By Alex P. Vidal
“Integrity, transparency and the fight against corruption have to be part of the culture. They have to be taught as fundamental values.”—Angel Gurria
EVEN if Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio will hire the best accountants and spin masters in the Philippines to help her wiggle out from her present predicament, the P125 million representing the “confidential funds” her office had “spent” for only 11 days, according to the Commission on Audit (COA), is hard to justify.
No mathematician, auditor and accounting expert can camouflage and smokescreen a suspected blatant misappropriation of public funds in such a lousy and outrageous manner.
She is expected—and will be forced—to issue alibis and justifications whether she likes it or don’t, for she cannot ignore the growing and hostile demands from various sectors and irate taxpayers for her to explain how the money was used in such uncanny fashion and hurtle.
She has to liquidate it by all means. Transparency and accountability can’t be shrugged off especially if it involves millions of pesos in public funds.
As concurrently the secretary of education, she has to face the issue squarely and refrain from hiding behind the blouses of her undersecretaries.
Mrs. Duterte-Carpio can’t just brush aside the burning issue and divert the people’s attention by resorting to name-calling and lambasting lawmakers like Sen. Riza Hontiveros and Rep. France Castro who demanded for her accountability.
That’s a PR disaster nonpareil. It’s a fatal way of handling a very difficult and embarrassing crisis in connection with the “confidential funds.”
By being sardonic amid this humiliating situation, she will only further sink her own body in the quicksand.
Where’s the humility, couth, and professionalism?
Doesn’t she have advisers and consultants for crisis management? Better still, does she listen to them?
Did the hard-hitting ex-president fret about his daughter’s scandalous misadventure?
He should have at least done something as a father and a fellow public servant to stop her on her tracks when it became known all over the country that the daughter appeared to have mishandled her office’s “confidential funds.”
Instead of being belligerent and angry, Vice President Duterte-Carpio should have spoken meekly and calmly. She can’t win this gory battle in the bar of public opinion.
When you are accused of abusing and messing around with the people’s money, you’ll be rebuked and loathed even if your popularity is skyrocketing.
Taxpayers can tolerate incompetence in public service, but not a whiff of graft and corruption and a potential plunder.
In a rare act by a local chief executive, Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas has apologized for the conduct of several city hall contractual employees and a permanent employee implicated in a case of theft recently.
“One regular employee and 5 casual employees of the city government under the City Engineers Office have been reported to have been involved in the theft of active main copper wires of the Pldt,” the mayor wrote in his Facebook account.
“They are given the option of resigning from their employment immediately or face criminal and administrative cases. On behalf of the city government, I apologize for these employees. We will always endeavor to prove that they are the exceptions rather than the rule in the city government.”
IT IS STILL A TECHNICAL DEPORTATION, GENERAL. Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. has insisted he was not deported by the Canadian immigration authorities who reportedly gave him plenty of trouble upon his arrival at the Langley Airport in Canada recently.
Report said he was subjected to intense questioning about the drug war of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
Because he couldn’t stand the heat in the kitchen, the retired general claimed he opted to take a flight back to the Philippines, as reported in the Philippine Star, to avoid further “harassment” by immigration authorities.
The Canadian immigration authorities were reportedly interested to know the details about the Duterte drug war, and even asked Azurin about incumbent senators allied with the previous administration.
By taking a flight back to his airport of origin after a nightmarish experience in the Canadian immigration, it’s still a technical deportation. For whatever reason, we will never know unless the Canadian authorities will tell us.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)