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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Plunderers deserve no less than death penalty

 

death-penaltyI have always been for death penalty and my most recent verbalization on this can be seen at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/the-revival-of-the-death-penalty/.

Understandably House members are still debating on House Bill No. 4727, which seeks to re-impose the death penalty in the country.

But what I do not understand is why some representatives want the crime of plunder be excluded from those heinous crimes punishable by death.

As suitably defined in our laws, plunder is the criminal act of “amass(ing) accumulat(ing) or acquir(ing) ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts… in the aggregate amount or total value of at least P50 million,” punishable with reclusion perpetua to death, according to Republic Act 7080 as amended by Republic Act 7659.

But the penalty of death was abolished for all heinous crimes (including plunder) after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 signed Republic Act 9346, which repealed all laws imposing the penalty of death.

What is more ironic than a former president repealing the penalty of death for all heinous crimes, including plunder, when Arroyo herself got ordered to be arrested for plunder.

But that is neither here nor there now as the Supreme Court dismissed the plunder charge against Arroyo and ordered her freed immediately after five years of hospital detention.

What I am just bringing to light here is that plunder can be and is, indeed, a heinous crime especially if committed by high-profile public officials.

Death penalty becomes even more warranted when public officials sworn to serve and protect the Filipinos are the ones making the lives of the poor people more wretched and miserable.

As if we have not heard of the greatest plunderer of all, the dictator Marcos, and how ravaged the country was after he was booted out.

Fresh in our minds is the alleged despicable participation in the pork barrel scam by former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. While Enrile was allowed bail for humanitarian considerations, both Revilla and Estrada are still in detention.

I don’t even agree that a certain amount of money has to be willfully stolen first, like P50-million, before one is charged with plunder. Hell, any inconceivable amount will do for it is not really about the amount of money plundered by an elected or appointed government official, or by someone from the private sector, that matters most, but rather it is the scandalous, disgraceful and dishonest way of enriching yourself at the expense of the earnest respect, belief, trust and confidence of the people that have placed you in your position of influence and power that you deserve to be hanged.

I could not agree more, therefore, with Sen. Panfilo Lacson when he said: “A plunderer kills more people than a murderer. A murderer kills one person while with a plunderer, many people die of hunger because of the plunder.”

Or it can also be said that a murderer destroys a life or two, but a plunderer commits a heinous crime that could destroy a family and possibly the future of a  generation to come.