‘May lightning strike him dead right now’

that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has surfaced to the delight of some lawmakers who in the past weeks were incensed by her failure to show up during the first hearing of the House committee on justice on plea bargain agreement her office and ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia had entered into, many may surmise that she did it in order to avoid further frictions with the legislators.

With her presence, it’s assumed that she gave in. Nevertheless, the feisty Ombudsman stood firm on their decision to strike a deal which she claims to be above board as evidence against the retired general was weak. However, she says her office is open to reevaluate not only the deal but the plunder case per se against Garcia based on new documentary evidence the committee would over to her.

Apparently aimed at proving her critics wrong, Gutierrez reveals that she’s even created a special panel to investigate the new allegations of corruption against Garcia made by retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, a former budget officer at the Armed Forces. Again in trying to appease the lawmakers, she states that her next step would then depend on the House panel’s recommendation upon completion of its initial evaluation.

Just the same, she is straightforward in saying that the deal was done in the best interest of the country and  that “no money changed hands and if there is anyone who made money on this plea bargain agreement, may lightning strike him dead right now.”

Oops, don’t say that to the honorable former AFP chiefs led by Angelo Reyes who was said to have received P50-million as “send-off” goodwill money when he stepped down as military chief in 2001. Not to be outdone, Rabusa also named two other former military chiefs, namely, Roy Cimatu and Diomedio Villanueva, who he alleged to have pocketed “send-off” money when they stepped down from the posts aside from P10 million each in “pasalubong” money when they succeeded Reyes.

Unfortunately, Cimatu and Villanueva didn’t have the luxury to defend themselves as they weren’t around during the House committee hearing unlike the other ex-military chiefs like Hermogenes Esperon, Narciso Abaya, Dionisio Santiago, Generoso Senga and Alexander Yano who unexpectedly were only given chance to clear themselves as they merely denied having received AFP funds for their personal use to include their wives and children.

No-Lunch Break Policy in Navotas

Saying the taxpayers deserve no less than quality public service, the Navotas City government’s move to implement to the letter the “no-lunch break policy” at the City Hall is worth emulating.

With Mayor John Rey Tiangco’s directive, taxpayers can now easily transact their businesses and need not wait to finish the usual break time hours in paying their right taxes easily and everything will be processed instantly as long as the basic requirements are complete.

He said concerned city officials are expected to lead in implementing the policy by making sure that there are personnel that will be at the frontline services “to ensure uninterrupted public service straight from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.” Let others follow suit. –Arlie O. Calalo

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