Bzzzzz: Chickens case to ombudsman: still no evidence. Trump's bleach and Duterte's gasoline: joke and sarcasm

MANILA. (From left) Bishop Broderick Pabillo, President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump. (Photos from CBCP News, Presidential Communications and AP)

PEOPLE are talking about...

[1] BISHOP BRODERICK PABILLO BEING INFECTED WITH COVID. An RT-PCR test found the Manila auxiliary bishop positive. In a statement to his clergy, Bishop Pabillo said, "I know the virus will pass, so please do not worry about me, although prayers would be very much appreciated."

A few days ago, Pabillo explained that priests and bishops speaking out on government policies that affect their flock are not violating the principle of separation of church and state. The President's chief lawyer Salvador Panelo had criticized the "meddling" of clergy.

[2] PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE INVOKING THE NAME OF GOD LATELY. Critics who wonder about that may remember that the President criticized only the God of Catholics, not "his God." Well, Duterte curses a lot but he must suppose that does not count against him.

Anti-graft body given copy

There is an attempt to revive the dressed chickens issue at Cebu City Hall, which erupted in May and April. This time, the deputy ombudsman is furnished a copy of a two-page letter-complaint.

A letter to Mayor Edgar Labella, dated June 25, "lodge(s) the criminal and administrative complaint" against public officials and their representatives who, it alleged, sold chickens "donated to and intended for the poor beneficiaries in Cebu City barangays." A copy furnished last Wednesday, July 22, to the Visayas deputy ombudsman must be what reached the media.

There's only one signatory who claims to represent residents of Ascension, Barangay Sambag 1. The signature and printed name were redacted in the reproduced copy. It was not ascertained if they belonged to an existing person.

No specifics were given in the letter-complaint except that sometime last May, "people in our barangay were told" that Cebu City Councilor Edu Rama "was into chicken supply/distribution business" and wanted to help the poor residents by selling chicken at a reduced price. The "bargain price" of P120 per chicken which was "only a little lower" than the market retail price, the letter-complaint noted.

Nothing new, compared to the earlier allegation that the chickens were sold, except that this time it was Rama who was named, not the Milo officials of Barangay Busay. But the reference to Rama is plainly hearsay. Rama, in a CDN Digital story, said the complaint is "politically motivated and libelous." Besides, he said, residents of Ascension, Sambag 1 were not among the recipients of the chickens.

Earlier, Rama said the dressed chickens, totaling about 17,000, were distributed among the barangays, which he named in a list. It was not known however if the distribution has already been verified by COA or the city auditor. The donation was also assailed earlier as not having been formally accepted by the city, unlike a similar donation of live chickens to the Association of Barangay Councils through Councilor Franklyn Ong, which ABC accepted in a resolution and a public notice. The said distribution was also not yet verified by auditors.

The controversy-ridden chickens, donated by a Thai company doing business in the Philippines, had never been missing. The distribution just was not accounted for.

Joking or being sarcastic

What's the difference between the advice of President Duterte Tuesday, July 21, telling people to wash the face and the mask with gasoline after using it with that of US President Trump suggesting last April 23 that people ingest bleach to kill coronavirus inside the body?

Trump's bleach and Duterte's gasoline, although the US president's cure was deadlier as it had to be ingested; the Philippine president would limit the gasoline on the mask and face.

Still, both pieces of advice horrified doctors and other persons of science. Trump and Duterte are presidents who are looked up to by their constituents and the suggested methods were dangerous to health.

It was a joke, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said, "kayo naman, apat na taon na ang president, parang hindi naman pa nyo kilala." Trump explained, "I was being sarcastic." A joke or sarcasm in the time of pandemic could warp the message, aside from distracting people from the serious business at hand.


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