MANILA, Philippines - An investigation conducted by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology exonerated a jail officer of allegations that he participated in looting relief goods worth P35,000 meant for the victims of storm Sendong.
The BJMP Directorate for Investigation and Prosecution (BJIMP-DIP) conducted the probe after a Maguindanao Gold Daily reports written by Cong B. Coralles identified Jail Officer 1 Fortune B. Mendoza as one of three suspects in the looting of the relief goods.
In exonerating Mendoza, the BJIMP-DIP said the reports were "baseless, hearsay, and unsubstantiated."
The BJIMP-DIP investigation said states that Corrales admitted he was not physically present during the alleged "looting."
The report also said that Barangay Councilman Ricky Laude, whose name was also published in the news reports, also admitted absence during the incident and expressed surprise why his name was dragged in the story.
"The allegations of the writer of Mindanao Gold Daily against JO1 Fortune Mendoza has no bases, were hearsay, and had evidence to support such," the BJIMP-DIP said.
In an affidavit Mendoza claimed that he enlisted as a volunteer to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in its disaster relief operation for Sendong victims at barangay Consolacion, Cagayan de Oro City on January 13, 2012.
"I wanted to assist in the distribution of goods to fellow typhoon victims so I joined the team after my tour of duty," Mendoza said.
He said that the UNICEF truck was mobbed by residents who wanted more of the relief goods even after UNICEF declared a break in the distribution "because the crowd was getting rowdy and restless."
Mendoza said that on his way home, he saw the UNICEF truck swarmed by people and tried to break up the crowd.
Meanwhile, Consolacion Barangay chairman Cesar Pagpulaan, Sr. said he would summon all volunteers to clarify the issue, which Mendoza readily approved as an "opportunity to clear his name."