SAMAR — National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV), in a statement Monday, was elated over the sentencing of Samar second district representative Milagrosa Tan to up to 115 years in prison for the P16.1 million graft case over the anomalous procurement of emergency supplies without public bidding during her term as governor in 2001.
It was further revealed that the rice, medical supplies and other emergency supplies intended for victims of Typhoon Kidang were procured two months before the calamity, and the rice supply was procured from a small trader, hence making the delivery in just one go, improbable.
The Sandiganbayan has further disqualified Cong. Tan from holding public office, along with her convicted co-accused Rolando Montejo and trader-contractor Reynaldo Yabut.
But, NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas downplayed the graft case as “mere tip of the iceberg” of the Tan dynasty’s corruption in one of the poorest provinces in the country, and called the sentence as long overdue and nominal.
“The Tan dynasty through its matriarch Cong. Milagrosa Tan has been milking the province dry which further worsened the plight of Samarnons. The dynasty’s tight rein on Samar has plagued the province long enough that their corruption extends from the province up to the barangay councils in a vicious cycle. To maintain the symbiosis of bureaucrat capitalism, Cong. Tan offers to invest millions per mayoral post in elections, and in exchange, her winning bet pledges not only his allegiance to the dynasty, but the entire internal revenue allotment of the municipal government. To ensure promptness, Cong. Tan would often dispatch her own trusted aide to act as administrative officers rendering the mayors inutile. In fact, a few mayors have already expressed dismay that they are acting as local executives in name only,” the NDF-EV said.
“It is also an open secret in Samar that majority of infrastructure projects in the province are controlled by Cong. Tan through dummies, taking hold of licenses by paying a token royalty to those they are able to coerce, thus earning hundreds of billions in a single term alone. A few close political associates of Cong. Tan also benefit from this set-up, by being the subcontractors of subcontractors, a wholesale-retail method of corruption that drains public funds. For private contractors, Tan demands a 30 to 40% cut on all infrastructure projects paid upfront. Hence, the plethora of unfinished roads and other infrastructure projects in Samar, often joked by contractors as 50-50 road projects since only half are implemented while the unfinished half await the next elections for possible funding. And it is too easy for the Tans to blame these unfinished projects on the revolutionary movement once corruption is exposed. Furthermore, their new flagship program SPARK Samar which focuses on the plunder and exploitation of Samar is sure to serve as a sustainable milk cow now that the dynasty has expanded from infrastructure to eco-tourism,” Fr. Salas said.
Fr. Salas also noted that this decades-long culture of corruption and impunity of the dynasty in Samar is enjoyed by the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army whom the Tans coddle.
“Some generals and high-ranking officials in the 8th ID are beneficiaries of these sweetheart deals by acting as contractors and subcontractors of these projects through the OPAPP and PAMANA,” he said.
Fr. Salas added that the people of Samar have a long standing demand for Cong. Tan to issue a public apology for being a passive governor during Palparan’s reign of terror in Samar.
“While some elected public officials acted as staunch defenders of human rights for their constituents, the then governor acted silent through and through despite the mounting cases of human rights violations commited by the 8th ID PA. The dynasty also coddles and finances a number of private armed groups such as the one in Matuguinao and the Montealto armed goons, victimizing not only their political opponents but also peasants and suspected supporters of the revolutionary movement,” Fr.Salas said.
Fr. Salas also said that with the timing of the conviction just months ahead of the elections, the people of Samar are in doubt that the wheels of the reactionary justice system with roll against the dynasty.
“The conviction is one thing, the certainty of justice being served is another. The people of Samar have to remain vigilant and demand an end to corrupt and reactionary politicians, not just Cong. Milagrosa Tan, who act as overlords at the expense of the people.” Fr.Salas observed.