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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Sad tale of a prosecutor

President Rodrigo Duterte has recently named several government officials allegedly involved in nefarious smuggling operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport ( Naia).

This is a welcome development for the Filipino public.

Kudos to the President who has shown time and again that he is serious in his desire to clean up our airports in all aspects.

We are just concerned because in the clean up effort, persons who have not been proven necessarily involved in the shenanigans at the airport are being needlessly dragged into the mess.

For instance, Assistant State Prosecutor Samina S. Macabando-Usman was named as one of the government officials being investigated over an alleged corruption incident at the Naia on May 4, 2018.

Why was she included in the alleged corruption incident? Because she visited her uncle, a customs employee who called for help when he was detained and investigated by the Naia Bureau of Customs operatives for alleged smuggling charges.

We were able to get a copy of Prosecutor Usman’s letter adressed to the President.

She explained that on May 4, 2018, personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) arrested Lomontod Macabando, a customs employee, on charges of smuggling of jewelry at the Naia. Mr. Macabando is her paternal uncle.

“It was only on May 6, 2018 at around 3:00 A.M. that Mr. Macabando called me up and requested that I visit him at the BOC-Naia Office as he was under arrest and will be brought to Pasay City Prosecution Office for inquest,” Usman saidProsecutor Usman pointed out that she went to the Naia just to provide moral support to her uncle and never introduced herself as a lawyer, much less a Department of Justice Prosecutor.

She identified herself as a relative, period.

Usman explained in her letter to President Duterte coursed through DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra, that the BOC has already terminated its fact-finding investigation and was ready with all the documentary requirements for inquest by the time she arrived.

No name-dropping, no influence peddling.

“I visited my uncle, the younger brother of my deceased father, at 7:00 A.M. that same day (May 6) out of respect and compassion.” Usman emphasized.

She never bandied about who she is. During her visit, Usman explained to her uncle that he has to go through the inquest proceedings.

At the time, the BOC has already terminated the fact-finding investigation and was ready with all the documentary requirements for inquest.

At around 10:00 A.M.,the suspect was transported to OCP-Pasay City and inquest was conducted. We understand her. We get it. We are Filipinos. That is the Filipino way.

When our relatives and friends holler for help, we come running. That is human, that is us, as Filipinos.

Who wouldn”t want to help a relative in dire need?All throughout the entire process, Usman, a San Beda law graduate like the President, pointed out that she never interfered, merely introducing herself as a relative of the suspect.

In fact, when asked to present an identification when she arrived, she gave her driver’s license issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO), not her DOJ identification card. She also did not intervene in any of the proceedings. In any case, how could she?

The investigation and documents were already done by the time she got there.

Here is the funny part : Mr. Macabando was CHARGED for smuggling and unlawful importation.

Usman said her only participation was standing as witness as part of BOC’s requirement, when they released her uncle following the receipt of the resolution from the Office of the Pasay City Prosecutor.

“I did not sign as a lawyer or a prosecutor, but I specifically indicated – “relative.””I welcome any investigation or avenue that would give me the chance to clear my name, “ Usman added.We hope that she will be given the opportunity to clear her name by Justice Secretary Guevarra and President Duterte.

Let us not be too harsh in judging her.Let her record at the DOJ speak for itself.

It is worth noting that she has never been implicated in any corruption-related case in the years that she has been with the national prosecution service.

Usman apologized to President Duterte for tainting the name of the DOJ and pointed out, “I will never use the DOJ name or my position in any situation that will compromise my integrity as a prosecutor.”

Our final take on this?Give this young mother of four a break and listen to her. Let not a very promising career be ruined needlessly.

After all, if there is something she can be accused of doing wrong, if at all, is just being there to provide moral support for a relative.

As for the Naia smuggling and corruption suspects, the government must continue the investigations by all means.

We can’t turn a blind eye to what is happening. Let’s just keep a clear eye and make sure those who are innocent are spared.

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