Nalzaro: Not a guarantee

Bobby Nalzaro

I WAS not poor when I joined the government.” This was the reaction of Land Transportation Office (LTO) Director Victor Caindec on the allegations of his biological father, Victorio “Sonny‘”Caindec, that he amassed unexplained wealth in just a span of two years after being appointed to his current position.

Caindec said he was already a millionaire prior to his appointment as he received fat retirement benefits from his private employer. Besides, he has a car detailing business. He admitted owning expensive cars as alleged by his estranged father, whom he has a long standing grudge since his childhood days.

But is being rich a guarantee that a public official will no longer commit graft and corruption while in office? No. It’s not a guarantee. Temptation will always follow you like a shadow. How many rich and prominent people have committed and have been charged with graft and corruption and even plunder.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada was charged and in fact was convicted of plunder. Plunder is an accumulation of ill-gotten wealth of more than P50 million based on Republic Act 7080, or an act defining and penalizing the crime of plunder.

What about former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla over the pork barrel funds scam? I presumed and believed that these personalities were already millionaires before they joined the political arena and yet they allegedly committed wrongdoings. Revilla, though, was later acquitted by the Sandiganbayan. How many members of the House of Representatives who are perceived to be rich because they can afford to buy votes and spend millions during elections and yet they demand commissions and SOP from their projects? And what about the Marcoses?

So the statement of Caindec that he is rich and he will no longer “steal” in office is a misnomer. LTO, like its counterpart the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Bureau of Customs, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other government agencies, are perceived to be graft-ridden agencies. In fact, President Duterte threatened to abolish LTO and LTFRB if they cannot eliminate graft and corruption.

Did Caindec manage to eliminate the “under-the-table deal” practiced by his corrupt people, demanding P7,500 from new driver’s license applicants? If the applicant will not succumb to their demand, they will fail the applicant in the written and practical exams. How much is Caindec’s share in this modus? Is he also receiving a share from drug testing centers? I am not accusing, I am just asking? What about the non-appearance of vehicles during registration at the MVIS? If the LTO 7 has been doing its job well, we should no longer see vehicles on the streets belching black smoke. And what about his relatives acting as insurance agents?

Forms of corruption vary, but includes bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, graft and embezzlement. Corruption has been defined differently. For example, in a simple context while performing work for a government or as representative, it is unethical to accept a gift. Any free gift could be construed as scheme to lure the recipient towards some biases. In most cases, the same gift is seen as an intention to seek certain favors, such as work promotion, tipping in order to win a contract, job or exemption from certain tasks in the case of a junior employee giving gift to a senior employee who can be key in winning the favor.

Some forms of corruption-now called ‘institutional corruption”--are distinguished from bribery and other kinds of obvious personal gain. A similar problem of corruption arises in any institution that depends on financial support from people who have interest that may conflict with the primary purpose of the institution.

Among the causes of corruption are political and economic environment, professional ethics and morality and, of course, habits, customs and tradition and demographic.

Did Caindec not commit any of those acts enumerated above? If he has not, then he is a candidate for sainthood.

Again, I will reiterate my challenge to Caindec. If he can produce documents that I own a brand new BMW car, he can have it. The other challenge is to make public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. Then, since he has a spat with father, I challenge him to change his family name.