Corruption has been in existence since time immemorial, even during the time of Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, betrayed Him and sold Him to the Romans. That was corruption. Corruption is defined as a form of dishonesty or a criminal offense which is undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, in order to acquire illicit benefits or abuse power for one’s private gain. Corruption may involve many illegal activities, such as bribery and embezzlement.
The Philippines is listed as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. According to surveys, the following factors have been attributed as causes of corruption: greed for money, desires, higher levels of market and political monopolization, low levels of democracy, weak civil participation and low political transparency. The impact of corruption disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people in society. Widespread corruption deters investment, weakens economic growth and undermines the rule of law.
In the 2016 presidential elections, one of the campaign promises of then presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte was to eliminate corruption and illegal drugs within a few months of his administration. Indeed, he was elected to the presidency but unfortunately his promise to eliminate corruption remains a promise with barely eight months remaining in office.
But in fairness to Duterte, he initiated some reforms to eliminate corruption during the early part of his administration by firing some of his appointed people. But corruption in government is too prevalent that he raised his hands and said “surrender.” Worse, his close allies have recently been accused of corruption that involves transactions amounting to billions of pesos in relation to the Covid-19 response. The Pharmally issue will hound him until his last days in Malacañang.
Now, it’s election time again and we will be hearing the same promises, including that of eliminating corruption, from our presidential aspirants. At this early stage and even when the official campaign period has yet to start, there is only one presidential aspirant who is talking about his platform of government, which includes eliminating graft and corruption, and that is Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.
Manny Pacquiao is busy distributing cash to his supporters in the areas he visited. Isko Moreno is busy promoting himself by talking about his poverty-stricken life in his younger days. Leni Robredo is busy justifying that she is running because she doesn’t want a Marcos to take over Malacañang. Bongbong Marcos is very awkward talking about corruption when his family was accused of such crime during their stint in Malacañang. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa is busy praying that Inday Sara Duterte will run and replace him.
Lacson said happy days would be over for corrupt leaders if he wins. The senator promised that corrupt individuals in high government positions will suffer a heavy blow. He said it’s not enough to remove only the suspected corrupt underlings from their positions. This is because the subordinates follow if they see that their higher-ups are doing shenanigans. Well, we need an “iron-fist” policy from a firm leader to end corruption in our government.
Talking of corruption, isn’t this the case if we believe the allegation of quarry operator Benito Aratea that some Cebu City Hall top officials received bribe from him to allow him to open a road in the mountain area that will connect barangays Pardo and Toong?
If the allegation is true, that is corruption to the highest degree. But we will not just immediately swallow his statement hook, line and sinker. Why? Because it might just be a ploy to get back on these officials after City Hall issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against his illegal quarry operation. It could also be politically motivated. But we should not also disregard his accusations because he might be telling the truth. The Ombudsman is the right forum for his allegation so that an investigation can be initiated and the culprits brought to court.
Aratea accused some City Environment and Natural Resources Office officials, City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., former City Attorney Rey Gealon, Metropolitan Cebu Water District chairman Joey Daluz and Jaypee Labella, son of Mayor Edgardo Labella, of receiving bribe from him in exchange of giving him a clearance to open a road in the mountains of Pardo and Toong. Those named vehemently denied the accusation. But the road opening turned out to be an illegal quarry operation which prompted City Hall to issue a CDO which also triggered Aratea’s expose. But why only now? If there is corruption, Aratea is partly to be blamed as corruption “takes two to tango.”
I was furnished a copy of the long explanation of Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas why the Alayon Party which he now heads endorsed his wife, Rhea as the mayoral aspirant of Talisay City and not their long-time ally, Vice Mayor Allan Bucao, who bolted the party and filed his certificate of candidacy as mayor. I will just quote the important excerpts of Samsam’s explanation.
He admitted that his lolo (grandfather), first district Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Eddiegul) promised Bucao to be the party’s mayoral candidate in next year’s election. But the decision to field Rhea came out after the unanimous decision of all barangay captains allied with Alayon.
“On December 2020, our barangay captains eventually confronted me about this and asked me what are my plans especially now that I have been given the task to lead Alayon from now on. They asked me who will run for mayor? Without hesitation I said, ‘Vice Mayor Allan Bucao man atong himoong mayor.’ But I was surprised with how our leaders and our barangay captains reacted. They preferred Bucao to run again as vice mayor and finish his last term. They want continuity of my program so they tossed Rhea.”
Samsam said he met with Bucao and the latter’s wife, Councilor Marieta “Yenyen” Bucao to relay the concern of the barangay captains and to find a formula to solve the problem. After several meetings, the Bucao couple agreed to a status quo of their positions—meaning Allan will still run for vice mayor and Yenyen for city councilor. But, Bucao’s allies started attacking Samsam’s administration on social media that led to the total breakup. Now, can we blame the Gullases for reneging on their promise? We will leave this matter to the Talisaynons this coming elections.