As I See It

Will the looting never end?


It appears now that there is widespread looting in the government in spite of P-Noy’s anticorruption and “daang matuwid” stance. It is not only in Congress where vultures are feasting on the people’s money and corruption is rampant but also in the executive branch, the government-owned and -controlled corporations, and, in the unkindest cut of all, the judiciary. Like pigs, all three branches of government are wallowing in the same mud. What is happening? Is P-Noy losing control of his administration? Is this administration sincere about instituting reforms, curbing corruption, and cutting wasteful spending?

Members of Congress are still fighting to keep their beloved pork barrel in spite of appeals by the people to abolish it; the Departments of Agriculture and of Agrarian Reform have been shown to be willing conduits of funds for nonexistent projects of bogus nongovernment organizations; directors of GOCCs have been giving themselves million-peso bonuses; and now it was discovered that there is at least one syndicate that fixes the results of court cases for a fee, and also the result of elections for the association of judges. If there is a “Ma’am Janet” in the pork barrel scam, there is an influential “Ma’am Arlene” in the judicial scams.

No wonder there are skewed decisions in all the courts, including the highest one. Apparently, all that wealthy litigants have to do is go to “Ma’am Arlene” and the judges’ decision would be in their favor.

How can the poor get justice in the Philippines when the rich can buy justice?

How does “Ma’am Arlene” do it? The same way “Ma’am Janet” did it, with a five-letter word: MONEY.

You may have the evidence and the smartest lawyer on your side, but if the money is on the other side, what chance have you got, with the current abysmal quality of our judges and justices?

Reform is much more imperative in the judiciary than in the executive branch because the former is the dispenser of justice. Without justice, everything else fails.

* * *

Equally abominable is the timing of the grant of million-peso bonuses to directors of the Social Security System. The extravagant bonuses were given at the same time that the SSS increased the premium payments of its members. The reason given is that the SSS needs funds to shore up its dwindling financial situation. Why would it not dwindle when the officials who are supposed to safeguard it are looting it? Premiums increase but not the members’ pensions.

SSS members spend many, many years—almost a lifetime—paying the monthly premiums, expecting that when they grow old and retire, they would have a nest egg to comfortably live on. When they retire, they get a pittance, not even enough for medicines in their old age. But as soon as a director is appointed, he gets P14,000 just for attending a meeting that lasts maybe only four hours, a car and allowances, plus a P1.7-million bonus near the end of the year, not counting the 13th-month pay.

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino denounced the excessive pay and perks of officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. With a regular annual payroll of P51.4 million, MWSS executives get P81.1 million in additional benefits and allowances. In short, of the water firm’s P211.5-million annual budget, 66 percent comprised additional perks.

As a result of his discovery, P-Noy formed the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) to curb abuses by the boards of directors who have a penchant for giving themselves lavish perks.

But that only made things worse. Now all that the corporations have to do is go to the GCG and ask permission to give their officials million-peso bonuses, and the latter gladly grants it. Now 20 GOCCs have given themselves fat bonuses, with more millions coming this Christmas.

Bear in mind that many GOCCs are subsidized by the national government, which means by taxpayer money.

When will the looting stop?

* * *

Will the problems of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon never end? After failing to meet his collection target and to curb smuggling, Biazon was scolded publicly by P-Noy. He was so humiliated that he offered to resign, but the President told him (according to Biazon) to stay on.

To curb corruption and increase collection, Biazon reshuffled his key subordinates. They took him to court and refused their new assignments. Why?

The judge surprisingly granted a temporary restraining order on the transfers. To top it all, his boss, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, claims just now that he did not approve the transfers. What a boss!

In order to stop corruption and increase collections, Biazon decided to computerize operations. The project introduces a modern and internationally accepted system of transacting with the Bureau of Customs without any personal contact with any of its employees or officials because all computations of tariff duties are immediately processed by computers. The system speeds up transactions up to 20 times faster than the current system.

The project was lawfully awarded to Webb Fontaine last May and was about to be implemented, but the disqualified bidder, Omniprime Marketing Inc., was able to secure an injunction from the Manila Regional Trial Court. (Ma’am Arlene, were you there?)

Since then, this worthy project has not been able to move because of the injunction. This prejudices not only Webb Fontaine, which has brought in expensive equipment, but also the government because its effort to curb smuggling is again hampered.

The injunction has derailed BOC efforts to stop smuggling. Poor Biazon.

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  • Angelicus1

    If this continues, Filipinos might consider abolishing currency (nothing to loot). Just trade (barter) this way you know what you’re getting in exchange for what. It will take longer but the value of exchanges will probably be closer to the real value of the commodities.

  • BB

    Actually the SSS pays its directors 40,000–not 14,000–pesos per meeting (according to Mr Edralin in his interview with DZRH); and this happens at least twice a month. Also, don’t forget the bonuses and perks of PhilHealth. I can’t remember the different types coz there was a lot but the one that I remember is grocery allowance. What!

  • trebla2012

    Just wondering what brilliant ideas can these board directors, commissioners, in the case of SSS, contribute to GOCCs performance? In practice, most of them retired or way past their prime, are there simply to ratify management actions during the past two weeks. And for lending their name doing some oversight function they convene in less than three hours, twice a month, and are paid five (4) times more than the average workers of the company?

  • boi skater

    TRO is the convenient weapon of choice of the corrupt in this country and with the connivance of the similarly corrupt judges or justices, cases can linger in judicial purgatory indefinitely. Once the public interest had died down, these judges will quietly give their verdict in favor of the corrupt. What a perfect system for the corrupt.

  • marithefrancois

    this is not even taxpayer’s money, it is more than that because our monthly contributions either to sss or to philhealth is our own money on top of the taxes that we pay the government. naiintindihan ba nila. it is called a double whammy niluluto kami ni de quiros ng sss sa sarili naming mantika

  • The_Squiller

    If stealing and looting are simply round pegs in the otherwise round and bottomless holes in our government, then it comes as no surprise that our population has become averse to whoever tries to steer this nation towards a complete catharsis.

    His character weaned and tenderized by colonizers through the centuries, the average Filipino’s mind has so accepted that corruption is indeed a way of life in this country that anyone who tries to present an opposite view is met with sarcasm, cynicism, and even hostility. They cannot imagine life without corruption even if they choose not to partake of it nor profess that they abhor it.

    It is tempting to point an accusing finger on something or someone for our inadequacy. But it would be, well, pointless. We cannot undo centuries of deeply ingrained habits, beliefs, and attitudes in one or two generations. Moreover, these same habits and beliefs sometimes do result into something positive in our society and culture.

    But where do we draw the line on utang-na-loob, noblesse oblige, kama-kamag-anak, barka-barkada, bara-baranggay, and ka-probinsiya?

    I believe that God must be in the center of our lives and we must worship Him in truth and in spirit and not in the way as some pastors would have us do. But if you don’t believe in God or even hate Him, then at least love your country over all other personal desires if you truly are an advocate for social renewal.

    Anything less than these will show that you are still a slave of our past.

    • David Lim

      Wow! Well said! Your view is worth quoting everywhere among our kababayans!

    • WDLeader

      amazing! truly inspiring and comforting….

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