I would like to believe despite all the news available in the Philippines, majority of people working in the public service observe the high and moral road. Still, this everyday focus on corruption present in the country is not doing any good. Imagine the many potential foreign investors who are considering to invest in the country. It will take a lot more of thought and consideration will be required to disabuse their first thoughts of the country when they come across such news about it. Let’s hope they developed instead a different kind of hypocrisy where despite all the bad news reported they continue to believe good governance is alive and well in Asia’s funny country.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
September 23, 2014
The unending hypocrisy in government
ON MONDAY, the National Bureau of Investigation recommended the prosecution of National Food Authority (NFA) chief Arturo Juan for allegedly extorting P15 million from a rice trader to settle a profiteering charge. But the NFA boss has denied soliciting a bribe of P5 million each for him and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Presidential Assistant Kiko Pangilinan.
On the same day, a plunder and bribery complaint was filed against Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, for accepting donations to renovate the “White House” in Camp Crame that serves as his official residence. In reply, the PNP claims the renovated residence in Camp Crame is worth only P12 million, and not P25 million as alleged.
Purisima also allegedly owns a multimillion-peso “rest house” in Nueva Ecija, resulting in insinuations that he owns assets that are beyond his means or far in excess of his salary. Under the government’s “net worth” method, a mismatch in income in relation to assets owned or used is sufficient cause to initiate investigation for illegal wealth and/or tax evasion.
Messrs Juan and Purisima are two senior government officials now in the limelight for alleged corruption. Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of policemen was also in the news for allegedly extorting P2 million from a Mindanao-based trader during a supposed drug bust on EDSA. Prior to this, on and off there were news reports of corruption allegations versus public officers. Likewise ongoing is the trial for plunder of three senators, for allegedly using private groups to pocket billions of pesos in pork barrel funds.
And of course, there is the ongoing Senate inquiry into allegations of corruption against Vice-President Jojo Binay, when he was still mayor of Makati City. The charge of overpricing local projects and taking a cut from them was brought forth by former Makati City Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado, who also admitted to taking bribes himself and being the Mayor’s “bagman.”
One can only wonder when such allegations against people in government will finally end. Frankly, over time such news reports become seemingly less scandalous and more matter-of-fact. Corruption allegations are becoming “old” news, as if corruption is becoming a way of life in government, despite efforts to push “daang matuwid.”
One radio commentator couldn’t help but quip that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’s call for a lifestyle check on police officials is now for naught precisely because he “announced” it, as opposed to doing the checks discreetly and without the prior knowledge of people targeted for investigation. By announcing the initiative, it was as if Roxas gave the culprits a head start.
One tends to agree with the comment since there doesn’t seem to be any strategic or tactical value to publicly announcing the lifestyle check.
How can we expect the public to truly believe that corruption is waning when print, broadcast and online news continue to be peppered with allegations of malfeasance, corruption, and lack of accountability in government? Even social media has gotten into the fray, offering all sorts of information on government incompetence, inefficiency, and wasting or stealing of public funds.
Corruption reports have become a sort of bad joke, considering how this government trumpeted the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona for failing to disclose all his assets. Had legislators accepted Corona’s challenge to publicly disclose ALL their bank accounts, how many would have still passed the government’s “net worth” method?
Plainly and simply, the call to end corruption is just hypocrisy on the part of some elected and appointed government officials. For how can Purisima now call on his own troops to keep clean and honest when he himself is hard-pressed to explain his insistence on living in a P12-million “donated” residence and enjoying an expensive country “resthouse”?
Also, how can the Executive now call on appointed officials to live simple and honest lives when an agency chief like Juan, given the opportunity, allegedly extorts money in exchange for dropping charges against businessmen supposedly operating illegally and taking advantage of hapless consumers by selling them rice mixed with animal feed?
And how can President Aquino vow to pass an anti-dynasty bill as if passing legislation ending political dynasties is within his scope? All the while I was under the impression that making laws is the business of Congress. Isn’t it likewise hypocritical for the President to strike down political dynasties when his own first cousin now sits as senator? That he is a fourth-generation politician? That his parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents have been politicians?
The 1987 Constitution has long banned political dynasties, but still they exist, primarily for lacking an implementing law in the last 27 years. And now the President vows to make the present Congress finally succeed where all other Congresses since 1986 had failed? And of course, this effort has nothing to do with the present political circumstances of the Binay and Estrada/Ejercito families, among others?
Monitoring national news is now an activity that I do regularly for enjoyment rather than for work. National news has become a joke of sorts to me. For why else will the government insist on reporting out how much the President has spent for his trip to Europe and the US? Who cares about this, really? And why is it a national concern that the President may ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange? Again, who cares?
Talk about the government now and one is left with impressions of hypocrisy, pretensions, false virtue, posturing, lip service, sanctimoniousness, and fraud. The sad truth is that many local governments have banned the use of plastic bags for shopping in many localities, but they cannot seem to ban “plastics” in government.
Phonies in government have become a part of everyday life, and it doesn’t seem like there is a perceivable end to getting them elected, appointed, or hired. And while the crooks in public office laugh all the way to the bank, ordinary people are forced to grin and endure their corruption, inefficiency, incompetence and hypocrisy.
Marvin Tort is a former managing editor of BusinessWorld, and former chairman of the Philippine Press Council.
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