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Whistleblower in unsettled plunder charge losses faith in Ombudsman

By Manuel T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI City --- Describing himself already at peace with the remaining ordinary small time employees who were pathetically linked in the unresolved plunder case encompassing two presidency, a whistleblower said he had already lost his faith on the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Whatever would be the outcome, I have learned so much from the endured pain and frustrations one have to accept in stride,” said a whistleblower on the plunder complaint lodged at the Ombudsman office more than 10 years ago.

Complainant Roberto Canezal recalled how he got involved in a corruption scandal when his office dared to assemble cannibalized equipment to disguise it as brand new, using unused, recycled and surplus spare parts retrieved from junk declared equipment, which the Department of Public Works and Highways paid as new purchases, in cahoots with the Commission on Audit. “Yes, We have done it at the Masbate Area Equipment Service where I was the only mechanic and equipment operator for 22 years as of the year 2012 when the plunder complaint cropped up.

This was the chilling revelation in a dozens of documents, including photos and testimony of a public works and highways mechanic based in Masbate, who figured decade ago in a plunder complaint against 42 top Bicol DPWH executives and employees.

“I am now stress-free and at peace with the remaining small time ordinary workers of the Masbate Area Equipment Office who were implicated in the case, while the implicated top executives from regional director to division chiefs and members of the Bids and Awards Committee, all able to retire peacefully undisturbed by the plunder case, said Canezal in a recent text message, when asked about the development of his case.

The documents along with the complaint filed before the office of the Ombudsman on June 18, 2012, placed the plundered amount at 150 million, which included among others the misappropriation of equipment rental using faked receipts, cannibalization of functional equipment to obtain new purchases of spare parts, and sales of repairable equipment declared as junk. Canezal, the lone mechanic of the Masbate Area Equipment Service said he was a partner in crime at that time he was in good graces with his superiors, adding that as a mechanic, they have assembled two drilling equipment already declared as junk by using recycled spare parts and surplus chopped-chop from old repairable equipment. The complainant said payment of P15 million was issued by the DPWH regional office, which the perpetrators gallantry succeeded in projecting the reassembled junk equipment as new purchases.

The documents showed Canezal filed the plunder case on June 18, 2022, a few months after the DPWH regional office hastily bid out on March 29, 2012 the entire chop-chop equipment at the equipment pool in Masbate, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte in an effort to destroy the physical evidences. Worse, the chop-chop equipment was bid out for an insulting P858,058.00 only, said He said the declared junk equipment and parts was hastily bid out, after efforts from the regional office failed to neutralize me from exposing the equipment scandal, backed by documents and photos, lamenting that even the recommendation of a DPWH prober to form a fact finding probe composed of the NBI, COA and DPWH was outright junked by the regional director.

Canezal efforts to be included in the Witness Protection Program proved unsuccessful, saying one of the executives implicated in the case was very close to a presidential brother in law.

Canezal recalled how he suffered so much pain for taking the cudgels in exposing and subsequent filing of the plunder case motivated by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino slogan against corruption dubbed as Tuwid na Daan. In retaliation, he said, I was suspended twice during the Aquino administration on manufactured charges, after resisting efforts to have me withdrawn in the case.

According to Canezal, a lawyer from the Office of the Secretary visited me in Masbate with a favour, in exchange for my withdrawal in the case. Failing to get my nod, a 3rd suspension order developed, however, not served in a hope to calm down my quest for justice. The 3rd suspension order for 30 days came out only a few months following the election of President Duterte in May 2016.

I have longed wish for the Ombudsman to issue resolution even for dismissal as early in 2015, for the sake and peace of mind of the remaining affected ordinary workers in Masbate, after I noticed that many of the top regional executives had already filed retirement successfully, but I have not received any notice from the Ombudsman.

Canezal said that 4 years into the Duterte administration without notice of the case status from the Ombudsman, I thought of retiring already at age 56. It was not realized.


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