Former mediaman among most corrupt LGU officials in the land

WHILE people in Metro Manila and in other major urban areas in the country are agog with the disclosures on so-called hidden bank accounts of the Chief Magistrate, and with revelations in social media of alleged hidden wealth of some of the top officials in the land, many constituents of local politicians are wondering why instances of large-scale corruption in their localities are given little attention to or are totally ignored.

In October 2011, constituents of a mayor in a municipality in Zamboanga del Norte have requested my help to bring to the attention of President Aquino the corrupt ways of a partymate who is said to be total anathema to the latter’s anti-corruption campaign.

Aware of  the power and influence of media, I thought of asking my media friends for help in exposing such misdeeds.  One media friend from a top television network expressed willingness to help, but said that their principal requirements are documents to support the complaint and at least one witness.

I do not see any problem producing the witnesses as many have shown willingness to testify; however, the documents would be a little difficult to produce, unless some people in the particular LGU are willing to risk their work, life and limbs to provide these to me. People have since hesitated to articulate their complaints because of the ability of the LGU official to, accordingly, pay his way out of his predicaments, by hook or by crook.

What is the gravity of the offense? I have filled almost half of my notebook pad with notes on the large-scale corruption—ghost projects, IRA amounting to more than P7 million a month kept almost to the mayor’s self, non-existent projects awarded to his group of companies with dummies bearing Chinese-sounding names to make them appear like real businessmen.

The mayor almost “owns” every conceivable business there could be in the area—trucking services for his ghost projects, gasoline stations, hardware, general merchandise that supplies the LGU’s office requirements from computers to bond paper, pharmacies, convenience stores, a hotel with functions rooms where LGU meetings are held, water refilling stations, recreation area (cockpit), ice plant, security services, resorts, piggeries, fish ponds.

He has passbooks for various bank accounts, and at least nine vehicles, including two (2) Mitsubishi pajeros, a Toyota Fortuner, a Mitsubishi Montero, and three (3) utility pick-up vehicles.

I would like to thank my kababayan, a Region IX auditor who has given encouragement and has expressed willingness to bring this case to the attention of COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza even initially with a simple narration of facts.

Indeed, the campaign to fight graft and corruption cannot rest on one shoulder alone. Collaboration with media and other agencies of government could, hopefully, nail or at least strike fear in the hearts of the corrupt.

Can media help censure one of its own?  This is one question that I wish to answer in the days to come.

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