MALAYBALAY CITY (16 May) – Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has asked President Aquino not to appoint to key government posts persons who are facing graft charges in court. The call came as the one-year ban on appointing candidates who lost in the May 2010 elections nears and amid apprehensions the new appointments would be made as an act of political gratitude. A commendable move on the part of Zubiri, but a few important details should not be left unsaid and a question or two need to be asked.

Was it mere coincidence that Zubiri’s call followed an open letter in a newspaper bearing the same message and coming from a group calling itself the Bukidnon Crusade Against Crime and Corruption? The letter, signed by Fr. Venancio Balansag Jr. and Felix Vergara, asked the President not to appoint former Bukidnon congressman Nereus Acosta as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for alleged corruption.

Acosta happens to be a political opponent of the Zubiris. He and Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., the senator’s father, fought for the governorship in 2007. The elder Zubiri went on to win his third term.

Family ties may not have anything to do with Balansag’s role in the publication of the open letter. But if only for purposes of transparency, the priest should have revealed that his sister is the wife of Malaybalay City Mayor Ignacio Zubiri, the senator’s first-degree cousin.

Vergara on the other hand is a political ally of the Zubiris. Before becoming a board member of the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative he worked at the office of then vice mayor and now Mayor Alicia Resus of Maramag town. The good mayor is a distant relative of Balansag’s. In the 2010 elections Vergara was also a nominee of Atong Paglaum, a party-list supported by the Zubiris.

Balansag and his group should also explain why they brought up the cases against Acosta only now that he is about to be appointed to the DENR. The first time the group raised the graft case against the former congressman was in 2004, shortly before the election that year. Acosta still won against the candidate supported by the Zubiris.

There had been no noise coming from the Bukidnon Crusade Against Crime And Corruption since 2004 on the cases against Acosta. Until now. Hence I’d willingly bet my last centavo that the group – and whoever is behind it – would lapse once more into another self-induced coma after the issue of Acosta’s looming appointment reaches its conclusion.

May I ask too why Balansag’s group has only targeted Acosta’s alleged wrongdoings? The deliberate selectiveness is disturbing. Sorry to say, but their brand of advocacy leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Sotto’s inane reasoning

Senator Tito Sotto recently exposed that the budget for family health did not reach its beneficiaries from 2008 to 2010 owing to corruption, a reason, he said, not to pass the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.

If that’s the case, the government should shelve all its programs that are also tainted with corruption. It should stop building infrastructure, releasing allocations to development projects of local government units, and buying textbooks for public schools because these are also prone to graft. Why train the guns only on reproductive health? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])