Time to investigate Cebu, Bohol officials

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

In the recent news, President Rodrigo Duterte said that the task force ordered to probe allegations of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will also investigate other government agencies.

In a speech aired Tuesday morning, Duterte said he has directed the Department of Justice to look into allegations of corruption in all agencies of the government. The President must have read my column that the corruption is happening in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has struck his friends here in Cebu and Bohol. So now he is going against the BIR, too, not just the DPWH.

Secretary Villar created a task force to probe the alleged anomalies in DPWH. However the President said: “I hope all government workers, officials are listening. This is a memorandum from me to Secretary Menardo Guevarra. The subject is to investigate all allegations of corruption in the entire government. All.”

So what is the Office of the Ombudsman doing to weed out the rats in the BIR?

President Duterte said the DOH may create as many panels as it deems necessary to investigate government offices and shall prosecute and file charges against officials and employees involved in wrongdoings. So the BIR officials should be careful whom they are demanding for under-the-table money.

The chief executive’s directive will remain in effect until June 30, 2022, or when he steps down from office. As no less than President Duterte ran on an anti-corruption platform, he admitted that the corruption in the government has not diminished but is getting stronger.

Aside from the task force that the president announced, his office also has the Presidential Anti-Corruption, which was created in 2017. The Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit are independent offices created by the Constitution as a check on government corruption.

Earlier in the speech, Duterte said the task force he has created will focus on the Department of Public Works and Highways. “This time we will look into every department but upon my request, focus on corruption in the DPWH,” he said. He again criticized the alleged corruption in DPWH but said he does not blame Secretary Mark Villar for the anomalies within his agency.

“I have nothing against Secretary Villar. [He’s] one of the hardworking (people in government) and he has many accomplishments. But you know accomplishments alone, to me, should not suffice,” Duterte said.

“Secretary Villar, it’s not his job to be running after crooks but it behooves upon me to see to it that corruption stops. We’re expanding investigation to Department of] Agriculture with special focus on DPWH,” he added.

Last week, Villar created a task force composed of DPWH that would look into alleged corruption allegations in the agency.

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Pope Francis has appointed the 68-year-old Jose Advincula from Capiz as the latest cardinal in the Philippines. Two others, Cardinals Rosales and Quevedo, retired upon reaching the age of 80. Tagle is the only active Filipino member of the papal conclave at present. He currently occupies two posts in the Vatican as the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and president of the Caritas Internationalis. Advincula is the ninth cardinal from the Philippines, following Luis Antonio Tagle, Orlando Quevedo, Gaudencio Rosales, Jose Sanchez, Ricardo Vidal, Jaime Sin, Julio Rosales and Rufino Santos. Only Rosales, Quevedo and Tagle are still living.

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com .

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