TAGBILARAN CITY – Word war arising from Salcon graft case filed by Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan involving then governor now Rep. Rene Lopez Relampagos, then vice-governor now Gov. Edgardo Chatto, then provincial baord member now vice-governor Concepcion Lim and other officials is heating up.
Both camps of the respondents of the criminal case and the complainants led by former governor Victor de la Serna traded barbs against each other, including character assassination unleashed by Capitol paid “mediamen” against the latter, a well-meaning political observer said. The observer, who asked not be named, said that the Capitol minions, including those in its media bureau paid by the Capitol funds, unload their arsenal in attacking those who are mouthing and repeatedly tackling Salcon graft case in their paid radio programs.
DYTR learned that Bohol News Today, which only served as the medium of the said case, appeared to be a victim of the Capitol tirades when one Ven “Rebo” Arigo, a paid Capitol writer, belittled BNT as 2nd district-based news daily. Counter-offensive
Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II took the cudgels in counter-offensive, apparently deviating from the Salcon graft case his boss is facing during the government-paid weekly press conference. He lengthily delivered an answer to the query of mediaman by saying that Dela Serna was convicted by the Supreme Court, which the latter denied and rectified that it was not a conviction.
Lawyer Levi Baligod, a former counsel of whistle-blower Benhur Luy of the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, advised the accused of the Salcon graft case to stick to the issue. Baligod, an advocate of good governance, visited here last week to promote community’s role in the fight against corruption in a forum held at BIT-IC gym.
“For the first time, the usually reserved Damalerio, himself a favorite target of De la Serna’s hard hits, also undressed the harsh critic, a bar topnotcher, as being “convicted” by the Supreme Court for accusing a justice of getting bribe over a Panglao property case,” according to the press release reaching BNT written by Arigo.
Damalerio said in vernacular that Dela Serna was convicted by the Supreme Court relative to a case of a property in Panglao.
“What Damalerio actually meant by conviction was the Supreme Court fine of P30,000 imposed on De la Serna for indirect contempt. He learned that in 2007, De la Serna accused Justice Dante Tinga of accepting a P10-million bribe in the Johnny Chan vs. Carmelita Fudot lawsuit regarding a land dispute in Doljo, Panglao,” Arigo wrote in the media bureau press release sent to BNT.
Dela Serna retorted in DYRD program Saturday over Damalerio’s accusation that he was convicted by the Supreme Court.
Damalerio did not understand what conviction means. He could not differentiate between conviction and “cited in contempt,” Dela Serna said.
He said he was not facing any charges in court. He explained that when an accused is facing a case it should commence at the lower court before it could reach the High Court.
Dela Serna admitted he was cited in contempt by SC and fined Php30,000 for calling then Justice Dante Tinga as crook. But it was not a conviction of a case, he explained.
Instead of hiding is being “cited in contempt” by SC, Dela Serna was bragging that such “contempt” was a badge of honor that not all lawyers can attain. He said he placed the said SC’s “Court Fine” in a frame and hang it at his sala.
He said that he paid the “contempt” in the amount of Php30,000 but the accused of Salcon graft case, if convicted, would face 7,300 days in jail.
The complaint against Bohol officials stemmed from the alleged under-valuation of the assets of Provincial Public Utilities Department’s power and water systems of the provincial government when it was dealt with Salcon consortium under the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) years back.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales signed the said criminal charge docketed as Criminal Case No. SB 15 CRM 0283 for violation of section 3 (g) of the Republic Act 3019, as amended, otherwise known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Section 3, par. (g) of said law provides that “Entering, on behalf of the government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.”
Aside from Relampagos and Chatto, other respondents include former provincial board members Arnold R. Lungay, Isabelito B. Tongco, Concepcion O. Lim, Eufrasio M. Mascarinas, Tomas D. Abapo, Jr., Felix R. Uy, Exequiel Madrinan, Francisco P. Alesna, Sr., Severino Caberte, Renato O. Lim and Lemuel E. Digal, according to a copy of the information. The last five defendants were reportedly already deceased.
Also charged as respondents of the said case were former provincial planning and development officer Juanito G. Cambangay (deceased), Lopez and Dennis C. Villareal, officerof the Construction of Salcon International Inc., Salcon Power Corp, Inc., and the consortium of Salcon Philippines, Inc and Salcon Ltd. (rvo)