Palmes-Dennis: Moreno and the Ombudsman

Susan Palmes-Dennis

DELAYED justice is not justice at all and that had always been the case in the Philippines.

I am talking about the recent dismissal order issued by the Ombudsman on Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno. Moreno could be right in saying that he is being persecuted by his political “friends” who may be using the Ombudsman without the agency knowing it.

I could not blame the mayor for thinking about it. I also understand the mayor's anguish and the excitement of Moreno's political enemies in having him barred perpetually from public office so they can regain control of Cagayan de Oro City anew.

Don't get me wrong I may sound biased in favor of Moreno but like anyone else who one day hope for better government services, I don't like corruption in whatever level because it deprives people like my family and relatives of benefits of government service.

Corruption pollutes those seated close to the powers that be and depletes the government's coffers. Moreno's case is different since there are so many angles to study on and something is not right here.

The case referred to by the Ombudsman in deciding against Moreno happened seven years ago when he was still governor of Misamis Oriental province.

The case is all about a procedure on the bidding of the use of the heavy equipment for road construction or repair of mangled roads in the province. Moreno is joined by members of the Bids and Awards Committee for dismissal from service as ordered by the Ombudsman.

The alleged malversation of funds is procedural since it is the bidding process that was allegedly not followed even if there was no money involved.

In short Moreno is facing a case because he did not follow the bidding process as prescribed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

If Moreno followed procedure it would take years to cement, open, riprap or even just take a look at the province's infrastructure which to my mind is visible to all who see that there are fewer roads.

A governor that works for the people and overseeing what is necessary for the public would really be frustrated by the bureaucracy. But a lazy leader can use the bureaucracy as an excuse not to get work due to all these prohibitions.

When the provincial engineering office assigned to oversee these projects have no equipment in the first place, then I would do the same. It would have been different if the case against Moreno stemmed from stealing money from the government.

If my memory serves me right there are different kinds of bidding procedure. Maybe Moreno used ways to get around the procedure and red tape to eventually open a new road or improved an existing bad road.

Since Moreno is a reelected mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, to suspend him now is a grave injustice to the residents of Cagayan de Oro who reelected him to office years back.

Since the case involved alleged crimes committed a long time ago during his tenure as governor, the case may only be an investigation and recommendation of the filing of the cases.

If we assume that the arguments of the mayor's lawyers headed by the great student of the late "Joe Sabs" Dale Brian Mordeno are not heard, it would take the Ombudsman another 7 to 10 years to resolve it.

That would be tantamount to delayed justice and as I said, that is not justice at all.. When a case is "bahaw" (not fresh), the public loses interest in it and those who opposed it would be six feet under by then.

Procrastination in resolving the case and bringing justice to victims can also lead to a loss of substantial evidence of justice can lead to a loss of public trust in government,

I am also sad that people don't trust the Court of Appeals when it issued the temporary restraining order against the dismissal order issued by the Ombudsman.

Critics would wrongly think that the CA was paid millions to issue the order. If there is no trust in government then this country would become a banana republic.

That's why hire they former reporters to spin the story. As part of its efforts to speed up justice, the Ombudsman should conduct an inventory of the cases and decide on them immediately.

They should ask Congress for additional budget and personnel to take on drug cases. Unless they do this, expect the wheels of justice to grind ever so slowly.

I can only hope that justice in the Philippines would be better served for everyone.