Governor Sally Lee obtained a 260-million pesos (U$6-M) loan for the province. When Sorsogon’s provincial board member Vladimir Frivaldo sought for an accounting of the loan, Frivaldo did not get any response.
I told Vladi to direct his inquiry to the Commission on Audit so it can conduct an accounting of the loan money.
Despite the refusal of Governor Sally Lee to explain the whereabouts of the 260-million pesos, her successor and husband, Gov. Raul R. Lee, had the gall to secure another loan, this time, a bigger 350-M peso (US$8.3-M) loan.
Vladi Frivaldo opposed the P350-M loan but the rest of the members of the Sorsogon provincial board approved the loan request. Vladi wrote a letter to the two banks – Philippine National Bank and Land Bank of the Philippines – to reject the Governor Raul Lee’s loan application by virtue of two criminal graft information filed against Lee by the Ombudsman. Vladi also wrote Congress to investigate the loan request. Vladi is still waiting for the response of his letters.
LIQUIDATE FIRST THE P260-M LOAN BEFORE P350-M LOAN IS APPROVED
If COA finds out that Gov. Sally Lee cannot liquidate the P260-M, Sally Lee should be charged with malversation of public funds before the Ombudsman.
If Sally Lee could not even account for the P260-M loan, why would PNB or the LBP even entertain granting the P350-M loan to her husband?
Court Information furnished to me by Mr. Fulton Baylon, an anti-graft fighter in Sorsogon, shows that Gov. Raul R. Lee, Raul G. Hernandez, Sorsogon Provincial Chief Accountant, and Ofelia D. Velasco, Sorsogon Provincial Treasurer, have been charged with violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. 3019) by Ombudsman Orlando C. Casimiro after a preliminary investigation for buying P2,640,000.00 (US$62,857.00) Bio Nature Liquid Fertilizer from Feshan Phil. Inc. without public bidding.
The overpriced liquid fertilizer, according to former DA (Dept. of Agriculture) Regional Executive Director Fe Laysa, is “not appropriate for rice and corn, the principal crops in the region” but it is good for “hanging plants like orchids and other ornamental plants, which however, are not among the priority commodities for development and support.”
In another case supplied to me by Mr. Baylon, the Ombudsman also charged Gov. Raul R. Lee, Atty. Cesar J. Balmaceda, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Antonio R. Huab, Provincial Engineer’s Office Engr. Arnie de Vera, Assistant Provincial Budget Officer Rosie D. Agnis, Provincial Assessor Florenco C. Dino II, Provincial General Services Officer Teresita D. Paladin, Accounting Clerk III Felicisimo D. Brondial, Inspection Officer Manuel S. Laurora and Enrico T. Velasco, Presidential and CEO of First Education & Training Ventures, Inc. of San Juan City, Metro Manila with accepting P12, 000,000.00 (US$285,714.00) satellite and office equipments and a recurrent fee of US$24,000 on March 29, 2004 from FETVI before FETVI was awarded the contract on March 30, 2004 without public bidding.
The same respondents are also accused of obtaining 300 sets of computer hardware and software in the amount P10,000,000.00 (US$238,095) from a loan with the Philippine National Bank. The only problem with these computers is that they are all “reconditioned/slightly used” instead of the “brand new fresh commercial stock supplies or property” required by the COA Circular.
Oh, well the accused in Sorsogon are not as large as the crocodiles in the Philippine Congress and Malacanang but they can grow as big if they will be left in the wild (or go unpunished).
With these charging information, Secretary Jesse Robredo has now every reason to ask Governor Lee to cede his office to the Vice Governor, unless Mr. Lee can quash the information.