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Opinion

Unwanted scuttlebutt

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

There is scuttlebutt doing the rounds like wildfire, about a Malacañang official collecting P100 million from applicants for juicy positions in the weeks-old administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.

The rumor should be squelched if it’s not true, by finding its provenance. And if it’s true, then the official concerned should be fired.

There’s a saying that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Bongbong Marcos needs the scuttlebutt like a hole in his head.

This early, corrupt officials should be fired before they cause any more trouble.

*      *      *

A total of 1.3 million families have been taken off the list of beneficiaries of the government’s 4Ps program.

4Ps stands for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. It was launched during the administration of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Bongbong Marcos administration has just inherited the program from GMA.

The supposed poverty alleviation program promotes sloth or laziness, and should not have been launched at all.

Instead, the government should have launched a program giving employment to every Filipino.

Poor people must be made to realize that if they don’t work, they can’t eat. The “no-work, no-pay” policy will make poor people realize the dignity-of-labor philosophy.

How ironic that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had to launch 4Ps to alleviate hunger, when her father, president Diosdado Macapagal, had the answer back in 1962.

The Emergency Employment Act of 1962 provides that the State must utilize every possible means to create maximum employment opportunities for all who are able to work but can’t find employment.

The Emergency Employment Act created the Emergency Employment Administration (EEA) that gave work to the unemployed.

I remember that back in the 1980s, District Engineer Salvador Pleyto gave employment to many members of the indigenous Mangyan tribe by having them work in government road projects in Mindoro.

Without probably realizing it, Pleyto, now a Bulacan congressman, was implementing the Emergency Employment Act of 1962.

Bongbong Marcos may want to copy a similar employment program by citing the EEA Act of 1962.

The present Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is on the right track with verifying and cleaning the list of 4Ps beneficiaries.

Most of the beneficiaries do not deserve to be in the program.

I’ve received reports that when the date for receiving 4Ps support arrives through the Land Bank, the people who withdraw the money are no longer the beneficiaries. Lenders who lent money to 4Ps beneficiaries at loan shark interest rates are the ones who end up with the cash from the 4Ps program.

In other words, 4Ps beneficiaries have sold their allowance months in advance to loan sharks.

After selling their allowance to loan sharks, the beneficiaries go to cockfights or spend it on drinking binges.

The past leaders of the DSWD didn’t want the 4Ps program stopped because they benefited from it.

Some DSWD officials probably invented lists of names and pocketed millions of pesos intended for the poor.

Other DSWD leaders probably gave the money intended for the poor to their patrons who recommended them to their positions.

*      *      *

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has refiled a bill establishing drug abuse rehabilitation centers throughout the country.

Bong Go has probably forgotten that there are two big rehabilitation centers in the country: one inside Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and the other in Bukidnon.

The rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija, donated by Chinese real estate developer Huang Rulun, has 10,000 beds.

The one in Bukidnon, donated by billionaire Xu Ming Liang, was expected to accommodate more than 1,000 patients. It was built at a cost of P700 million.

I helped in setting up the rehab center in Bukidnon by introducing Xu, whose Filipino name is Jose Kho, to president Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte during a visit to Malacañang.

Xu had approached me saying he wanted to help the Duterte government in minimizing the number of drug addicts in the country by donating a drug rehabilitation facility. He asked for a piece of land to build the center.

Digong then ordered a large tract of land set aside in Bukidnon for Xu’s rehab center.

The Bukidnon drug center was inaugurated on Aug. 3, 2018. This columnist was invited to the inauguration.

Now, let me ask Bong Go, who was then Special Assistant to the President at the time those rehab centers were built and inaugurated: What happened to those centers?

*      *      *

President Digong conferred on Xu Ming Liang the Order of Lapu-Lapu as a gesture of the country’s gratitude.

The Order of Lapu-Lapu is awarded to government officials and private individuals who contribute significantly to the success of an activity or campaign of the President.

Xu’s son, Kitson Kho, was made a Filipino citizen.

*      *      *

If the Bongbong Marcos government wants to collect the right amount of taxes from big taxpayers, it may consider appointing tax lawyer Clint Aranas to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

This columnist is a witness to Aranas’ honesty when he was BIR deputy commissioner for legal affairs during the time of president Digong.

Aranas’ questioning the low taxes imposed by his superiors on big companies made him a pariah at the BIR.

To appease him, the Digong government transferred him to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) as president and general manager.

At the GSIS, he also questioned why a wealthy businessman was not made to pay rent or lease for buildings owned by the billionaire that occupy government land.

That was Aranas’ undoing as he stepped on the toes of big people in government who are friends of the businessman.

If the Bongbong Marcos government wants a gadfly to challenge the inherent corruption at the BIR, then Aranas is the answer.

FERDINAND “BONGBONG” MARCOS

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