Duterte is part of the problem

"He keeps appointing, recycling and promoting tarnished officials."


The cases of two former Customs commissioners, Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña, are two examples of why the war on corruption won’t end.

Lapeña, a former military officer, was Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief when the President named him Customs commissioner. Faeldon is a former Marine captain and coup plotter.

As the President said, he likes military and police men because they are action-oriented. They are professional and obedient, doing what they are told to do, no questions asked. Mr. Duterte often calls them his utility boys.

For this reason, the Duterte administration has been militarized. Almost all sensitive Cabinet posts are headed by former police or military officials.

But will this make a dent in the fight against corruption?

I don’t think so. In fact, I think it worsened with the President recycling and even promoting military and police officers.

Lapeña, under whose nose some P11 billion worth of shabu was smuggled, was even promoted to a Cabinet post as the director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Despite the finding of the National Bureau of Investigation that Lapeña and others committed graft and corruption in connection with the release of 150 containers of highly-dutiable goods, the President says Lapeña still enjoys his confidence. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra III will have a hands-off policy in Lapeña’s case.

Faeldon was also at the helm of the bureau when some P6.4 billion of shabu was smuggled into the country. Now he will be the next head of the Bureau of Corrections.

I hate to say this but President Duterte has become part of the problem because he simply recycles his officials. This is why the war on corruption will not progress.

* * *

In the wake of the President’s over-reliance on uniformed men, perhaps he should be reminded of a survey that lists both the AFP and PNP as the most corrupt institutions in government.

Recall that some generals and high-ranking officials of the armed forces have been found to embezzle retirement funds, and that they have pasalubong or pabaon to incoming and outgoing officials, respectively. Santa Banana, where do you think the AFP gets the money? There has never been an honest-to-goodness inquiry into this.

Corruption is also endemic in the PNP. So how can the President now say that his utility boys are honest men?

I have been a journalist for almost 70 years. I have seen it all.

* * *

I like the suggestion of former Vice President Jejomar Binay, now running for representative of Makati City, that the constitution must be amended so that the vice president would have a real function other than being a spare tire.

I have been saying for far too long that the vice president should not just be somebody waiting in line to replace the elected president.

With the amendment of the Constitution, the vice president will finally be useful. I would even go beyond this and suggest that the president and vice president must come from the same party.

* * *

Speaking of the Binays of Makati, somebody asked me why I think Makati residents should continue with Abby as mayor.

I am not against her brother and opponent, Junjun. I think, however, that Abby is doing an excellent job. So why replace her?

Abby has done many things for Makati. Foremost, Makati is now the richest city in Metro Manila. She has cleaned up the mess at city hall. Above all, her plan for a 10-kilometer subway around the city is very good. The concession given to local and foreign investors in the project will create thousands of jobs.

Everything is going smoothly and according to plan. Indeed I am a very happy resident of Makati City under Mayor Abby.

* * *

I remember my first trip to Tokyo, together with the late Manila Times business editor Ernie Ilustre and PR man Charlie Weber.

I recall our flight via Japan Airlines at the old Haneda Airport. We paid a courtesy call to the late Ambassador Eduardo Quintero.

Then, Tokyo’s nightclubs were dominated by Filipinos, most of them with transactions with the Reparations Commission. Would you believe that a congressman from Bohol had Filipinos lining up to talk to him because he had a direct line with the commission?

It was during the incumbency of the late President Carlos Garcia that the reparation with Japan was the top way to be rich.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Bureau of Customs , Nicanor Faeldon , Isidro Lapeña
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