By Czarina Nicole Ong
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio believes Atty. Edna Batacan pocketed the P8 million “parking fee” that she bared was paid to an Ombudsman so that the investigation to a case would be put on hold.
The said “parking fee” was for Ombudsman prosecutors to drag out the investigation of the case so that it would eventually be dismissed due to inordinate delay when it finally reaches the Sandiganbayan.
Topacio was subpoenaed by the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office Thursday afternoon in order to share his thoughts regarding the controversial issue. After the closed-door meeting, the lawyer talked to members of the media at the Office of the Ombudsman in Agham Road in Quezon City.
“Hindi ako naniniwala na may humingi mula sa Ombudsman ng P8 milyon (I don’t believe anyone from the Ombudsman asked for P8 million),” he said. “Ang palagay ko it was just a ploy on the part of Atty. Batacan to secure that money from my client and to appropriate it for herself (I guess it is just a ploy on the part of Atty. Batacan to secure the money from my client and to appropriate it for herself).”
He said that Batacan was fired due to that “parking fee,” and he does not believe she resigned as an Ombudsman prosecutor like what she claimed before the Judicial Bar Council (JBC).
“That is what I believe, direktahan ‘yun (it went straight). ‘Yun ang common client na hininge niya, sinabi niya para i-dismiss ang kaso, hindi i-file. So nung nakakuha ng P8 million, filed pa rin until she was fired (She asked from a common client so that a case would be dismissed. When she got the P8 million, the case was still filed and she was fired). She was fired, because of that incident and the fact that she asked for P1 million for xeroxing,” he said.
Despite Batacan’s claims of corruption, Topacio stressed that he has not lost faith in the Office of the Ombudsman. “I reiterated my faith and integrity in the probity of the Office of the Ombudsman as an institution,” he said.
He had been very vocal about his criticisms about the office in the past, but Topacio clarified that it was directed against former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Now that former Sandiganbayan Justice Samuel Martires is leading the office, the lawyer said he has “full faith” the issue would be resolved.
“No more parking to speak of. ‘Yan ang magandang reporma, at pag napatupad ‘yan ni Ombudsman, ‘yan ay maipatupad niya within the first year of his term, ay napakalaking bagay na po (That is good reform, and if the Ombudsman accomplishes it within the first year of his term, it would be a big deal),” said Topacio.