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Saturday, September 21, 2019
CEBU

Espinoza: Silence over plunder

Free zone

SONA. What caught my attention in President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) yesterday was the startling silence in the Halls of Congress that you can hear a pin drop when the President asked legislators to reinstate the death penalty for the crimes of illegal drugs and plunder. The silence was simply understandable.

The President lambasted the corrupt officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC). He revealed that several BOC officials and employees are facing graft charges and the cases are still pending before the Sandiganbayan. He wants these BOC officials out of their offices and to report to Congress.

The President also urged us to call 888 and report corrupt government officials and employees. He even directed every Filipino to slap a government official or employee that would fleece money for any transaction and this would then reach him.

What I am looking forward to is how we or those aggrieved by corruption in government would react.

There is no doubt that because of corruption, like in the BOC, the illegal drugs have proliferated. The unparalleled influx of illegal drugs from China through the BOC is a big insult to the President’s toughest campaign against illegal drugs that resulted in deaths and injuries of the policemen as well as the peddlers of the illegal drugs.

On the other hand, the happiest workers in government are the teachers in public schools and the nurses because Duterte, in his Sona, asked Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) that will include pay raises for the teachers of public schools and nurses. Kudos to them!

The President did not talk about his Federalism, his primary hype when he ran in the 2016 polls. He is determined, though, to continue the campaign against illegal drugs until his last day in office despite efforts of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to conduct an investigation on extrajudicial killings.

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The deafening silence by WT Construction Inc. (WTCI), the contractor in the 20-storey Resource Center, and its refusal to comply with the order of Gov. Gwen Garcia to fill the excavated lot in Capitol should not be understood that it is running away from the fight over such a huge contract.

WTCI won the bidding for the construction of the P1.5 billion Resource Center, the flagship project of then Gov. Junjun Davide, who is now the vice governor. Even before assuming office as the newly elected governor, Gwen issued a directive that the resource center is not one of her priority projects.

While she was the representative of Cebu’s third congressional district, Gwen filed a petition for injunction before the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City against Davide, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and WTCI. Gwen will, however, withdraw the case after DBP cancelled the P1.5 billion loan of Capitol.

We should not forget that WTCI was the contractor of the infamous Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City during Garcia’s term. The possibility of an amicable settlement is not, therefore, remote.


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