Espinoza: Charge the corrupt officials and profiteers

Free Zone

IT'S awe-inspiring to know that President Rodrigo Duterte asked for apologies to the persons he named as oligarchs that he lashed out during the presidential election campaign and after he assumed office as the 16th President of the Philippines when legal issues against these firms were brought out in the open.

On Monday, during his late night taped address regarding the government's response to Covid-19 pandemic, President Duterte apologized to Manny Pangilinan and the Ayala clan for his harsh words against them.

Pangilinan is the head of the Metro Pacific Group of Companies and Maynilad is one of its companies. Fernando Zobel de Ayala is the chairman of the Manila Water Board and his brother, Jaime, is the vice chairman of the water utility company of the Ayala Corporation.

President Duterte sometime in December last year threatened to file plunder cases against Manila Water and Maynilad, the water concessionaire companies for Metro Manila, for alleged onerous contracts that they have entered into with the government.

The President said: "I am ready to talk and I would be reasonable, to the Ayalas and to Pangilinan, I apologize for the hurting words. If you can find in your heart to forgive me, because if you do not want to forgive me (joking) I will undercut you. I will go direct to God."

Pangilinan, in his tweet, said: "I wish to assure him that our group is fully committed to being a partner of the government in addressing the heartbreaking moments of Covid-19 on our people, in building a better tomorrow for them. We are, and have always been here, for the country."

Flustered by the Covid-19 pandemic and delighted by the unparalleled support from the business sector, President Duterte also expressed gratitude for their assistance. He said "I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us provide the necessities of the moment. I can promise you, I'll be nice and if you want to see me, we can talk. Naubos na po pagkasuplado ko dahil sa Covid."

From what I know from friends who are close to him, the President is a person who keeps and fulfills his promise. After this pandemic, we'll be expecting a good if not better relationship of this administration with the top business groups in the country, which would be good for our sagging economy.

And because President Duterte promised to charge those who will take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic, it's expected that more cases that would be filed against the profiteers and the corrupt officials in the barangays and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The unfair or selective delivery of the good and services to those in need have since been the complaint of those who were left out allegedly due to bias by the barangay officials. There were reports that only the supporters of the incumbent barangay officials, including the members of their families, received the cash and food aid.

The P6,000 or P8,000 cash aid under the government's Social Amelioration Program (SAP) intended to provide financial assistance to those who lost their work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic did not allegedly reach the beneficiaries. Many were not included in the SAP list and worse, there were accusations that the amount was slashed by half.

These heartless people, who take advantage of this present crisis, deserve to rot in jail. The President should not show mercy for the profiteers and the corrupt officials in government who made fortunes out of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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