Sentenced for 2 to 25 years
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2019 - 12:00am

This is a true story of how you can be imprisoned from 2 to 25 years without committing a crime.

Imagine yourself as a hard working individual or businessman, a patriotic corporation or just part of an organization that truly believes in the Philippines and the government. Like many others, you readily see the potential projects, business or recognize the legitimate programs of the administration and decide you want to buy in. You know that such a decision will entail a lot of time, effort and some considerable cost to do the necessary studies, file the necessary requirements, or hire and assemble a team of professionals to formulate and submit business proposals. Such costs can and do run into hundreds of thousand even millions of pesos with no guarantees that you can get approval or won’t be pushed out by somebody bigger or with a better proposal.

You’re confident because time and again Presidents, legislators, cabinet members have all said: “It’s a level playing field.” Or you could be just an ordinary citizen whose been promised that “Change is coming,” that you will receive what’s coming to you. So you embrace the administration’s promise, you borrow money, you travel, you fill up forms, and you apply and follow up and follow up and follow up until one morning you learn in the news:

“President Rodrigo Duterte recently revealed that he decided to walk out of a cabinet meeting in disgust after discovering that many project proposals, applications for land grants and similar businesses submitted to the NEDA and DAR have languished for 2 to 25 years.”

Then you realize that your dreams, your trust, your efforts and investments have been imprisoned by political appointees who play as “Gods in government” at your expense and enjoying the perks paid for by taxpayers. Government employees and officials or political appointees may not worry much about the delays they cause or intentionally create for project proposals or taxpayers applications but a delay of 2 to 25 years is equivalent to sending an idea, a dream or people’s future and benefits to prison for that length of time. It is almost impossible to justify delaying proposals or applications for 2 to 25 years. If anything, such lengthy delays is a testament to the wide spread corruption and conflict of interest from the lowest ranks in government all the way to the circle of cabinet members particularly those who sit on the NEDA Board. After the Presidential Walk-out, the Cabinet members should all have walked out in shame!

Failing to do so or choosing to stay on without so much as a courtesy resignation and apology to the President will ultimately explain why certain people, in spite of their high position in the private sector choose to enter government service. NO! It is not to serve the people but apparently to serve themselves as in serve their business interests or the interests of their masters whether they are Taipans, Tycoons, Tisoys or Typhoons a.k.a puppets pretending to be rich and affluent but actually mere fronts for political and criminal money launderers.

A week before his death, former Senator Ed Angara emphatically warned of certain evil personalities who are in government both in the Executive and in Congress simply to promote, expand or protect their corporate or family business interests. I was cautious to embrace his warning, but after studying the inordinate delays laid upon government proposals, after returning to TV and hearing the horror stories of companies that have been unfairly disadvantaged by certain politicians who turn out to be perfect media products but are total frauds and pets of lobbyists, I sincerely mourn in anger for our nation. If no less than the President walks out in disgust because of such criminal delays in government what more for those of us who on the contrary place our trust, capital and creativity in the government?

I applaud President Duterte for publicizing this disgusting whorish delay of project proposals and land grants. Thank you for revealing the shocking truth about 2 to 25 year delays! But let us not end there. If the President’s cabinet members have clear conflict of interests or business history, they should be requested to vacate their seat at NEDA and be replaced with independent and competent presidential appointees preferably from the academe or places like the Development Academy of the Philippines. Cabinet members are already too busy, mostly elderly and overloaded. It would be unfair to give them such a challenge especially when their respective departments may eventually be involved or participating in proposed projects.

By and large, I have witnessed, heard and seen many occasions where government offices both national and local have “fearfully” followed the edict of President Duterte on Ease Of Doing Business where approvals must follow the 3 – 7 or 20-day only rule. Perhaps it is high time for the President to ask his legal and legislative liaison to draft a priority bill that would set time limits on the review and approval of proposals as well as release of government benefits and include stiff fines or penalties for those who fail to abide by the limits or are proven to have conflict or vested interests. The government particularly the SEC regularly punishes individuals for insider trading but who will punish cabinet members and government officials for criminal protectionism and anti-trust activities? 

In any case, I salute President Rodrigo Duterte for stepping out but now I pray to God Almighty that he will step up and step on anti-progress, anti-poor and anti-Philippines in government.

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