IT ISN’T as though the 184 congressmen who voted “yes” to reject House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano’s resignation were enamored by the latter’s beauty. In the political arena, there is no such thing as fanhood, there is only a coalition that should serve each of its member’s interests.
The tussle on the supposed term-sharing between the gentleman from Taguig-Pateros and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is all about timing—one, it comes during the House of Representatives’ debates on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021; and, two, 2021 happens to be the final stretch towards the 2022 elections. This year simply bungled whatever plans politicians have to place themselves in better positions next year. In other words, the whole speakership ballyhoo is about the coalition’s pie-sharing, pork barrel, everyone scrambling for it; otherwise, there would be nothing to deliver on the eve of the 2022 reckoning.
And deliver these people must. That is the only way to appease constituents, the thick of which are severely hit by the health crisis.
In whatever amount the 2021 budget comes, it certainly paves the way for an open season for those we entrust public funds to. It also comes at a dangerous time when the Office of the Ombudsman, under Samuel Martires, a President Rodrigo Duterte appointee in 2018, pronounced an inclination to be opaque on the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of officials via his memorandum circular entitled “Amended Guidelines on Public Access to SALN of Business Interests and Financial Connections Filed Within the Office of the Ombudsman” on Sept. 1, 2020.
The amendment simply adds a layer of bureaucracy in the disclosure of the SALNs of officials.
Martires said his amendment is pursuant to the implementing rules of Republic Act 6713. Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, in a television interview, said Martires probably misread the law. “He misread the spirit that animated the issuance of the law,” Morales said.
This clamming up on the matter of SALN, with no small help by the Ombudsman’s office itself, not only “misread” the spirit of the law, but simply exorcised it as to make it irrelevant. The SALN disclosure allows the public to check on public officials, if there are incongruities in their declared assets and actual wealth. If anything, it’s where we get first sight of the red flags against corruption.
We challenge, therefore, our local officials not to take the cue from Martires and demonstrate a zeal for transparency. It should be how we measure our officials’ integrity.