Whistleblower's murder linked to pork barrel 'scam'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2010 12:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2010 09:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A retired priest on Monday said the murder of jueteng whistleblower Wilfredo "Boy" Mayor in Pasay City illustrates the dangers faced by a government witness years after giving his testimony in a congressional probe.

Former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he believes Mayor was killed because he was about to expose an alleged anomaly regarding construction projects in Albay that were funded using the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) pork barrel.

"[Mayor] said there was a big corporation that is bagging all the construction projects in Albay. All the construction projects were his [big contractor] so all the small contractors had no more business. It was a monopoly. There were ghost construction projects," he told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.

Cruz was quick to point out that Mayor failed to show any evidence about the alleged anomaly. He added, however, that he is convinced that the whistleblower was killed because of what he knew about the scam.

"I believe this has nothing to do with jueteng. I believe it has everything to do with the projects scam of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) because a lot of money was involved," he said.

Cam identifies contractor

Another jueteng whistleblower, Sandra Cam, meanwhile, said Mayor identified a certain Zaldy Co as the contractor who is allegedly cornering all the government contracts in the Bicol region.

She said Mayor called her up last week and explained that he was fearful for his life because he had an argument with Co's brother over a construction contract.

"What he said was -- mabigat ang dibdib niya ngayon dahil nagkasaguta sila ng kapatid ni Zaldy Co. I only met Zaldy Co at the birthday of the congressman of Masbate," she told radio dzMM.

She added that Mayor, who has a small construction firm, was promised a P40 million government contract after he had already given money to some DPWH officials.

"When the money arrived, the regional director of DPWH said he could not give [Mayor] the contract because all contracts go to Zaldy Co," she said.

Cam said she and Mayor talked to Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo about the matter, but the latter asked for hard evidence before publishing anything. She said Mayor promised to provide documents in the first week of March but he was killed before he could follow through.

Mayor had just left the City State Hotel and Casino in Malate, Manila around 4 a.m. with his nephew, Rommel Paje, and son-in-law, Allan Benedict Castro, when two motorcycle-riding men opened fire at their Volvo vehicle.

Mayor was declared dead on arrival after being brought to the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City.

Cam fears for her life, too

Cam, meanwhile, said she is also fearing for her own life after Mayor"s killing. She said the Philippine National Police had yet to honor her request for a security detail.

"I have nothing except my driver. I have to take a boat and then a motorbike to get home. I will pass through hills to get to my house in Masbate and everybody knows that Masbate is a hotspot," she said.

She also noted that politicians in Masbate who are angry at her could use the controversy to exact revenge against her.

Mayor and Cam earlier testified during a Senate hearing years ago about the involvement of First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo in jueteng in the Bicol region. Mayor and Cam were then under the protective custody of Cruz and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Cruz said that of the 5 Senate witnesses that testified in the jueteng hearings, 2 recanted their testimonies while only one, Mayor, was killed. 

"Even if you have security, if people want you dead, you can't do anything about it. For future whistleblowers, if you have a family, you have to think about you decision a hundred times. It's not a problem if you are alone. Once you make that decision to come out, your life will be in danger even after your testimony," he said.