Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Ghost case
By Bong Lacson

Jul 25, 2017

EVERY POLITICIAN’S nightmare – a plunder case before the Ombudsman. Made worse with it splashed in media, and worst when screamed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Since 2014, that Pampanga mayor formerly known as “John Lloyd” has been living that nightmare.

P128-M plunder charge vs ex-Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo so headlined PDI on March 8, 2014 the story bylined Gil C. Cabacungan which, to this day, remains in the paper’s website. Former Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, a close ally of former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, has been charged with plunder in connection with P127.7 million worth of ghost projects that were supposed to be implemented in the last nine years.

The plunder case was filed in the Office of the Ombudsman by more than a dozen Candaba residents led by Arnold Canimo, who accused the former mayor of conniving with several individuals and corporations to embezzle government funds.

Canimo and his fellow complainants claimed that Pelayo had engaged several individuals and corporations for 11 separate contract agreements to establish, maintain, develop, rehabilitate and improve a demo farm at the Clark economic zone in Pampanga province, and construct, repair, rehabilitate and improve irrigation service roads, including the Barangca Bridge over Malisik River…

…According to the complainants against Pelayo, “equipment like hand tractors, irrigation pumps, planting materials, pesticides, seeds and the like that were supposed to be used for the demo farm, were not delivered to the municipality of Candaba.”

The scheme, the complainants added, had Pelayo’s crony corporations receiving funds from the Candaba municipal hall based on disbursement vouchers. The corporations would then deliver the funds to the Arroyo ally in exchange for a 3-percent handling fee.

“In sum, respondent Pelayo, then mayor of the municipality of Candaba, in connivance with respondent corporations, amassed, accumulated, and/or acquired ill-gotten wealth, in the amount of P127,753,914.64 through… a series of misappropriation and conversion,” the complainants claimed…

By all looks of it, a great expose of a grand wrongdoing there. Only, it did not happen. The ghost, not in the projects, but in the Ombudsman case.

“We waited for three years for a summon or subpoena asking us to comment on the case or to appear before the Ombudsman but there was none,” said Pelayo in a statement over the weekend. “So, I decided to go to the Office of the Ombudsman to inquire personally inquire on the case supposedly filed against me and I was issued a clearance stating I have no case – criminal or administrative – pending before it.” The Ombudsman clearance is dated June 27,2017.

A clear case of kuryente the PDI readily fell for, and how! Citing a plunder case filed before the Ombudsman absent any docket number, not even a receiving copy of the supposed complaint! Patently false news predating its very invention by two years in the Duterte era.

To right the wrong done him, Pelayo said he had filed a libel case against Canimo and his alleged cohorts before Quezon City RTC Judge Branch 224, “which upheld his case and ordered the arrest of his supposed accusers,” namely Canimo, Edgardo de Guzman, Gaudencio Lacanilao, Francisco San Pedro, Lorenzo Catacutan, Romeo Balatbat, Rufi no Pabalan, Dionisio Guevarra, Rodolfo Manalili, Jessie Laurente, Danilo Bartolome and Bernardo Santiago.

As to PDI, Pelayo merely asked that the paper “would do something about this.” After all, they were the ones who did this to me. Maybe they could take down that story from their website,” he said, still smarting to this day of the publication’s impact on his life.

Rues Pelayo: “I am no longer connected with politics for several years now. I manage my own business. But, unfortunately, whenever potential business partners search my name on the Internet, that particular story published by the Inquirer keeps popping up. So, I have to explain again and again what really transpired. And I even have to show my Ombudsman clearance and copy of the RTC decision ordering the arrest of my supposed accusers.”

As to his political rival whom he suspected of being the brains behind the “demolition case” against him, Pelayo defers to the Ombudsman.

His successor, one-term mayor Rene Maglanque who lost in the last polls, is currently entangled along with 25 others in a P900- million plunder case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam of Janet Napoles.

Some sweet revenge already for Pelayo there.

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