LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By: Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency
The unrelenting war against corruption
WHO ever said corruption in the government will be swept in two to three years must be dreaming. Not even with a magic wand can Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte do that. Corruption in the government bureaucracy was institutionalized by the BSA III administration. It is is a Herculean job for Duterte to dismantle it like all of us wish he would.
This week, I realized that there are over a dozen coalitions against corruption one of these took umbrage against me for putting to print the request of the Makati Business Club that their CAC is not behind the call for Department of Finance (DOF) Sec. Sonny Dominguez to resign.
This morning, the editorial desk of the Philippine News Agency sent me a a copy of the statement of the Coalition Against Corruption stating, among others, that they are registered with the SEC and is therefore not a bogus organization. They also countered that they never claim and do not wish to be associated with MBC which has its own CAC. This CAC asserted that far from being bogus, is composed of individuals who have consistently suppported the good governance of the President’s war on corruption. Listed as CAC Chairman is Manuel Obedoza also Chairman of VACC; Vice Chair is Alcia Risos, National president of Womens Lawyers Association of the Philippines; Lovensky Fernandez, President of Kilusang Pagbabago National Movement for Change; Enunina Mangio, VP for External Affairs and Treasurer; Nicon Famerong, VP for Internal Affairs; Monalie Dizon, Secretary; and John Rana, Public Relations Officer. The Members of the Board are Rosalina Bistoyong, Gonzalo Catan,Eddie Choa and Ma. Teresa Moncupa.
This SEC-registered CAC stressed that this was in fact organized in response to the call of President Duterte for private sector’s support in the War on Corruption.
Now that proper identities had been set, and having established that this CAC is not in fact bogus, I am extending my apologies to the organization for doubting your identity. That is not difficult to do as I have been a crusader against crime and corruption and as a writer based in Davao, have been even encouraged by Mayor Duterte, now President, to pursue that course. Having done my part to correct this misinformation, may I request CAC to kindly quote either the Chairman or President of your organization in your future public or press statement.
Now, let me proceed with the other item in this piece.
Two of the most corrupt agencies in the government are the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. The third is the Department of Public Works and Highways. The BOC of late became the focus of graft watchers not so much because it failed to hit its revenue collection targets but because shipment of illegal drugs slipped through Customs. Crime syndicates are not running short of creative ways aside from the art of bribery and threats. In retrospect, it is correct for President Duterte to place BOC under military supervision, although not as a permanent solution.
Reforms in the Bureau of Internal Revenue have been instituted. A number of administrative functions had been devolved to the Regional offices making it easier for taxpayers to deal with the BIR this time with even less personal contacts. This should have been fast-tracked in BOC, too. Paperless transactions meant less personal contacts and the possibility of “under-the-table” negotiations will be curbed.
But the good measure of success in how addressing corruption in BOC and BIR for example is their revenue collection performance. We could give an “A” to these agencies for they delivered what is demanded from their core functions. In the case of the DPWH, we measure there in terms of quality of work and speed. Let’s face it. When the Aquino administration exited, it left too many uncompleted projects. The skyways towards NAIA were heaps of concrete slabs, non-moving equipment and a handful of idle workers. It seems as if it will take eternity to finish the job. When Duterte government took over, suddenly machineries started humming and soon the projects took shape.
Corruption is being addressed and among the first victims are people associated with Duterte. Problem is that there are predators who are out to shake the foundation of the Duterte government. The President himself is a prime target of continued assault coming from some segments from the religious sectors, the Commission of Human Rights who perpetuate the farcical tale about the Davao Death Squads and the blown-up number of victims of extra-judicial killings and the grand coalition of political opposition and the CPP/NPA/NDF, in ousting Duterte.
Have we become so politically insane that even an off-the-cuff remarks of actor Aga Muhlach (suggesting that opposition like Antonio Trillanes just support the administration instead) was taken down from the Magandang Gabi Vice episode as though it is more offensive than the gory killings in the never-ending episode of ‘Probinsyano’ on prime time.