Dead and Buried

SOLVING MURDERS are the territory of the police, but when the victim is a government graft and corruption investigator who was apparently killed in connection with his job, then it’s safe to assume his former colleagues would be keen to monitor the investigation of his case.

At least that’s what we thought when we were trying to find out what had happened to the case of murdered Batangas Provincial Ombudsman Guillermo Gamo: We checked the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO) at the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila. The PACPO, after all, has direct supervision over resident ombudsmen, which Gamo was one (a very active ombudsman at that) at the time of his death. We spoke to about three staff members of PACPO, but none of them had ever heard of Gamo’s killing, much less about the man himself.

We did finally find Vicky Roberto, who used to be in charge of the resident ombudsman program for Luzon but is now detailed at the main office. Roberto said that she had personally heard of the killing of Gamo. But asked whether there is a specific concern on the part of the Ombudsman’s office here in Manila to monitor the case or coordinate with the police’s investigation, she took a long pause before replying, “Umm…I can’t answer you on that, as I’ve been detailed to the central office since 2006. Maybe you should speak to Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, Fernandez.”

“Yes ma’am, but Mr. Gamo was killed in May 2005. At the time of his death, did you or your office make an effort to monitor the case?”

“No, none at that time. I just don’t know if after I left (that detail, in March 2006), there was a directive to monitor the case.”

As to speaking to Deputy Ombubsman for Luzon, Victor Fernandez, he was actually the PCIJ’s first stop. He was unavailable, but his staff said they were not familiar with Gamo’s case. They then referred us to someone else. — PCIJ staff