Phony crusader

By: Artchil B. Fernandez

IN HIS latest State of the Nation Address (Sona), Du30 spent more than half of it ranting and raging against corruption. He lamented the widespread corruption in society, especially in the government.

“Corruption continues and emasculates the courage we need to sustain our moral recovery initiatives.  It is both a national embarrassment and a national shame,” a furious Du30 thundered. “For every transaction, a commission; for every action, extortion,” he illustrates how corruption is pervasive in government.  It gnaws the moral fabric of the nation and its intractable presence in government according to him “is a betrayal of public trust.”

Three weeks after Du30 fumed against corruption and expressed his fury of its omnipresence in government, Du30 told the police during the 118th Police Service Anniversary in Camp Crame that accepting gifts is okay. “Basta ’pag bigyan kayo eh tanggapin ‘nyo (Just accept it if you’re given something),” he exhorted them. “It is not bribery… It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean, if there is generosity in them, sabi ng anti-graft [law] you cannot accept gifts? Kalokohan (the anti-graft law says you cannot accept gifts? Baloney).”

What Du30 said to the police not only contradicts but completely undermines the anti-corruption outrage he exhibited during his Sona. His exhortation to the police creates the very condition for corruption to flourish in government. Telling the police that it is alright to accept gifts makes the police force a fertile ground for corruption to thrive and prosper. If the police force is allowed to accept gifts other government employees are also permitted to do so. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

What is worse, Du30 is telling the police and consequently all government employees to break the laws. All government officials and employees are prohibited by RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act from accepting gifts except for small one whose value is insignificant and is “offered and given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship.” Furthermore Section 7 (d) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees says: “Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, a loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

Du30 even scoffed and lambasted the laws for barring government officials and employees from accepting gifts calling the prohibition kalokohan (baloney). Here is a president whose oath of office obliges him to execute the laws of the land sneering at the very laws he is commanded to obey and uphold. And Du30 is complaining, angry and frustrated that corruption is endemic in government?

The contradiction in Du30’s public pronouncements reveals his phony crusade against graft and corruption. All the bluster and fury he displayed against corruption during his SONA was just cheap acting. His anti-corruption stance is as phony as his bogus war against illegal drugs. What can one expect from an administration where everything is counterfeit? After all, his administration is an administration of fakes.

Accepting gifts as a public official is normal to Du30, laws against it notwithstanding. Pia Ranada of Rappler reported that when Du30 was still Davao City mayor he received properties and cars from Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, his favorite religious crony.

“When I was mayor, Pastor bought 3 properties. He said I’ll buy for your children in case you die from doing your job. He gave me a house in Woodridge. I didn’t accept it. But it’s there. Go to Woodridge, who bought it? It’s Pastor who paid,” Rappler quoted Du30.  The report also said Du30 was given by Quiboloy a Nissan Safari and a Ford Expedition.

Despite his strong posturing against corruption, Du30 has not done anything of significance to curb corruption in government. In the last three years, no high ranking official has been prosecuted for corruption. Former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, for example, was dismissed due to corruption allegations but was not investigated and prosecuted. She and her brothers are being asked to return the questionable 60 million DOT ad placement but have not done it. There is no effort on the part of the administration to recover the money and Du30 seems to have forgotten about it.

Imelda Marcos, wife of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was convicted of seven counts of graft and sentenced to 70 years in imprisonment. Du30 is not interested to enforce the court order and Imelda Marcos has not seen even the shadow of jail.

Big corruption cases involving friends and allies of Du30 are being dismissed on flimsy, suspicious and highly questionable grounds. Juan Ponce Enrile was granted bail for an unbailable crime of plunder on spurious “humanitarian ground.” Bong Revilla, another Du30 ally was exonerated of corruption but was ordered to return the 124 million that mysteriously found its way in his bank account. These are among the numerous instances where high officials involved in corruption got away with plunder under Du30.

“Words are wind,” they say in the Game of Thrones. Du30’s anti-corruption stance is a deceptive stunt designed to tantalize and fool his fanatics. In reality, there is a wide and yawning gap between his words and action. He rants against corruption but is in bed with the corrupt.