All corruption allegation against government officials are urgent

President Benigno Aquino with Health Secretary Enrique Ona

President Benigno Aquino with Health Secretary Enrique Ona

President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) is starting to confuse me now.

For somebody strongly advocating and often chanting the ‘Tuwid na daan’ (straight path) mantra in his administration, I find the way PNoy is qualifying corruption allegation against his people conflicting, disturbing and frustrating.

Take for instance the case of Health Secretary Enrique Ona whom PNoy asked to go on leave while the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was tasked by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of anti-pneumonia vaccines in 2012 that also involved his assistant, the dancing Eric Tayag. The reason given by PNoy is so Ona will have ample time to answer questions about the alleged anomaly.

De Lima said the investigation stemmed from a complaint filed directly in the Office of the President (OP) by the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, the Formulatory Executive Council and the World Health Organization (WHO) over the “inexplicable” change in the type of vaccine purchased.

Instead of buying the more cost effective and widely applicable Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) 13, as recommended, the Department of Health opted to buy PCV 10 which is said to have limited disease coverage.

PNoy then explained that the Department of Health’s P833-million purchase of pneumonia vaccines involving Ona posed an immediate danger to the public than the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center involving Drilon, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, thus, the urgency of the probe.

I would presume that the same reasoning is applied also in the corruption case against Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima.

But, why make a distinction between them that one – the Ona case – is more urgent than the others?

Is public safety not an urgent matter?

What I am saying is that allegations of corrupt practices in government should be treated the same way – without fear or favor – because after all this is about good governance that falls under the purview of the ‘Tuwid na daan’ slogan that PNoy is seemingly pursuing to the hilt.

In fact the right thing to do, except for Drilon, who belongs to a different branch of government, is for Ona and Purisima to go on leave and reinstate them only (that is if they can wait) if and when the probe against their corrupt practices find them clean and innocent beyond any doubt.

If I may go farther, if PNoy wants the Filipinos to believe in his good intentions, then it is time for him to let go of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who, as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and as presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) affairs, is a cabinet member with the most tarnished reputation.


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