Rotten administration

By: Artchil B. Fernandez

DU30’S absence from public sight (which is becoming more frequent) this week has provided his minions the opportunity to prove his administration is rotten to the core. Corruption and crime, two social cancers Du30 vowed to fight are instead being nurtured and cultivated under his presidency.

Last week, Du30 drew flak for telling the police force it is fine to accept gifts despite laws (RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) strictly prohibiting it. His anti-graft body gave flesh to his words.  Since accepting a gift of insignificant value is allowed, Greco Belgica, a commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), defined an insignificant gift as valued at 100,000 pesos.

Since when did 100,000 pesos become an insignificant value? The monthly salary of a public school teacher (Teacher I) is 20,754. Crooks in government are very creative. A bribe of one million can be given in ten tranches and following Belgica’s reasoning is well within the “insignificant” acceptable amount. If a policeman, for example, receives 100,000 pesos as a gift daily, that is three million in a month and if Belgica’s standard is followed it is not corruption. And this Belgica is tasked by Du30 to go after the corrupt in his administration. What a joke!

Not to be outdone in displaying the rottenness of the Du30 administration, Justice (a misnomer) Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced this week that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez, convicted of the gruesome murders of UPLB students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, will be freed soon. Sarmenta was kidnapped by the bodyguards of Sanchez and was given to him as a “gift.”  Sanchez raped Sarmenta before giving her to his bodyguards who gang-raped her. Sarmenta, along with her boyfriend Gomez, was later shot by the men of Sanchez.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven 40-year prison terms for the killings of Sarmenta and Gomez. He was also sentenced to two 40-year prison terms on a separate murder case. Due to good behavior, Guevarra said Sanchez can be released from prison based on RA 10592. Computing good conduct time allowance (GCTA), BuCor spokesperson Eusebio “Sonny” del Rosario Jr. said Sanchez 26-year stay in prison is equivalent to 49 years, “which already exceeded his 40-year sentence.”

RA 10592 or the Good Conduct Allowance Time Law passed in 2013 allows prisoners to reduce their sentences by increasing the number of days that may be credited for GCTA. Last paragraph of Section 1 of RA 10592, however, states that “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act (underscoring mine).”

What Sanchez did (rape and murder) is a heinous crime. The Pasig City Regional Trial Court ruling called what happened to Sarmenta and Gomez a “plot seemingly hatched in hell.” He does not deserve to be released. The law is about good conduct in prison. In 2010, 1.5 million pesos worth of shabu was seized inside Sanchez cell hidden in the statue of the Virgin Mary. A 2011 raid in Sanchez cell yielded airconditioner, flat-screen television, and refrigerator. These do not constitute good behavior.

If the Du30 administration has an iota of sense of justice and is genuinely against monstrous crimes, it should have been circumspect in applying RA 10592.

Isn’t it a coincidence that Du30’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo was the lawyer of Sanchez in the Sarmenta-Gomez case?  Was it pure coincidence that this Panelo was also the lawyer of Bong Revilla and the Marcoses? Bong Revilla got away with plunder and Imelda Marcos’ conviction of seven counts of graft remains unenforced? Panelo used to be the lawyer of the Ampatuans in the horrific massacre. Scary prospect!

Du30 minion Bato de la Rosa further fortified the rottenness of the present administration when he supported Sanchez’s impending freedom. Sanchez deserves a “second chance” according to him. For de la Rosa convicted rapists and murderers deserve a second chance while suspected drug addicts and pushers are mercilessly slaughtered. If de la Rosa believes in second chances why is he advocating for the death penalty? The poverty of Bato de la Rosa’s mind is in full display here.

Crime and corruption are two key issues that Du30 claims he is tough and he got elected precisely because of this. Now in power, crime and corruption are having their “golden age” under Du30’s leadership.

Encouraging public officials and employees to receive 100,000 pesos as an “insignificant” gift will only make corruption bloom and flourish in government. Twisting RA 10592 to set free those who committed heinous crimes is not a way to combat crimes but promotes them.

In an attempt to cover up the rottenness of the current administration, fanatics blamed the previous administration for passing RA 10592. They forgot that it is the Du30 administration that is executing RA 10592, distorting its application to favor monsters like Sanchez. Sanchez could be the inspiration behind the infamous Du30 quote, “ang mayor dapat ang mauna” referring to the murdered Australian missionary.

It is now becoming clear that Filipinos are at the losing side of the bargain when they elected Du30.  They assumed wrongly that crime and corruption can be dealt with effectively if the foul-mouth, tough guy from Davao City becomes president. The reality is the opposite since what was foisted during the election campaign was a fake persona designed to deceive a populace desperate for change.

To use the new word of Urban Dictionary, the Filipino people were duterted – scammed, fooled or taken for a ride.  Naduterte tayo!