1-year-old plunder case gathering dust

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January 24, 2014 marks exactly a year since we filed a plunder case against the spouses Gov. Antonio H. Cerilles and Rep. Aurora E. Cerilles before the Ombudsman, a fitting response to President Aquino’s “daang matuwid.”

For this, we sacrificed our careers in government and the safety of our families. In retaliation, Governor Cerilles has been withholding our salaries for a year now, bringing untold suffering to our families. This despite Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s intervention, citing employment term guarantees under Republic Act No. 6981, more commonly referred to as the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.

Also, a case witness and our co-complainant’s sister were brutally murdered.

Further, while we are languishing in the Department of Justice-Witness Protection Program’s safe house, the Cerilleses are still in their posts. And we hear they continue to loot public coffers (sharing the spoils with their accomplices in the judiciary), manipulating documents related to the case and even enjoying vacations abroad.

The irony of it all—the plunder case (docketed FF-C-13-0068 and FF-C-13-0069) is stuck at the fact-finding stage after one year. And so with the other graft charges against the couple filed by other complainants much earlier than the plunder case, which are now gathering dust at the Ombudsman. We have written the Ombudsman a dozen times to follow up on our case. And many times we have written President Aquino, requesting him to wield his persuasive influence, or to intervene, to speed up the filing of our case and many others already filed in the Sandiganbayan. Nothing has happened!

We can’t help therefore being unsettled after watching on TV the President deliver his New Year’s greetings and report to his “Boss,” more particularly on his antigraft campaign. With the snail-paced treatment of graft cases, even allowing accused public officials to remain scot-free, perhaps, it’s now time for the President to get rid of  his cordon sanitaire and see for himself whether or not his “daang matuwid” is really leading this nation to the corrupt-free government he once promised.

—ROGELIO P. MONTEALTO, provincial budget officer, PEDRO D. RAMIREZ JR., OIC-provincial treasurer, BERNADETTE R. ORDOÑEZ, provincial accountant,

Whistle-Blowers of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur,

c/o Vera Cruz Legal & Accounting Office,

6 Onyx St., Northview I, Batasan Hills, Diliman, Quezon City

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