Palace shrugs off De Lima proposal to probe '8888' complaint hotline

MALACAÑANG on Monday, December 4, shrugged off the appeal of detained Senator Leila de Lima to her colleagues to conduct an investigation into the implementation of "8888" complaint hotline launched by the Duterte administration.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. taunted De Lima, who he said lacks awareness about the public complaint hotline's effectiveness since she is currently behind bars.

"(De Lima is calling for an investigation) maybe because she hasn’t tried it because she shouldn’t have a telephone in her detention facility," Roque said in a press conference with Palace reporters.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte government, has filed a Senate resolution urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the alleged failure of the "8888" hotline to accommodate public's concerns and complaints about corruption in government offices.

In October 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 6 that institutionalized "8888" as the citizens' complaint hotline to allow citizens "to report their complaints and grievances" on red tape and corruption by any government officials.

De Lima, however, cited in Senate Resolution 550 that the telephone hotline failed to accommodate around 1.4 million calls because the unit was "undermanned."

"As reported, aside from the challenges in accessing the citizens’ complaint hotline, many concerned citizens have also expressed their dismay about the implementation of the program, particularly since telephone companies charge them a fee of around P5.00 per minute if they call the hotline from their mobile phones,” the senator said.

“While there is no charge if they call via landline, this program is still not accessible to all, especially because not everyone has an access to landlines and prepaid mobile phone users would not be able to access the hotline either by call or SMS if they have no remaining credits,” she added.

She said the government must ensure the effective implementation of the complaint hotline to prove that the program was launched not to "cosmetically or superficially" live up to Duterte's campaign promises.

Roque said the the President does not need to prove anything as the latter is committed to fulfilling his pledge to get rid of erring public officials.

"What do you want? You have seen that the President relentlessly removes from office any government official who is reportedly linked to corruption," Roque said.

"The President is sincere in his crusade against corruption. He will not stop firing (corrupt public officials). Our message to the people in government is go to private sector if you want to be rich," he added. (SunStar Philippines)
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