New irregularity at MMDA; something stinks at Pasig prosecution office
As long as Francis Tolentino is the head of the Metro Manila Development Authority, the traffic problem in the national capital region will only get worse. Tolentino’s attention is on his undeclared campaign for a seat in the Senate in the May 2016 elections under the administration Liberal Party.
Weeks ago, Tolentino was in Cebu, attending an affair with President Benigno Aquino III. On another occasion, Tolentino was in Bicol. In both instances, Tolentino failed to explain why he was not at his post at the NCR. Perhaps, Tolentino was in Bicol to press Leni Robredo to run as vice president under the LP.
In a clumsy attempt at damage control, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma defended Tolentino’s trips to the provinces. Coloma told the news media that since Tolentino is a government official, he can make provincial sorties. The government apologist likewise said that Tolentino goes to the provinces to share his expertise in disaster preparedness.
Coloma’s explanation is nonsense. An official assigned to fix up the traffic mess in Metropolitan Manila must stay in the metropolis. How can Coloma sincerely label Tolentino as an expert in disaster preparedness when he is unable to prepare residents of Metropolitan Manila for the traffic disasters each time he skips his duties as MMDA chief?
Tolentino’s frequent absence at his workplace is bad enough. Worse, several anomalies have been surfacing in the MMDA during his watch.
Months ago, the MMDA acquired several motorcycles for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Manila. Each motorcycle cost the taxpayers P400 thousand. That’s far more expensive than most of the high-end motorcycles available in the market. Besides, why would the MMDA need those very expensive motorcycles for a brief international conference?
Recently, the news media discovered that P20 million worth of traffic lights belonging to the MMDA ended up in Legazpi City in Bicol. Tolentino has not been able to explain this anomaly.
The latest anomaly in the MMDA involves the wastage of taxpayers’ money. According to the Commission on Audit, the MMDA wasted P803 thousand to beautify the Circulo del Mundo Rotunda along Andrews Avenue near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The beautification project called for the installation of expensive, stylish park lamps and several trees back in August 2012 and July 2013. That beautification was a wastage of public funds because the rotunda was demolished in January 2014 to give way to the NAIA expressway.
CoA auditors assert that the MMDA was aware that the NAIA expressway project was already approved by the National Economic Development Authority in May 2012, and that construction will start by January 2014. In other words, the MMDA knew that there was no need to beautify the rotunda because it was going to be demolished soon. By proceeding with the beautification project, the MMDA wasted public funds.
MMDA officials said that the expensive, stylish park lamps were installed to improve the peace and order situation in the area, and that they used the rotunda for a nursery for its tree-planting project. State auditors debunked this explanation by stressing that if peace and order were the reason cited by the MMDA, the agency should have installed cheaper, lighting fixtures which provide enough illumination, and not the expensive, stylish, park lamps which did not provide enough lighting.
As for the alleged tree nursery, the auditors revealed that the MMDA purchased 15-foot tall trees, which are meant for a mini-forest and botanical garden. A nursery, the auditors explained, is a place where trees are propagated and grown to a usable size. They pointed out that the trees purchased by the MMDA did not need a nursery.
It looks like Tolentino may be facing numerous anti-graft charges even before he can officially declare his bid for a seat in the Senate.
An anomaly is brewing inside the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City because of a baseless complaint for estafa against a policeman. From the documentation available, it appears that a couple from Barangay Pinagbuhatan bought a condominium unit from a businesswoman who, according to the couple, was introduced to them by the policeman at some past social occasion. The couple alleged that the payment was undertaken through a branch manager of a local bank.
When the couple discovered that the condominium unit was already mortgaged before they bought it, they wrote a letter to the businesswoman and to the bank official. In the letter, the couple threatened to sue both the businesswoman and the bank official for estafa.
After learning that the businesswoman absconded, the couple filed a complaint for estafa against the businesswoman, the bank official, and the policeman. They included the policeman purportedly because they would not have bought the condominium unit from the businesswoman if they did not meet her, and they would not have met the businesswoman if the policeman did not introduce her to them.
The complaint is accompanied by annexes consisting of title deeds and correspondences between and among the couple and the bank official. There is nothing in the annexes which mentions the name of the policeman, or which bears his signature. Even the dates mentioned in the complaint conflict with the allegations.
According to the resolution issued by the investigating prosecutor, there is no evidence to show that the policeman conspired with either the businesswoman or the bank manager to commit estafa. Despite this finding, however, the investigating prosecutor ruled that both the businesswoman and the policeman should be charged with estafa. Good grief! Where is the logic there? That’s injustice plain and simple.
The policeman is expected to seek a reconsideration soon. Hopefully, the city prosecutor will undo the injustice visited upon the policeman. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.