Cracks in the wall-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, September 9, 2013
WITH reference to the pork barrel issue the CBCP tells us:
“We are not just victims of a corrupt system. We have all, in one way or another, contributed to this worsening social cancer - through our indifferent silence or through our cooperation when we were benefitting from the sweet cake of graft and corruption.”
The bishops are hard on us and perhaps we deserve it. I am not sure that corruption is worsening but it is a cancer and we are not addressing it effectively.
Our “indifferent” silence. Is this a fair criticism? Not entirely. Firstly, we are not silent. There was a mass gathering on August 26 and there is due to be another this Wednesday. Are we indifferent? I don't think so. We care. Unfortunately there is a sense of fatalism. But a submissive attitude towards the inevitability of events is misplaced. We can make a difference, both as individuals and collectively.
Last week's entrapment operation involving employees of the Office of the Building Official by NBI agents was an example. The amount of “grease money” involved was small but corruption is corruption and victory over allegedly corrupt officials is helpful in the fight against graft. I hope this is just the beginning. LTO officials or those who purport to be LTO officials should realize that NBI sting operations can happen any time.
It is worth recording the mechanism by which last week's event took place. It began when intended victims of OBO wrote to the City Council about alleged irregularities at OBO. The SP contacted the NBI who mounted the operation that resulted in the arrests.
There may have been an “eminence arise” behind the scenes. Not all those who aspire to be whistleblowers are able to gird relevant government instrumentalities into action. So why was this one successful?
Past presidents, especially FVR and GMA, knew that controlling the price of rice was a vital component in ensuring social stability. They both worked hard to ensure that rice prices were not allowed to increase.
GMA may have been a control freak but at least as far as rice distribution was concerned there was a semblance of discipline. Now it seems that there is a free-for-all with the middle man, as usual, being the profiteers.
If PNoy thinks he is having problems about the pork barrel, this is nothing compared to the social unrest that will be evident unless he gets a grip on the price of rice.
Specifics. Bacolod's bourgeoisie, used to paying P40 per kilo for their beloved Dinorado rice have found that over the past three months it has risen by 30% to P52 per kilo. Those who buy Rosana rice are finding that it, too, is becoming rapidly more expensive. There are also quality control problems. NFA rice, it is claimed, is being found in the mixture. Middle-men beware.
PNoy has said that the people is “the boss.” This does not seem to apply when we are seeking a course of action which he does not wish to undertake. There is no clamor to get rid of the pork barrel. There is no clamor to retain the pork barrel. If we are “the boss,” PNoy's recent conduct where he fails to address the discredited pork barrel system effectively constitutes insubordination.
I am concerned about the performance of the Ombudsman's office. It is demonstrably not fulfilling its Constitutional mandate. Specifically, it is given, via Art XI Sec 13 (7) a vital preventive role designed to reduce corruption opportunities. It states:
“Determine the causes of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement, fraud, and corruption in the Government and make recommendations for their elimination and the observance of high standards of ethics and efficiency.”
In effect, the Constitution is instructing the Ombudsman to examine the pork barrel system and to recommend what should be done. Why isn't the Ombudsman doing this?
We can still have a priority development assistance fund (PDAF) but without the corruption opportunities. The obvious weak link is the actual (and unnecessary) transfer of cash between individuals who are then in a position to cause the funds to be diverted to the wrong hands.
The Ombudsman knows the recommendation she should make. All she has to do is to stop cash passing through sticky-fingered intermediaries. Let electronic funds transfer rule!
The Ombudsman can only be removed from office by impeachment. She is, therefore, under no obligation to kowtow to the president. Under current circumstances, we would welcome a necessary tension between the Ombudsman and the president if this means more is being done to “eliminate fraud and corruption in the Government.”
Constitutionally, the Ombudsman is appointed to a seven year term (no extensions) so she will still be in office after PNoy completes this term.
Why is the Ombudsman's office so slow? It has become a notorious 'black hole' in which it receives allegations of wrongdoing on which it resolves, if at all, only after an inordinate delay. It is many years since the Ombudsman received information related to the allegedly unsatisfactory but costly (P25 million) acquisition of computers for schools in Bacolod City. Yet no substantive results have emanated from the Ombudsman's Office. Why not?
We hope the recent cracks in the wall in PNoy's administration will be addressed effectively and soon. This would mean that PNoy's second half will be able to pursue a Liberal Party mandate so that the downtrodden-those who are treated badly by people in power- become extinct.
We do not want PNoy to spend the next three years being put onto the back foot thereby causing him to have to defend the indefensible. His place in history would then be tarnished.
“A shudder in the loins engenders there, The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.” -W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), Leda and the Swan (1928)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 09, 2013.