CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2018 - 12:00am

Every time a suggestion or offer to serve in government comes my way, the usual argument against public service is the fact that government does not pay well. Then there are too many restrictions concerning external engagements or additional income outside of the official compensation. Yes, you could get add on’s in terms of per diems, directorships etc. but that’s just a complicated way of getting paid for what you’re really worth.

What I did not know is that the restrictions could also extend to your immediate family, spouse or children in a given profession. The wife of one current Cabinet member – DTI Secretary Mon Lopez actually had to give up all of her professional engagements and marketing research consultancies because her husband’s department covers a wide area of businesses and her being a consultant or business partner could be misconstrued as a form of graft or using influence through the relationship.

When people told me that it is a sacrifice if you serve in government, I did not realize that our laws and system punished you for doing so and immediately makes you suspect along with your family. I did not think much about the requirement to submit SALNs in the past but at the rate the SALN is being used to persecute or investigate government officials or question their finances, one would think that becoming a criminal or corrupt in government is such a certainty that you are effectively presumed guilty and have to prove your self innocent every year!

If all that was not insult enough to discourage you, we now have a system where you can be dragged to the Ombudsman, before the Senate, or the press and publicly charged of suspicion to have committed graft or a corrupt act even before prima facie evidence is submitted and deemed sufficient for the filing of charges. What bothers me is that anybody can do it, even if they have no direct knowledge or participation in an incident and even if common knowledge suggests that the filing of charges is just part of a public relations strategy being used by persons or NGOs. Corrections must be made where complaints by private parties or groups should be submitted to the DOJ or the Ombudsman and it will be left to these offices to determine if there is a case and file such. UNTIL then, no person or entity should be given the reckless and irresponsible opportunity to directly meddle, file, brag or broadcast to the world that they are accusing a civil servant or elected official. 

It is about time that the more intelligent and analytical members of Congress, the Senate as well as the government do something to correct the inaccuracies of the law, its misinterpretation and the negative and counter productive effects it has in getting true professionals to join government. Fix the laws so we can get the right people to fix government.

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The Senate investigation of the “overpriced” PCSO Christmas party has turned out to be fake news.

Fake because the committee that was suppose to be investigating how the PCSO could spend P6-10 million for a Christmas party has been investigating everything about STL and jueteng and not much about the 2017 Christmas party.

At the rate the so-called hearings have gone, don’t be surprised if the investigation in aid of legislation ends up being a witch hunt intended to burn former jueteng lords turned legitimate STL operators. From the looks of it, certain people will do everything to demonize those who currently operate Small Town Lottery franchises and create an atmosphere of suspicion that the STL is criminally defective and should be shut down. The only reason for doing this is to throw out the current set of operators and replace them through a very public and hostile takeover of the business.

If you think exposing and demonizing the current operators and investors in STL will bring heaven on earth, think again.  Chances are new appointees will be nominated to the PCSO board of directors by politicians and groups with vested interests.  Then new rules and new bidders will be called in to operate the STL and you can bet that many of them will be familiar faces like those who have been appearing in the Senate.

I am waiting for the day when a veteran jueteng operator actually names and describes in detail the role of some people pretending to be clean. Among them “the collector” of jueteng payola for police and military generals in the past, Senators and Congressmen who’ve gone to jueteng lords for campaign funds, the elected official from a province south of Manila who cornered the jueteng payoff in his province and has been fuming ever since he lost millions of pesos in Tongpats or payola after STL was established. I heard that the guy shamelessly took home a brand new Suburban from the home of an STL operator like he owned it. Then there is the “PMA” class whose retired members formed a group of “investors” and over-bid for an STL franchise in Pangasinan and ended up back channeling the bidder they beat, to sell out their franchise.

There is also the guy who used to be a jueteng operator but had to give up because his customers discovered that the guy monitored bets and would rig results so that the winning numbers would be from the lowest number of bets.  Now he wants to get back in the game even if he keeps professing his dislike and disdain for jueteng. I’m sure people would also love to hear about how a president lost his job because of certain people who orchestrated a coup d’état all because they could not dislodge a jueteng lord from his throne and take over the business. So they dislodged that president to find favor with his replacement.

If dreams come true we might hit the jackpot and see Mayors, Congressmen, Senators, police officials, military officers from the past all in jail playing bingo!

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