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Cleaning up

Where is the notion coming from that President Duterte is tolerating—and, according to some, even fostering—corruption in government?

To be sure, there hasn’t been an overnight drop to zero corruption as soon as the mantle changed hands in Malacañang. That was promised, not by Duterte in 2016, but by his predecessor in 2010, who had us believe that he of the yellow-ribboned tribe would deliver us into daylight after a lost decade of benightedness.

Well, we all know where that promise went. A rise in smuggling from $3 billion to nearly $20 billion a year—including the outright loss of 2,000 containers from the Manila Port, unheard of before. More than double the number of drug users after six years of decline, with the associated tidal wave of drug money. And of course the major scams of DAP and PDAF, unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, as well as less-major scams at agencies like MRT-3, LTO, you name it.

Is it possible that our judgment has gone so bad that we’ve adopted a failed promise from 2010 as our new standard of good governance in 2017?

It hasn’t helped that we still have to listen to the same clowns in the Senate grandstanding on unsubstantiated accusations against Duterte, with no regard at all for rationality, legality, or civility. If you create a hell of a lot of smoke, some people can actually be persuaded that indeed there’s a fire.

Nor has it helped that tens of thousands of government positions are still filled by Aquino-era holdovers who haven’t yet been vetted or replaced. How many of them are willingly cooperating with the leaders of the yellow-ribboned tribe to try and bring down this President?

Why these people haven’t been eased out yet is something that I’ll have to lay at Duterte’s door, or at least on those in his official family who should be expediting the turnover from top to bottom. Believe me, there’s no magic to it. But at least they’re not (yet) running out of time to do it.

* * *

After only eight months in office, the evidence seems pretty strong that Duterte is the stand-up guy that millions of voters believed him to be last May:

Of his own free will, Duterte put the Executive branch under the strictures of a simulacrum of a Freedom of Information Act. By doing this, he sent a clear signal that he expected himself and his administration not to engage in activities that would have to be covered up.

At the time, hopes were high that Congress would put themselves under a similar restraint. But with nothing like that happening till now, it would seem that our honorable legislators think higher—or is it lower?—of themselves.

When Senator Trillanes accused Duterte of having billions of pesos in his account, the President immediately asked the AMLC to look into his bank accounts, and promised to resign if they found anything over half a billion pesos in them. Of course Trillanes wanted to get into the act too, but I guess the AMLC slapped him down like they would a bratty child.

By comparison, towards the end of the Corona impeachment trial, I remember Aquino being challenged to open his own accounts for scrutiny, to which he testily said no. He must have been scared off by the Ombudsman, whose idea of estimating someone’s bank account balance is to total all the transactions entered through the account.

In the wake of the egregious kidnap-slaying of that Korean businessman inside Camp Crame, all the high-ranking police suspects were immediately relieved of command. A while later, a couple of hundred uniformed scalawags were summarily reassigned to Basilan—obviously nobody’s idea of a perfect assignment, and I believe the largest such mass punishment in the ranks (but if I’m wrong on that second point, I hope the reader will refresh my ageing memory).

Duterte’s former spokesman and personal aide Peter Laviña was forced out of his position at NIA because of corruption rumors. He’s not likely to be the last official this happens to, under a President who’s quickly becoming known as one to crack down even harder on subordinates who’re his friends than those who’re not.

With this guy, “KKK” means the bad-ass insurrectos in those cool rayadillo blue-striped uniforms, led by bemoustached generals who like to curse “Punyeta!”--and not something else.

* * *

When Duterte said he would extend his scorched-earth tactics beyond the anti-drug campaign to include corrupt officials, the public cheering got even louder. Apparently, if there’s anyone the public loves to hate even more than drug pushers, it’s people who abuse their official position for personal gain—a scourge that’s been around a lot longer than shabu.

But it will take more time than he’s had so far, though hopefully not more time than he has left in the Palace. So far, the President’s personal lifestyle, and now, increasingly, the way he runs his official family, are bearing out the remarkable level of trust that people are reposing in him to do the job right.

Readers can write me at [email protected]

Topics: Gary Olivar , Cleaning up , corruption
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