Denormalize corruption

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2021 - 12:00am

It was a very short message, but very much on point.

“Thank you to the US Department of State for this recognition. But more than the recognition, I hope this helps raise awareness. If we want better long-term governance, we need to fight corruption. We have to denormalize it, get it out of our culture,” said Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto after he was recognized by the US State Department as an anti-corruption champion.

I don’t know Vico Sotto. I also don’t know his media team, but I follow his work closely and I very much appreciate it. My friends who live in Pasig speak well of their mayor especially with his initiatives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kudos to the young mayor for speaking out against corruption and actually doing something to fight it by improving transparency and governance in Pasig.

Corruption is that pink elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about. Yet, it exists in so many aspects of our daily lives, in different sectors of society.

How often have we found ourselves in a situation where it’s just so blatantly ingrained in the bureaucracy? How often have we tried the usual route in a government office, only to be offered a faster and more expedited way to get the service that is due us? Sometimes, it’s no better in the private sector.

Corruption and patronage politics, bequeathed to us by our Spanish colonizers, must indeed be taken out of our system. As Vico said, we need to denormalize it. It is not normal, it shouldn’t be the practice, but sadly it is.

Yet, young leaders like Vico show us it can be done. This is the beauty of having new, sincere, and serious leaders.

As the US State Department said, Vico “is a standard-bearer for a new generation of Philippine politicians who prioritize anti-corruption and transparency initiatives in their election campaigns and in office.”

It cited Vico’s prior work in the city council, which resulted in freedom of information legislation that allowed city residents to request for documents without having to provide a justification – the first such law in Metro Manila.

“He pledged to avoid any kickbacks in the awarding of city contracts, established a 24/7 public information and complaints hotline, formally involved civil society organizations in the city’s budgeting and policy making, and mandated that the value of all city government contracts be reduced by at least 10 percent – a measure intended to reduce bribery in the contract awarding process,” it added.

May 2022 elections

Let’s keep this in mind when choosing new leaders next year. As one reader said, voters have to be informed that elections are not a popularity contest.

“Our youth’s future is at stake. They have to get organized and use social media to educate voters about the basic qualifications an elective position requires, aside from citizenship, age, etc. Emphasis must be put on the academic as well as work experience and expertise of all candidates,” he said.

We all need to make voters aware that their choice is not limited to the lesser evil.

I fervently hope we will not repeat the same mistakes. Come May 2022, let us all move forward to progress and inclusive growth by electing leaders who can really change the ills in our society, corruption on top of the list.

As Vico said, “We need to denormalize corruption.”

DDMP REIT: ‘Pamana stock’

It’s now all systems go for the initial public offering of tycoon Injap Sia II’s DDMP REIT, the second real estate investment trust to list in the market after Ayala Land’s AREIT.

That the REIT landscape is taking very good shape in the country is largely due to the efforts of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who allowed revisions in the implementing rules and regulations of the REIT Act of 2009, enough for this powerful financial concept to become a reality.

Property firms waited for this for 11 years, and we are now seeing investors and REIT companies alike reaping the benefits.  AREIT, for instance, has declared dividends of P0.39 per share, putting full-year dividends to P1.32 per share, slightly higher than its projection during the IPO.

Now, we have DDMP’s IPO, proceeds of which would be used to construct about 425,000 square meters of building floor area, which will further translate to a wider leasable portfolio and more recurring rental revenues.

The DDMP basket will include a premier corner lot located along the main thoroughfares of Macapagal Avenue where the first six completed buildings sit on.

But this isn’t just another investment, Sia said. He touted it as a “pamana stock,” which investors can bequeath to their future grandchildren, saying there is underlying titled ownership in the REIT shares.

“Even a hundred years from now it should keep its hard value intact. We see DDMP shares as a ‘pamana stock’ that even our future grandchildren will be happy to inherit,” Sia said in a previous disclosure.



Iris Gonzales’ email address is eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

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