Posts Tagged ‘Ombudsman

28
Aug
10

One incident, many results

Police and SWAT members assault a tourist bus to rescue hostages at Manila's Rizal Park Monday Aug.23, 2010 in Manila

The neverending debates go on and on over the tragic incident of the Manila Bus Hostage Crisis that happend last August 23. After dismissed Chief Inspector Captain Rolando Mendoza started it all, 8 foreign nationals were dead. The entire Filipino nation is put in an unprecedented situation of shame, disgracefulness, grief, blames, and fear of losing economic promise. There is suddenly a great threat for tourism, export and service industry and investment oppurtunities with China and Hong Kong. In only one day, many things have changed.

Let’s start with our sentiments toward the 26 victims who, while touring our beautiful country, suddenly found themselves as hostages. When one dismissed policeman wanted his position back, held them, using his M16 rifle and a pistol. 8 innocent people causelessly lost their lives, while most of the rest were seriuosly injured. Captain Mendoza himself died of a sniper’s bullet. This is very unfortunate and horrific incident for our country and people. The stains left will forever stay in the minds of many.

A horrified victim being dragged by Hostage Taker Capt. Rolando Mendoza inside the bus

My heartfelt condolences to the victims.

The outrage of Hong Kong People is understandable. And we honor and respect their feelings. While we are humbling ourselves before our chinese brethren, we ask them to find in their hearts to understand us, for we too are in pain and saddend by this unfortunate event.

But what went wrong? There are so many questions that need to be answered but there is no single absolute rightful answer to all the questions. There are so many dimensions that need to be considered. The President of the Philippines is facing what is said to be the government’s failure on its first major crisis, from having been unsuccessfully reached by phone,  to the conflicting stories of his communications group, to smiling, to allegedly having weak control over police and security matters, to not intervening during the operation, to his Tourism Secretary’s non immediate action to help the victims, to his DILG Secretary’s lack of leadership to the PNP and the Manila City Government. Also, the camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is grabbing the oppurtunity to slash back at the Aquino Administration, not recognizing the fact that the new administration had only been in office for 55 days and 9 years before that, they were the ones responsible for preparing the police force for this kind of crisis.

President Benigno S.C. Aquino, III

For the part of the PNP, there was an admission of failed leadership of the crisis committee under Supt. Magtibay, who with 4 others were relieved a day after, and whose successor had been relieved after a day’s appointment. The negotiators also aired out admission of failure. Evidently, the PNP was not prepared to counteract such serious threats to citizen security. From lack of confident judgement, to lack of necessary equipment, to lack of sufficient combat operation tactics, to lack of full control over media, by standers, the hostage taker and the situation as a whole. All of these, unfolded before the international sight.

I still strongly believe, that indeed, the presence of the brother of Mendoza, Gregorio, did not help and infact just worsened the situation. Gregorio, who is also a policeman himself, added insult to injury to the already struggling image of the Philippine Police force. His childish actuations during his arrest did not help at all. Not knowing his real intentions for coming up armed and telling his brother not to give in until he gets back his pistol, was a very unnecessary call. It was just right that he was removed from the scene. Unfortunately, the incident was seen by his brother which resulted to his aggravation. This is were the blame for the media comes in. But so far no media have admitted fault for their free blow by blow footage of the whole saga.

Captain Rolando Mendoza

The draping of the Philippine flag on Mendoza’s coffin was a “major major insult”, not only to the victims but to the dignity of the country as well. Fortunately, they took away the flag after the Chinese embassy reacted. It said, only those who died with heroism, decency and integrity deserve the flag but not those who took advantage of innocent souls and used them to pursue their own personal grievances, like Mendoza. Allegedly, the Mayor of that town in Batangas, sent the flag to be displayed at the casket.

Today, the Chinese government will not accept our RP delegation to China, until we are able to submit a full investigation report of the whole incident. 

Police Force

Instead of blaming and pin pointing at each other, this whole situation suggests that a whole lot of study and improvements need to be done. Crisis awareness should not be taken for granted, along with others. The Philippne National Police needs to be resystematized and fully equipped and prepared for all threats of disastrous crisis.

Lastly, we need a genuine brave leadership in our government.

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23
Aug
10

Bus Hostage Crisis:Why Rolando Mendoza had to resort to this?

It is always easy to say that former Chief Inspector Mendoza had lost his sanity when he resorted into a Bus Hostage Saga yesterday. Losing his own life and 8 others in a bloody shootout is indeed horrible. Surely, this incident will create a new picture of the Philippines in the international view.  It is very unfortunate that this had to happen when our country is in the verge of reaching out for the best that is said to yet to come. When a new hope is brightly shinning in every Filipino faces. When the government is in the course of transforming itself into what P-noy says, “Tayo na sa tuwid na daan tungo sa kaunlaran”. Yet, this incident poses a great challenge not just for the government of the Philippines, but for every Filipino.

August 23, 2010, the crisis began when former Police Senior Inspector, a 55 year old Rolando Mendoza, seized a tourist bus on its stop at Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila, hijacking 26 of its passengers mostly Chinese nationals from Hong Kong. In the course of the drama at the famous Quirino grandstand, Mendoza released nine hostages, leaving behind at least 16 others. He later succumbed to a sniper’s bullet in his temporal lobe. His demands? Give him back the job.

Former Police Inspector Rolando Mendoza inside his hijacked bus

I feel terribly sorry, for the innocent victims. I cannot imagine myself being inside of that bus, in this very horrifying situation with an uncertain result where death is very vividly possible any moment. My heart goes to those who perished from this insensible death. This is indeed a very sad moment for the Philippines. This is very consequential in as much as international relations, investments, security and tourism factors are concerned.

