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Friday, May 1, 2015

‘Wangwang’ alive and well


WHO said rampant corruption and other forms of anomalies are no longer the norm in the Aquino administration? Who said the “padrino” system and the “wangwang” mentality were banished by President Noynoy Aquino?
All these are alive and well as the recent resignation of reformist Customs Commissioner John Sevilla and other incidents would show.
The President himself said wangwang is a culture; it goes beyond the use of sirens, blinkers and special plates. It’s really about this VIP syndrome—the privileges, perks and pelf that politicians and government officials think they are entitled to.
Under his watch, Aquino vowed that the same rules will apply to both government officials and the people whom they are supposed to serve. No more special treatment and no more special favors.
And yet he and his subalterns themselves seem bent on perpetrating the wangwang culture.
In the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Sevilla was already introducing and implementing bold and radical reforms that would put an end to corrupt practices and the padrino system among officials and employees of the BOC.
If Sevilla is to be believed—and I for one believe him as he is very credible and Malacañang people say so themselves—then the President’s own people got in the way of Sevilla’s earnest efforts to get rid of the padrino system in the Customs bureau in favor of making appointments and promotions based purely on merit.
Influential individuals or groups belonging to the President’s inner circle were serving as patrons in backing appointments or promotions in the BOC to the detriment of the merit system that Sevilla was in the process of implementing.
How can Sevilla be effective in eradicating corruption in the bureau if the President and his people would get in the way? Indeed, no BOC Commissioner could be successful if the President and the entire force of his office would not be fully supportive. The same goes for any department or office in government.
The President promised that political “padrinos” would be a thing of the past under his administration. This promise has fallen way, way short of fulfillment. Soliciting political recommendations under the Aquino administration is de rigueur and has been the practice in many areas of the bureaucracy. Political decisions such as appointments in government have not been based on merit under his term. On the contrary, he has been appointing close friends, shooting buddies, classmates, former bodyguards to sensitive posts.
What really gets my goat though is how he seems to make light of everything when it concerns the people close to him. The President or his subalterns would always say there’s much ado about nothing, that there are more important issues facing the country that we should be concerned with. They are quick to sweep issues under the rug.
They pooh-poohed credible allegations against former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, former Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., former Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres, former Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno and others. It really gives the impression that President Aquino is kunsintidor.
Again, what happened to the major reforms he promised to push in his administration? Did he not say that he would cleanse agencies known for being ‘corruption hotspots’? Why then would he not support and even get in the way of people like Sevilla, who has been doing comprehensive reforms in his agency?
To begin with it is already so difficult to effect radical reforms in the BOC, where by the President’s own admission over P200-billion worth of government money is lost due to corruption within the bureaucracy. You can just imagine how much more difficult it is if the President’s own trusted people get in the way of his administration’s “Tuwid na daan” campaign.
Other examples
This government department head’s security convoy is notorious along the Skyway for bullying other southbound motorists off their lanes as they see fit. Yes wangwang is so back when the supposedly ‘just’ people in government are the ones doing it.
This assistant director of a government motorpool office recently gifted her daughter who just got married with a P12-million house in a subdivision and a franchise of a well-known convenience store, lavish gifts she definitely could not afford with her salary. Ironically, her corruption was reigned in during the allegedly corrupt administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while it’s on full blast and wanton display in today’s Tuwid na Daan of P-Noy.
I have heard from businessmen friends of how government officials and regulators have solicited money from them to fund their raffles, team building and other events and parties. This too should not be part of Tuwid na Daan and yet it’s not a thing of the past. The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713) prohibits officials and employees from soliciting money or gifts of any kind.

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