By MANUEL L. CABALLERO
NOT SPECIAL SARA DUTERTE SPECIAL SUBJECT IN SOCIAL MEDIA PAST TWO WEEKS; “NAGHIHINTAY NG RESIBO AND BUONG PILIPINAS”-SEN. HONTIVEROS TO VP DUTERTE & COMPANY; UPAAA WILL HAVE PH FORMER VP AND CURRENT UP PRESIDENT AS SPEAKERS (IN PERSON) DURING REUNION NEXT MONTH IN NJ
We will start this week’s “On My Watch” with corruption, and end with corruption, an unpleasant notorious issue of the day.
An old quote says that “corruption comes by degrees.” No, not in the native country. In the PH, it comes by millions of pesos. Hundreds of millions. The burning issue of VP Sara Duterte requesting the Office of BBM to transfer P125 million from the latter’s Confidential Funds to her office last December, less than six months after assuming office, and reportedly spent the whole amount in 11 days, can be discussed here.
Making the said exercise worse, a congressman, a genuine one, pointed out that the transfer of P125 million was illegally done for it violated existing laws on such movement of funds. Worst, Ms. Duterte cannot explain convincingly how and where she spent the taxpayer’s monies in eleven days as reported by the Commission on Audit.
Thus, Senator Risa Hontiveros, who grilled the VP during a recent Congressional Budget Hearing, said “NAGHIHINTAY NG RESIBO AND BUONG PILIPINAS.” The brave senator was obviously referring to convincing and believable explanations from Ms. Duterte as to how she spent the P125 million and why does the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is asking for hundreds of millions in Confidential Funds in its 2024 budget when her predecessor finished 6 years in office without Confidential Funds with many accomplishments?
Perhaps, like his father, the former mayor feels she is still in Davao where the Dutertes ruled as if they owned the place and that they were the law. This attitude, which was observed during the presidency of her father, is the reason why the old man is facing possible prosecution for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague because of his EJKs (Extra Judicial Killings).
These past two weeks, and still going on, VP Sara has been the object of embarrassing and insulting commentaries from Filipinos in social media. One of the numerous postings referred to the Vice President as a “Money-Eating Eagle.” There are demands for her to step down. Though no charge of corruption has been filed against the VP as yet, the bar of public opinion points toward corruption in their reactions and comments.
In an article in the New York Times in December 1993 titled “Is Brazil Hopelessly Corrupt?” writer Roberto de Matta wrote, “Corruption is never an individual act. It always involves groups of people bound by one fundamental rule of association; an exchange of favors. This collective corruption is founded on traditional morality, well-established friendships and the opportunity at hand. It allows crimes to be practiced with impunity and is characterized by intolerable arrogance.”
Is the Philippines hopelessly corrupt?
After writing the above, the following story appeared in PhilStar (9/28/23):
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on final reading on Wednesday the proposed P5.7-trillion national budget for next year, with House leaders agreeing to take away the confidential funds sought by Vice President Sara Duterte's two offices.
House committee on appropriations chairperson Rep. Elizaldy Co (Ako Bicol) said the confidential funds earmarked for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education, which total P650 million, would be realigned to agencies that focus on national security and the defense of the West Philippine Sea.
The bar of public opinion was heeded, but only on the 2024 OVP budget, not the P125 million. Where is that money now? According to reports, it was all spent by the OVP in 11 days! Really?
In less than a month, (Oct. 19-22), Former Vice President Leni Robredo, the PH VP who finished her 6-year term without confidential funds, but accomplished many, and Angelo A. Jimenez, President of University of the Philippines, will come to New Jersey to speak before their fellow UP alumni. The UP Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) will hold its biennial Grand Reunion and Convention (GRC) at New Brunswick Hyatt Regency.
Calling UP Alumni in our area to attend. Please check the UPAAA in social media or Google on how to obtain attendance tickets.
As practiced during every GRC, UPAAA shall “grant awards to distinguished alumni and give special recognition to individuals who are embodiments of the Oblation, serving with pride, remaining strong and bold amid strife and challenges.”
Due to space, we will name the honorees next issue.
English writer Samuel Johnson cannot be more correct when he said. “Praise and money, the two powerful corrupters of mankind.”