This time, it’s exposé over gov’t contracts, says bishop

This time, it’s exposé over gov’t contracts, says bishop
By Gabriel Cardiñoza
Inquirer Northern Luzon

DAGUPAN CITY—Four days before he was killed, illegal gambling witness Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor met with Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz to discuss another exposé.

This time, Cruz said, Mayor wanted the public to know about alleged irregularities in government contracts in Albay province.

Mayor, Cruz said, had become a government contractor in Albay after he blew the whistle on the supposed links of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s son and other officials to the illegal number game “jueteng.”

“We met last Wednesday (Feb. 24) and he told me that he had something that he wanted the public to know. This was about government-funded contracts in his place (Albay), which are cornered by just a few private contractors,” the archbishop said.

Cruz, the founding chair of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (People’s Crusade Against Jueteng), served as Mayor’s custodian after his Senate testimony in 2005.

He said he promised Mayor that he would try to find a forum where he could talk.

Cruz said that until Mayor’s death he had not been able to do it yet.

“When I heard over the radio that he had been shot and killed, I felt sad. But most of all, I became very angry,” Cruz told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

Cruz said he would verify Mayor’s report, which was given to him with details, including the names of contractors, projects and amounts involved.

“I’ll ask other sources. If these were the same things that Mayor had told them, I will come out in the open,” he said.

Cruz believed that Mayor’s death had nothing to do with the illegal numbers game. “I believe this has something to do with the contracts, and those who are cornering these contracts,” he said.

He said Mayor had also told him about ghost projects in Albay.

“He told me that a lot of money for development projects was given to his place but the projects are not there,” he said.

“There is only one message here: That if you expose any graft and corrupt practices, you better be careful. You might end up losing your life. The present administration has a new commandment: Thou shalt not tell the truth,” Cruz said.

When sought for a reaction to Mayor’s murder, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, a son of the President, said in a text message: “Didn’t he recant already? [Hindi ba] nagalit nga mga oposisyon sa kanya (Didn’t he court the ire of the opposition)? May he rest in peace.” With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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