Office of the Ombudsman honors 5 for honesty
MANILA, Philippines – Five persons, including a Marine who died during military operations in Marawi City, were honored by the Office of the Ombudsman for their honesty
In the program called Aguhon ng mga Bagong Bayani on Thursday, Ombudsman Samuel Martires handed plaques and cash gifts to the parents of late 1/Lt. John Frederick Savellano, airport workers Sixto Brillante Jr., Ronald Gayadan, Grace Laxamana, and teenager Agustin Laude.
Savellano was credited as one of the Marines who surrendered at least P79 million worth of cash and checks found in a house believed to be occupied by Maute group leaders. Savellano was the platoon leader of the 37th Marine Company – Marine Battalion Landing Team 7.
Gayadan and Brillante work at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia). Laxamana works at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga. Gayadan had previously received several awards and citations for his numerous acts of honesty, with P2.4 million being the largest amount of money that he had found and returned to their owners.
Brillante found P400,000 while cleaning a comfort room in Naia, while Laxamana chanced upon the money which apparently belongs to an overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
Laude meanwhile made news for returning a bag with at least P300,000 when he was still a child.
According to Martires, the recognition and the P50,000 given to each of the honorees are not rewards but is a way of giving thanks for their integrity.
“‘Yon hong ibibigay namin ay hindi po pabuya yon. ‘Yon ho ay pasasalamat ng buong bansa, ng bawat Pilipino, na may mga taong katulad ninyo,” Martires told the awardees, who were present during the program.
“Pagpapasalamat ho ‘yon, hindi ko ho pera ‘yon, hindi ho pera ng Ombudsman ‘yon, pera ho ‘yon ng sambayanang Pilipino na inatasan kaming mamahala at ipamahagi sa mga taong dapat nating pasalamatan,” he added.
In the video presentation about the awardees, all of them echoed the same reasons why they chose to return the money, and not keep it for themselves. Gayadan in particular said he cannot afford to take the money because he did not even work for it.
“Kung tutuusin sabi nga nila sa akin na ito (money), pero sabi ko, may pangalan o wala, kailangang isauli kasi ang iniisip ko, pinagpaguran ng kababayan natin ‘yan, dapat talagang isauli ‘yon,” Gayadan noted.
“Saka hindi lang ‘yon eh, hindi ko naman pinagpaguran ‘yan eh,” he added.
Savellano’s parents meanwhile thanked the Ombudsman for recognizing the fallen Marine, as they thought people have already forgotten his deeds.
“Alam namin na hindi niya gagalawin ‘yong pera na ‘yon, kilala namin ‘yong anak namin talagang mabuting tao. Iba ‘yong mabait, iba ‘yong mabuti. Siya ay isang mabuting tao,” Savellano’s father said.
His mother shared that the soldiers under Savellano’s command initially wanted to divide the loot among themselves, but the platoon leader insisted on returning it to authorities.
“Actually no’ng na-recover nila ‘yong P80 million na pera sa Marawi, sabi ko sa kanya, don’t do anything that will harm your career. Kasi baka ma-tempt siya. Isa lang ang sinabi niya, ‘Ma pagkatao ko ang naka-salalay’,” Savellano’s mother said.
“Kasi no’ng time na nandoon ‘yong pera, sabi nila paghati-hatian na natin ‘yan. Pero sabi ng anak ko, hindi natin paghahati-hatian ‘yan, ‘yan ay isasauli natin nang walang labis, walang kulang. Nandito tayo para magtrabaho,” she added.
The awards are part of the Office of the Ombudsman’s values integrity program. As the agency responsible of the investigation of graft and corruption allegations in the country, Martires previously said that corruption in the Philippines can only be eradicated through a rigorous reformation program.
“Nakakalungkot na meron tayong mga nagsisilbi sa bayang ito, naka-handang mamatay, subalit binabale-wala natin habang sila’y buhay pa,” Martires lamented.
“Ito ‘yong ating mga bagong bayani, mga taong dapat nating tularan, mga taong huwaran, perfect example of integrity. Sana meron tayo no’n, sana meron tayong pagpapahalaga sa ating sarili, pagmamahal sa ating sarili doon nagsisimula ‘yon,” he added. /muf
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