According to Mendoza’s brother, another policeman Gregorio, his brother Rolando is very disappointed about his fate in his career after he was unjustly removed from service last January. Putting to waste all his 31 years of service and losing all his retirment benefits. Mendoza, a well decorated recipient of 17 awards and commendations whose house, according to son Police Officer Bismark, is full of laminated plaques, claimed he was not accorded due process.

One of the victims being transported by the Medics

In 2008, an administrative case was brought against Mendoza after he and 4 other policemen allegedly extorted PHP 20,000.00 from Christian Kalaw, a chef at Mandarin Hotel, who was also said to have been forced to swallow a sachet of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

The police officers involved, reportedly cited Kalaw for illegal parking, driving without a license and use of illegal drugs on April 9, 2008, in Manila.

The brother said, Mendoza even contemplated on filing an impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merciditas Guttierez for failing to serve him justice. Mendoza, in a phone interview with ABS CBN’s Jorge Carino hours before he was gunned down, said he wrote an appeal to Guttierez three times but never got a response, not even a copy of the Ombudsman’s final decision of his case. In desperation, Mendoza said his life is senseless.

The dead body of Rolando Mendoza half hanging on the doors of the bus

Again, everything goes back to the system where we are all in right now. Whoever or whatever inflicted it on us, be it the government, judiciary, legislative, poverty or corruption, I hope this lesson is well learned and never forgotten.

13
Aug
10

4 Reasons Why Merceditas Gutierrez Should depart as Ombudsman Head

Ombudsman Ma. Merciditas Navarro Gutierrez

As head of the country’s powerful Ombudsman office, Merceditas Gutierrez has failed to perform her mandate. The Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines is responsible to investigate and prosecute all government officials who defy the law of conduct. Unfortunately, Gutierrez’ leadership seems to be too weak to act on the many scandalous issues of corruption her office is handling. Is it primarily because her appointing officer, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is mostly involved? Or truly her weak personality dictates so? If this is the case, then moreso, she has no business heading the office.

Before we go any further, let me give you a little backgrounder about Ombudsman Gutierrez. Well, the good Ombudsman is very well known to have been a classmate to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, in the Ateneo School of Law, batch 1972. Of which, many believed to have been the reason why she got appointed to office. Also, Ombudsman Gutierrez, outstandingly rose ranks when she entered the Department of Justice as State Counsel to a senior position as Undersecretary. For two different instances, she was appointed twice as Secretary of Justice, filling up vacancies. All of which, GMA was the responsible appointing person, and Im afraid, also responsible to giving Gutierrez her career in the government.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

Recently, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago accused her of “criminal neglect”, for her  failure to act on the Senate’s recommendations regarding its inquiries into certain controversial cases, namely; the so-called “euro generals”, the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, the road user’s tax scam, and the scuttled National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp.

While the Filipino people painstakingly await the culprits to be punished, her office failed to comply with the Department of Justice’s Memorandum No. 12, which provides 60 days for the preliminary investigation of cases filed with the agency. Also, there is a shorter time frame under Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, which mandates that hearings be held within 10 days and terminated within five days. On all of these, Merceditas Gutierrez, simply did not care, at all.

A picture of Gutierrez being burned

While she always insists, she is doing her job, we see no action on the controversial issues that have cost our country millions of pesos, from the hands of corrupt officials. And for this, here are the four most controversial issues that remained hanging in her hands, that to me, constitute the four reasons why she should not stay as head of the Ombudsman, to wit;

1) FERTILIZER FUND SCAM

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, shortly before the 2004 elections was accused of favoring the congressmen and virtually buying their votes, when she authorized the release of PHP 728million to buy fertilizers and pesticides even though it was already during harvest season.Lawmakers with no agricultural constituencies allegedly availed of the assistance. Later, The Commission on Audit said the fertilizers were overpriced by 682 percent, or at P128 million.

In 2006 and 2009, the Senate Blue ribbon Committee, on two separate occasions, submitted a report and recommended the filing of administrative and criminal charges against former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante. It also said, that President Macapagal Arroyo should also be responsible for mismanagement of funds.

Nothing happened.

2) EURO GENERALS

On October 11, 2008, PNP Director and Comptroller Eliseo De La Paz was found carrying 105,000 euros (PHP6.9million), at the Moscow International Airport. He said, the money came from the coffers of the PNP for its delegation to the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg on Oct. 7-10. The money was confiscated.

Nothing happened.

3) $329Million NBN-ZTE PROJECT

Joey De Venecia and former government consultant Jun Lozada accused the then President’s husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, and then Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos of bribery and overpricing up to $130million to cover kickbacks.

Nothing happened.

I see no Mercy G.

4) ROAD TAX MISUSE

In 2009, the Senate endorsed a resolution asking the Ombudsman to charge with plunder Rodolfo “Dodi” Puno, then Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane and other members of the Road Board for misusing the road user’s tax. From 2001 to 2009, proceeds from the tax amounted to P60.5 billion.

The Commission on Audit, in 2008 reported on how the road user’s tax was spent. It said the Road Board violated “existing budget, auditing and accounting rules and regulations”.

Nothing happened.

Given all the above reasons as basis, I see no space at all, why Merceditas N. Gutierrez should remain as the Philippine Ombudsman. Thus, gives me the impression that she just stays in office all day long thinking new schemes on how to pervert justice.

Indeed, former Senate President Jovito Salonga and other civil society groups were right, when in March 2009, they filed impeachment charges before the Philippine Congress against Gutierrez, for mishandling of cases. Too bad, it did not prosper, just like the rest of the issues.




My standpoint


Mabuhay Pinoy

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