It’s about time

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

The super expensive watch that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III wore during a congressional hearing early this year should have set off alarm bells even then.

Some eagle-eyed netizens pointed to Duque’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra watch, which costs P13.3 million.

I wrote about the watch on my Facebook account on April 6, 2021, after my previous newspaper didn’t use it in my column for one reason or the other.

I saw Duque wearing the watch on a Twitter post image, which I pasted on my Facebook wall.

The current Ombudsman, Samuel Martires, should have noticed the blatant display of wealth by the health secretary, since the picture went viral.

But I think Martires is a friend of Duque’s.

Ombudsman Martires has been reportedly averse to doing lifestyle checks on government officials.

If you ask me, Martires, a former Supreme Court associate justice, is a useless tribune of the people.

Let me tell you about Martires’ background as regional trial court judge in Agoo, La Union. He was charged by a fellow judge of gross ignorance of the law, incompetence, abuse of authority and dereliction of duty with the High Tribunal. The complaint was dismissed, however.

Now, let’s go back to Duque wearing an expensive watch to a congressional hearing.

Even if the health secretary could afford to buy the Audemars Piguet (exact value: P13,313,532.00 according to Chrono24.ph, an online store for expensive watches), propriety dictates that he should be simple in lifestyle since he’s a government official.

If Duque is a multimillionaire, he could have worn the super-expensive watch after stepping down as health secretary for all we care.

I know President “Digong” Duterte collects antique and expensive watches (as he collects guns), but have you seen him wear one?

Duque’s wearing an expensive timepiece in public smacks of hubris.

Now that the Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged Duque’s Department of Health for misspending P67 billion worth of COVID-19 funds, we know the probable provenance of that watch.

*      *      *

Duque said he would explain the COA’s findings “early next week.”

Why should Duque wait until this coming week to explain his clear mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, when he could have defended himself immediately after the COA’s findings were made public?

The answer is obvious: he’s consulting his bright boys on how to justify the misspending of the funds. His bright boys will find ways to extricate him from the quicksand.

*      *      *

People who have extra resources may want to donate food to our hungry compatriots who have lost their jobs because of the current lockdown.

Rice and canned goods in packs will do; cooked food can’t be distributed in public, as it would violate social distancing.

A food pack of rice and canned goods will feed a poor family for a day or two.

You can course your donations to charitable organizations like the Canossian Sisters of San Juan, Missionaries of Charity in Tondo and the Philippine Red Cross.

Caveat: Don’t course your donations to politicians in your locality as your charity might be used for their political gimmickry.

*      *      *

A US federal court has indicted former US diplomat Dean Cheves for allegedly engaging in illicit sexual conduct and child pornography while assigned in the Philippines from September 2020 to February 2021.

Cheves faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for illicit sexual conduct and up to 10 years for possession of child pornography.

He was caught in possession of the illicit materials inside his embassy residence in Manila.

Even if our law enforcement agencies came to know about Cheves’ immoral and illegal acts, they could not arrest him as he had diplomatic immunity.

In contrast, our ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Bienvenido Tejano, has yet to face sanctions from our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for allegedly committing rape in that country.

Since Tejano could not be arrested or indicted in that country because he has diplomatic immunity, he should be recalled to the home office in Manila.

If reports about him are true, Tejano can be considered a sex fiend.

Two of his nieces – daughters of his siblings – and a grandniece have complained to Isumbong mo kay Tulfo that Tejano raped them while they were minors and under his care.

*      *      *

Police Staff Sgt. Imran Jilah shot dead Col. Michael Bawayan, Sulu provincial police chief, who reprimanded him for sporting long hair.

Such an incident was unthinkable during the time of my father, Ramon S. Tulfo, who was assistant provincial commander of the Sulu Philippine Constabulary (PC) Command in 1964-65.

The PC is the forerunner of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In Camp Keithley in Dansalan (now Marawi) City, my father – then a captain – beat up a subordinate he found sleeping at his post at the camp’s guardhouse.

In Tacloban City, my old man, then a major and assistant PC commander in Leyte, slapped and kicked an erring corporal in front of a Chinese restaurant owner.

The soldier, who was drunk, didn’t pay his restaurant bill and did lascivious acts on some waitresses. My father also had the soldier detained at the camp stockade (jail) and released only after he paid his restaurant bill from his salary.

How could my father, a diminutive figure (he stood at 5 feet, three inches), hit subordinates who were taller than he was? The answer is: military discipline.

Discipline in the PNP is a far cry from what was the standard in the old PC.

The PNP is an armed civilian organization under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), while the PC was one of the major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

It’s high time the PC was restored as a national police force under the AFP, and the city and town police force under the mayors.


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