|Ombudsman Morales exchanges sword with defense counsel Cuevas|
|“I apologized, mea culpa ,’ Morales told Santiago|
By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Officials in Pangasinan should emulate Valenzuela City’s vaunted tertiary education program.
A college student there pays only P1,500 per semester at the city’s owned Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela.
This pro-poor program of Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian is a dig on the adage “If you can not afford education, try ignorance.”
In case Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin S. Lim builds a city-owned college as planned, my unsolicited advice is for him to imitate the scholarship program of Valenzuela to fight the soaring unabated tuition fee increases of colleges and universities in the city which notorious for churning out half-baked students.
A very high public officials said mayors of Pangasinan are hard-up these days after Jai Alai took a piece of the action in the province.
“For more than a year now already, the share they got from illegal number game jueteng is half of what they received from the game’s operator,” he said.
He lamented that if a mayor has no other means of business; he is in a bind every time needy constituents come to him.
“Some of them will resort to corruption to sustain their patronage politics.”
He was reacting on my last week’s column about a jueteng insider who told me and a group of councilors of a local government unit who for a year now do not receive their P15 thousand each monthly payola.
Dagupan City Administrator Vlad Mata, a friend of Mayor Gatchalian, reacted to the disinformation perpetrated by the enemies of Mayor Lim.
He said how the mayor would give P1.5 million bribe to each of the five councilors when the swanky MacAdore Building has not yet been sold.
He explained that the procurement law of the country has put measures to deter arbitrary sale of government property.
He said the edifice would pass the stringent appraisal committee, disposal committee, bid, and publication in a newspaper of general circulation for all and sundry to know the competitive price.
When Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked the senators who are members of the impeachment court for a division of the house if the power point presentation of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales (on the $12 Million bank accounts of Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Corona) would be allowed, nobody opposed it.
Why? The senators, especially those who are seeking re-election, know the repercussion that awaits them before the voters.
It happened to Miriam Santiago when she lost the poll before when she aggressively sided with former president Joseph Estrada (when he was being impeached), these solons would not want a repeat of that public wrath that befell “maid” Miriam.
Morales’ power point presentation, using figures she got from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has irreparably damaged Corona that no corrupt officials of the DPWH could restore him from where he was before the expose'.
In last Monday’s examination by defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas of the Ombudsman (a former justice of the Supreme Court), the latter showed her mettle and savvy against the veteran legal eagle Cuevas (a retired justice too of the Supreme Court).
“I’ve been telling you (Cuevas) like a broken record that I based my evaluation on AMLC,” Morales, in her clipped English annoyingly quipped to the “beleaguered” defense counsel.
The scintillating intellectual treat can be likened to Manny Pacquiao-Eric Morales (II) tussles.
But the following Wednesday, Morales was outclassed by firebrand senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago when both tangled on the wisdom of Morales tapping the AMLC to get information on the foreign currency account of everybody including the members of congress.
Now the mind game treat (reminiscent during the glorious days of the Senate where intellectual giants like Senators Jovito Salonga and Claro Recto ruled the day) became more scintillating. It was “Thrilla in Manila” once again where two great minds tangle on a complicated issue.
But Maid Meriam got the better of it.
It was just like Floyd Mayweather Jr. outclassing Juan Manuel Marquez.
She asked Morales if she can open the dollar account of the senators and members of the House of Thives,er, Representatives.
“It depends upon my evaluation,” Morales answered.
Santiago repeated the same question to a cornered Morales to give a “yes” or “no” answer.
But Morales gave the same answer.
Maid Mirima cried:
“I know that! But supposed that after (doing) all your internal procedures, and you have made a decision that the complaint is worthy of further consideration. Is it your considered opinion that, as in this case, you can just go direct to AMLC and not follow procedures in the AMLC law?”
“It would depend on the complaint,” Morales again answered.
“Well, you’re fudging your answer.”
Morales tried to protest, but Santiago admonished her, “You’re arguing with a senator-judge.”
“I apologized, mea culpa (my mistake),’ Morales told Merriam.
“Your apology is accepted, “snapped by a firm Santiago who immediately turned her back on Morales and went to her chair.
“Noted,” snapped back by a vexed Ombudsman who thought she was still a justice.
(You can read my selected intriguing but thought-provoking columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org).