MANILA--“The corruption is entrenched.” I could not help but overhear the spirited conversation of two Asian-looking men two tables away here at the hotel in Malate yesterday.
They were not talking of what they saw on television. This was not mere perception. They were exchanging notes about their business experiences in Manila and two other cities in Asia and the United States.
Sad. It is more than a year into the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who promised change. But can we always blame the Dilawan?
Let’s take the Bureau of Customs, for instance. The former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was a Duterte appointee. But we have seen at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry that the “tara” continues to exist. Faeldon himself was implicated in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu.
Nevertheless, I am not giving up hope.
Customs stakeholders are reportedly heeding the order of newly-named Commissioner Isidro Lapeña. No-nonsense PDEA officer Yogi Ruiz is joining Lapeña’s team at the bureau.
It is also heartening to see one top bureau official waging an advocacy to infuse the fear of God and the strength to resist corruption inside customs. This I witnessed when Deputy Commissioner EJ Dy Buco launched his book “Resist: Biblical Perspectives on Corruption” last Wednesday at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros.
A Christian, the customs official has not given up on curbing corruption at the bureau. It seems Christ has even recruited Matthew, a tax collector, as one of his 12 apostles. Depcom Dy Buco said he plans to also launch his book in Cebu and Davao.
It’s sad too. Senators dragged to jail because of the anti-pork campaign in 2013-14 are now being set free. The rejection of erstwhile DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo happened because she won’t agree to allowing congressmen to use department funds like pork barrel. It seems corruption is indeed entrenched.
During my student activist days, we called the corrupt system “bureaucrat capitalism.” The protesters last September 21 said they are against dictatorship and tyranny. Allow me to note that even Duterte supporters belonging to Kilusang Pagbabago consider corrupt officials “enemies of change.”
I urge readers to watch the GMA 7 “Alaala” special at 5pm today which will be about the Martial Law experience of Boni Ilagan. This should remind my generation who forgot and open the eyes of newer generations about those dark years in the midst of gargantuan efforts by the pro-Marcos camp to bury these memories into oblivion. Ginamit pa ang ilang kinawat.
Curiously, there was this effort to politically distance OPAV and PDP-Laban on one hand and the former mayor who was named a drug lord protector by President Duterte. In the realm of culture however, I cannot help but note the timing of the Binibining Cebu coronation night. It will be held on the same day Mike Rama celebrates his 63rd birthday – Oct. 28, 2017.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 23, 2017.
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