Chosen officers and staff of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) have always believed what Martin Luther King Jr. once quoted, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is why trusting the due process is what the rest of the 18 concerned parties, all from the Federation’s National Headquarters have all cared for—and this is why their efforts have resulted in victory.
In a 17-page resolution released by the Office of the Ombudsman, case no. OMB-C-C-15-0112, allegations of Malversation of Public Funds or Property; Failure of Accountable Officer to Render Accounts; Violation of Section 3 of RA 3019 against the late Col. Emmanuel V. de Ocampo, former VFP President, Veterans Bonifacio G. De Gracia, then-Executive Vice President, Michelangelo H. Siscar, VP-Finance, Pablo E. Salamat, General Manager of VFP-Industrial Complex, Manuel D.C. Gonzales, Procurement Officer, Jose L. Querubin, Administrative Officer, Walfredo S. Aningalan, Real Estate Inventory Officer, Francisco T. San Miguel, Orestes F. Lopez and Charlemagne Y. Batayola, together with Ms. Antonio C. Del Mar, Head Executive Assistant and Former Assistant Treasurer General, Federico C. Rubio, Chief Accountant, Ma. Jocelyn B. Oh, Budget Officer, Cicero D. Claro, Legal Researcher, Bernadette L. Valiente, Human Resource Management Officer, Jeffrey G. Sarmiento, Supply Officer, Agapito M. Perez, and Arvin L. Celino were dismissed.
The criminal case filed against VFP’s “Magic 18” was quashed in its early stage deemed as preliminary investigation in legalese or legal parlance. Filed in 2015, when then- VFP President Col. Emmanuel V. de Ocampo was alive, the case which had more than 10 complainants including a non-government, non-sectarian organization to back it up, the affidavit stated that “Respondents took advantage of their official positions to amass, accumulate, and acquire for themselves, directly or indirectly, more than P50M from the VFP funds by diverting, receiving, misappropriating, converting and misusing the same for their personal gain and benefits.”
In a statement released by the VFP-Public Information Office, Col. Bonifacio G. De Gracia, who succeeded Col. de Ocampo’s presidency, said, “The term Magic 18 came from some of the veterans who have always believed that the management of VFP has always been innocent right from the start.”
“Magic 18 because there were 18 of us against their numerous accusations and numerous complainants and we have always believed in serving the veterans with righteousness,” he added.
According to the Office of the Ombudsman’s resolution, “The second, third and fourth elements of Malversation are absent.” The graft court also found that the second element to establish Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code is lacking. It said that “The COA Reports merely showed the figures of outstanding cash advances as of the date of audit without identifying the persons accountable therefore.”
In closing, Col. De Gracia, after knowing that the case filed against his constituents has been dismissed, said that the VFP Family feels, “Blissful and at peace because truth has been served.”