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IN MY EYES: Firing range

Corruption.

That’s my topic this time, fellas.

Corruption’s simplest definition is dishonesty for personal gain.

What’s RP’s rank when it comes to corruption?

In 2016, it ranked 101st in the world. In the same year, it stood as the 5th cleanest in South East Asia, with Singapore as the least corrupt. Cambodia is the least cleanest in South East Asia. Incidentally, Singapore is 6th cleanest in the world according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

How serious is the government in staving off corruption in the country?

In April, President Duterte announced during the 24th Annual Convention of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines in Legazpi City, Albay that he has fired two high-ranking government officials due to corruption.

“The other day, I fired two – one [is an] undersecretary,” he said.

Duterte said these officials supposedly made applicants or clients return to their agencies multiple times.

“That is why, ‘yung pabalik nang pabalik sa opisina, ‘yan ang dahilan, ‘yung finire-out ko,” he added. (That is why, those who made people return to their offices many times, that’s the reason I fired them.)

Duterte admitted he doesn’t have the evidence “pero kung magbalik ‘yung tao, may affidavit ako (but if the person comes back, I’ll have an affidavit.)”

“I mean, independently of the knowledge of the complainant, wala naman talaga ako doon sa harap mo e. Pero tiningnan ko ‘yung record, mag-apply, magbalik 6 times, 7 times, 8 times (I mean, independent of the knowledge of the complainant – I was not in the presence of the complainant. But I looked at the record, and I saw the [victim] applying and returning 6 times, 7 times, 8 times),” he added.

“If it’s a behavior or attitude on certain matters or before the public, I would always say, ‘Be courteous to your employers,’ kasi sila ang nagbayad ng sweldo natin (because they are the ones paying our salaries). We are workers of government, and we are mandated to serve the public. Then you have to be courteous and protect the money of the people.,” he said.

Again, how serious is the administration against corruption?

For the record, Rappler, Malacañang’s nemesis in the media world, has compiled the following list so the people may know.

Peter Laviña, former National Irrigation Administration chief – Fired for allegedly demanding “40%” commission on NIA regional projects.

Ismael Sueno, former interior secretary – Fired for allegedly acquiring a hotel in South Cotabato and trucks for a family business, facilitating the purchase and delivery of trucks from Austria that were more expensive than from other sources, and for supposedly accepting bribes from gambling lords.

Jose Vicente Salazar, former Energy Regulatory Commission chairman – Dismissed over simple and grave misconduct “with elements of corruption.”

Gertrudo de Leon, former budget undersecretary – Fired for allegedly offering to increase budget allocations for government agencies or entities as long as he gets a cut.

Dionisio Santiago, former Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman – Fired for alleged extravagant travels abroad, aside from a remark critical of the mega drug rehabilitation facility funded by a Chinese billionaire.

Terry Ridon, Melissa Aradanas, Manuel Serra Jr, Noel Indonto, and Joan Lagunda, former Presidential Commission chairman and commissioners – Fired for alleged excessive
foreign trips.

Elba Cruz, former Development Academy of the Philippines President – Fired for alleged excessive trips.

Marcial Amaro III, former Maritime Industry Authority administrator – Fired for alleged excessive trips.

Patricia Licuanan, former Commission on Higher Education chairperson – Fired for alleged excessive trips, aside from supposedly delaying the release of scholars’ allowances.

Jose Gabrial “Pompee” La Viña and Amado Valdez, former Social Security System commissioner and chairman, respectively – Fired for allegedly “abusing” public funds.

Dominador Say, former labor undersecretary – While he resigned, Malacañang said he would have been fired ayway for alleged “corruption relating to activities of labor recruiters.”

The list does not include former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, fired for clearing the charges of alleged druglords; Undersecretary Halmen Valdez, fired for allegedly seeking extensions of import permits and former Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Benjamin Reyes for contradicting Duterte’s “4 million drug addicts” figure.

Now, here comes the twist, fellas.

Of those fired from office, 2 are back in the government – Laviña was named tourism undersecretary while Aradanas
is now the deputy secretary general in the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. Aradanas is said to be the cousin of Duterte’s partner, Honeylet Avanceña. Former customs chief Nicanor Faeldon resigned but was reappointed as deputy administrator at the Office of Civil Defense. Faeldon is facing an investigation by the Ombudsman for graft, violation of drug policies and usurpation of functions in relation to the P6.4-billion drug smuggling controversy.

Now you see them, now you don’t!

Of those in the list, Rappler said 16 have not been charged and some are reappointed.

So, what’s the fuss all about, fellas?

Mang Maing said firing them is not enough. They should be sued and tried in court and if found guilty, they should be imprisoned like ordinary criminals.

Fighting corruption does not end in just firing them. The people want to see some of them in jail.

“And Mr. President,” exclaimed Mang Maing, “no favoritism, please!” #

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