Government accountability

A total of six Bureau of Customs officials in Subic were relieved from their posts — the latest in a string of manpower changes related to the sugar importation issue that cropped up weeks ago. Albeit different and less harsh than the immediate resignation of a Department of Agriculture Undersecretary, the axing of six BoC officials is a strong move that sends the right signals across the bureau. To clarify, these officials were not removed from public service, rather they were transferred to the Office of the Commissioner. The more common terms for this would be “float” or “frozen” for an indefinite period.

It is interesting how corrupt practices are a routine issue that can tarnish an office and a public official, only to find similar cases after a year or two. It is not a ‘make or break’ scenario, meaning, these incidents are forgotten and are expected to recur. Just like the country’s drug problem, corruption is a disease that is nearly impossible to get rid of, akin to cancer. One reason for this should be the law enforcement and judicial system that both have seemingly failed their people, to the point corruption has become a “catch me if you can” charade.

The Department of Budget and Management recently submitted its P5.268T budget to Congress for its consideration and later approval. Each year, the budget is the biggest in history. I do not recall when the budget has decreased, nor am I knowledgeable on whether the increase now is incremental. I am also not knowledgeable on whether this considers the supposed P12.79T national debt left behind by President Rodrigo Duterte. As such, I will not comment on the enormity of the budget.

Instead, I will speculate on how the massive amount will be utilized properly by our government officials, especially those who have been appointed to top positions by President Bongbong Marcos Jr. There is always the problem of efficient and speedy spending by the government offices, whose officials are afraid to quickly pull the trigger on spending due to the number of corruption allegations that may arise after its disbursement. The Government Procurement Act, known to be among the most comprehensive procurement laws in the world, is in doubt on whether it is being followed to the tee.

One of its proponents was now Finance Secretary Ben Diokno, and in reading this law, we can safely assume that there would be initiatives to amend the existing procurement law.

Another item should be, out of the entire budget, how much of it will go to corruption? Those in government will say that this is an unfair and accusatory statement, suggestive of the certainty of corrupt practices. However, those who are knowledgeable of this are certain that it is already part of our Philippine system that is extremely hard to break.

What does that leave us? Us Filipinos who are not in government participate in the system through the democratic process of election. And with the recently concluded elections, wherein the elected President garnered a clear majority of the votes, we have a President who has an obvious mandate to make unwavering changes that will be felt for generations to come. As private citizens, we are praying for the success of the President and his Cabinet since their success will be our country’s success and fortune.

Thus far, and as I have written before, the administration has made fewer to lesser mistakes, if any these can be due to birth pains in every new beginning. May they be guided well; the entire country relies on them.

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For comments, email him at darren.dejesus@gmail.com.

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