The complainants who sought an investigation against outgoing provincial Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) federation president Jane Censoria Cajes are losing hope that their complaint will be acted upon by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP). Last Nov. 5, Manuel Ferdinand de Erio, Leo Udtohan, Edeliza Macalandag and Shem Quezon wrote Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim to request the SP to conduct an investigation and fact-finding initiatives on Cajes relative to three issues that they raised. De Erio and Udtohan were also the signatories of a complaint filed against Cajes before the Ombudsman regarding alleged unliquidated expenses in her capacity as national SK federation president. This include the request that the SP seek the intervention of the Commission on Audit to conduct an audit on registration fees, donations, annual dues and others as well as the expenditures of the SK provincial federation for the past three years.
Second, the complainants sought an SP investigation into transactions amounting to more than P50,000 made by the SK to determine if they underwent bidding as provided for under Republic Act No. 9148 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act and other laws.
Third, they brought into the attention of the SP the hiring of a certain Derom Dabalos as job order worker under the office of Cajes although he is allegedly working as a volunteer nurse at the Loon District Hospital.
“While we recognize the prerogative of Board Member Cajes to hire job order workers in her office, we see the hiring of Mr. Dabalos as unfair to the thousands of volunteer nurses who are serving in hospitals without salary or wages,” the complainants alleged in their letter. On Nov. 26, the complainants sent a second letter to Lim to refer their letter to the committee on public accountability “as originally requested”.
In their first letter, they specifically sought the investigation under the said committee chaired by Board Member Gerardo Garcia. “With due respect to the referral to the committee on government, we firmly believe that the issues raised in our letter must and should be handled by the Committee on Public Accountability which was created to cover cases whose complaints and respondents are provincial employees and other sectors,” they said in their second letter. Instead of allowing Garcia’s committee to investigate the complaint, the SP referred it to the committee chaired by Board Member Vencenzio Arcamo, a move viewed by observers with suspicion. Garcia is identified with the opposition bloc while Arcamo belongs to the administration which counts Cajes among its members.
The complainants’ suspicions heightened with the inaction of the committee and a move by the majority to commend Cajes as she prepares to step down from her controversial term. “It seems they are delaying action on the complaint until the election on Nov. 17 because the investigation will become moot and academic,” one of the complainants noted. Although they are losing hope in the SP, the complainants said they still have other venues for their gripes. As this developed, the complainants said that aside from Dabalos, they also found out that a certain Ma. Reina Torralba who was also hired by Cajes was “designated to render service in Leona O. Lim Hospital in Valencia, Bohol which is a privately owned and operated hospital.” The Leona O. Lim Hospital is owned by the family of the vice-governor.
“We believe that this act of hiring of a nurse who is paid by people’s money to work in a private enterprise or business is immoral and illegal,” they added. In their second letter, the complainants requested that the exit clearance of Cajes be withheld until such time that she has been cleared of money and property accountability as a public official. The complainants, who called themselves as the SK Reform Coalition, are widely perceived to be enjoying the support of a party list group identified with Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III. They have indicated their desire to write directly to the President to act on their grievances as a lesson for those who skirt the law that there is a time for reckoning. In the last election, Gov. Edgar Chatto led the Lakas faction that included the vice governor, former Trinidad Mayor Judith Cajes and incumbent Trinidad Mayor Roberto Cajes, parents of the national SK federation president. This Lakas faction also included Rep. Arthur Yap, who was Agriculture Secretary under ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Rep. Rene Relampagos, who has defected to the Liberal Party after taking over the post vacated by Chatto in the first district.