Reopening of pork barrel scam probe and Dutertenomics

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

You might be wondering why I am lumping up the two together when they are different and distinct subjects.

Well, they are not really contradistinctive.

What makes them related or akin to one another is the fact that both deals with preventing corruption as the country is steered towards growth and development.

Thus, while Dutertenomics is getting to be a popular buzzword here and abroad for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 6-year development plan that aims to make the Philippines a high middle-income status before his term ends in 2022, it is a much welcomed boost for the country also that Duterte is keen and in fact throwing his full support behind the reopening of a congressional inquiry into the scandalous P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

Dutertenomics is actually about the 10-point agenda that is listed below and which emphasizes transparency and inclusiveness in every step:

  • Higher infrastructure spending, with 5 percent of gross domestic product targeted
  • Lower income and corporate tax rates to better compete with other Asian nations
  • Less red tape and corruption, including permits and land titles crucial to business
  • More state resources for the countryside, reducing poverty and boosting rural growth
  • Strong law enforcement and peace efforts to enhance the business environment
  • Small business gains with GoNegosyo’s Ramon Lopez as Trade & Industry Secretary
  • Better China relations enhancing Chinese trade, tourism and investment flows
  • Charter change to devolve power to the regions and ease foreign investment limits.

In the same manner, in revisiting the pork barrel scam probe, Duterte simply wants to make sure that all those government officials involved in unscrupulously diverting the government funds for the poor and needy into their own bank accounts are taken to task and prosecuted.

I just hope that in so doing Duterte will not interfere and just allow the Sandiganbayan ( a special appellate collegial court) to run its course in prosecuting the high profile accused namely, ex-senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. He will be doing the country a great favor if he does.

Oozing with political will with no one to be beholden to and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of the people foremost in his governance, I am sure Duterte will find success in this twin concerns he is driving at.

 

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Duterte strongly warns Sereno

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and SC CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno

President Rodrigo Duterte and SC CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno

Whichever way you look at it President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent disclosure of a number of judges linked to illegal drug business, to include police and military personnel and local government officials, did not state that they were all under arrest.

The revelation of their names was mainly meant to inform all and sundry as Duterte promised he would do, it being his duty as president, he says.

In fact to save their faces, if those named felt they were shamed, they were instructed to report to their respective mother units, like in the case of the judges it is the Supreme Court (SC), to deny or negate the allegation. I think the president was very specific on this, and further instructed the cancellation of “any and all” firearm licenses issued to those whom he named.

I do not know if others were taken aback by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s reaction but, indeed, I was.

She seemed unreasonably upset that, foremost, the independence of the judiciary department, which she heads, had been breached and, secondly, that Duterte could not just make a “premature public announcement” of names of judges allegedly with drug links and be weaponless because they need it to protect themselves.

Sereno’s annoyance of and defiance against Duterte’s lawful order can be gleaned from her letter to the president where she said to him that she had advised judges not to surrender to the police unless presented with a warrant of arrest.

Now who said that the judges have to surrender to the police?

Is divulging the names of the judges as a way of informing the public, like the rest, is showing disrespect and ignoring the independence of the judiciary department?

Sereno’s paranoid reaction did not sit well with Duterte such that the latter answered the former’s letter telling her bluntly that he did not appreciate being “ordered” around by the SC.

Naivete probably got the better of Sereno when she pointed out that some of the judges in Duterte’s list didn’t even handle drug cases. This reasoning and belief generated a rebuff from Duterte where the latter even questioned Sereno’s experience.

Kung judge, he was not handling drug cases? Ma’am nagkamali ka, akala ko ba, to be there you must be seasoned? Takbo niyan, ‘Pare, tawag mo ‘yung kaibigan mong judge,’” said Duterte.

(As to the judges, he was not handling drug cases? Ma’am, you’re wrong, I thought to be there you must be seasoned? The way it goes is: “Friend, call your judge friend.”)

Furthermore, Duterte told Sereno: “Do not force the issue. I respect your comments, but it is a rigmarole to me.”

He warned the SC that if they order him around, he would instruct the entire executive department not to “honor” the body, the highest court in the land.

“Do not create a crisis because I will order everybody in the executive department not to honor you. Ito prangkahan, kasi nakialam kayo (I’m being frank, because you meddled),” he said.

“Just because you are the Supreme Court, you order me? I will not follow you,” he added.

WOW!

Indeed, this is an interesting development in the government’s relentless fight against illegal drugs and a defining moment of Duterte’s presidency!

The interesting incoming Duterte presidency

 

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte

There is no doubt that like most of us in the country the outside world are also all eyes at the incoming administration of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte with thought-provoking interest.

And for a compelling reason!

Not only is it interesting to note that over 16 million Filipinos gave Duterte the authorization to go ahead with his bold plan of fighting corruption, criminality and drugs, not to mention the resolute idea of changing the existing form of government to federalism in order for peace and stability to be finally realized and sustained all over the archipelago, but more enthralling is the manner by which Duterte was able to win the support of practically all the political parties, including the once formidable Liberal party.

Duterte has not been sworn in to office yet, but it seems that events are unfolding already the way he planned it with the acceptance and endorsement of his programs and policies by government officials, especially the politicians in both houses of congress.

I would like to believe that more than political expediency, political will and the fearless and no-nonsense leadership of Duterte is what entices the people in government to support the president-elect’s advocacies which all redounds to improving lives of Filipinos under a country that will soon get rid of its ills.

With the speakership and the senate presidency tucked in under the belt of Duterte appointees, it will now be easier for Duterte to make things happen faster without much contentious debate that can be frustrating at times.

It is interesting and encouraging to see how the drug menace is being attended to by the police today. Perhaps we are looking at a preview of what to expect when the Duterte administration takes over, but this is just a milder view of it, I suppose.

I can’t wait to see the all out war against corruption, criminality and drugs. Many were skeptical including me that this could be solved within six months, but the way things are going the chances that it could be done is darn good!

Never has an incoming president of the country silenced the Church, but there is now a deafening silence from its high officials.

Never has an incoming president been brutally frank to the media about their faults and disallowed them to cover him even when the ‘honeymoon’ hasn’t started yet.

Never has an incoming president disparaged at high ranking UN personnel who warned him against “inciting violence” after he made his controversial remarks on media killings.

Expect many more of Duterte’s quirks when he assumes office.

This is what makes him totally different from other presidents we had had.

This is what makes him more interesting and intriguing political animal worthy of praise.