Duterte administration’s long list of shenanigans – and more forthcoming
THE Duterte administration is perceived to have been consistently pursuing state policies and actions that are mostly controversial, such as the following:
• The “bloody” drug war that has resulted in the “neutralization” of thousands of drug users and pushers, mostly poor—innocent or otherwise—while big-time illegal drug dealers or drug lords have eluded prosecution or gone scot-free.
• Allowing the burial of a former dictator’s remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani amid public outcry.
• The release from detention or hospital arrest of some convicted “plunderers.”
• Adopting an “independent foreign policy” by pivoting to China, splurging on foreign loans, allowing the unrestricted entry of Chinese nationals as workers in Pogos even during the onset of the “made in China” pandemic; disregarding the international tribunal’s arbitral ruling against China’s “nine-dash line” won by the previous administration; practically allowing China’s incursions into the West Philippine Sea, and being reluctant to seek redress or protect local fishermen from harassment or bullying by Chinese militias; also, the unilateral abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and distancing from the US and Western Allies, all despite official surveys showing more public trust in the United States than in China.
• The signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Before the present leadership’s term supposedly ends in 2022, more controversial issues may be forthcoming.
Take the recent PhilHealth multibillion-peso corruption mess, which prompted congressional inquiries and uncovered the shenanigans of the “mafia” that allegedly ravaged the state insurer of the funds collected from the hard-earned contributions of members, both here and abroad. But, having heard again the usual “I still have full trust” (in beleaguered allies) remarks from no less than the Chief Executive, and his previous handling of corruption cases involving his appointed public officials at the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Corrections where they ended up merely “recycled” to other offices, one could not help being skeptical at the possibility of bringing to justice the scoundrels at PhilHealth.
Now, here comes this revolutionary government (RevGov) initiative from the Duterte camp, the congressional attempt to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the enactment of a law declaring the former dictator’s birthday as a holiday in Ilocos, the “white-sanding” of Manila Bay despite the still raging pandemic and the government’s “depleted funds,” and, most recently, the grant of presidential pardon to an American soldier convicted of “homicide” for killing a Filipino transgender. These controversies could divert public consciousness away from the most pressing real issues like the COVID-19 mishandling and the PhilHealth scandal.
It is high time our so-called public servants did true public service by pursuing programs and projects that directly benefit our people, particularly the poor and the vulnerable. Our lawmakers should enact pro-poor laws on transparency, health, education, anti-poverty, anti-political dynasty, and anti-turncoatism, or work for drastic reforms in our flawed political and justice systems. The government’s priorities should not be on anything that clamps down on legitimate dissent or further perpetuates the culture of corruption, injustice, and impunity. Instead, there should be more about putting “terror” in the hearts of government crooks, if only to deter them from depriving our people of their right to live in peace and in progress.
It’s about time our so-called leaders heeded public opinion, adverse or not, and listened to their own conscience, or whatever remains of it.
MANUEL A. COLLAO
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