FIRING LINE By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

FIRING LINE By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Go, see a doctor

No one questions President Duterte for letting heads roll at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) as details of corruption at its slimiest finally leaked out of Bilibid onto the Senate floor.

It’s a disgrace to discover how corruption at the uniformed ranks has deprived common inmates of the right measure of food and healthcare, while big-time convicts seem to have it their way inside and, eventually, out of prison through the gift of GCTA (good conduct time allowance).

 Certainly, no one’s crying over Nicanor Faeldon – at the center of a fiasco, yet again – as Duterte cuts him loose from government. I have not seen a face in this administration that has shamed himself and the President quite as much as Faeldon: first, over drugs being smuggled out of the Bureau of Customs; and, given this second chance by Duterte, over inmates buying themselves out of their jail sentences.

Recently, though, Senator Bong Go, whose closeness to the President is “mac ‘n cheese”, goes on record to say that Duterte has not lost confidence in Faeldon.

This is shocking, if not perilous for a nation that adores its leader for his tough, albeit near-fatal, stance against corruption. Are we to conclude that in the future, such a fellow of ill repute will be favored by the President for another public service post? Good luck, Mr. President.

Perhaps, Sen. Go, too, should have a self-editing mechanism in his head. It does not help the situation at Bilibid nor the position of his “boss” to give consolatory remarks for one like the disgraced BuCor chief.

In fact, Go went further as to pass on the blame to the inmates for irregularities in Bilibid while these are responsibilities that fall squarely on the shoulders of BuCor officials – a job they did not perform well, to say the least.

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Last Sunday, I got a call from a distressed fellow Lions Clubs International past district governor, Dr. Primitivo D. Chua. The former two-term president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) lambasted Sen. Go for suggesting that inmates at Bilibid who fake sickness in order to get a pass to the hospital should be poisoned.

Dr. Chua was referring to an article published in a national daily, quoting Go as saying that convicts who fake illnesses in order to be confined at a hospital, should be administered with poison through an IV line. Whether or not Go said it in jest, Dr. Chua feels strongly about it. Here’s what he says:

“That should not even be said as a joke. No doctor will administer poison on a patient – whether he is faking sickness or not. Prisoners are still human beings; maybe they fake illness to escape the torturous conditions of a jail cell and find respite in a hospital bed. Why should we poison them? I had high respect for Senator Bong Go, but because of what he said, I am outraged;

“As a doctor and former PMA president, I vow to go after any doctor who agrees to such a crime. I will strip him of his license, and I will make sure he is charged with murder! What Bong Go is saying is very unchristian, and it is very unkind.”

I could not agree more with the good doctor. I suggest Sen. Go see this doctor. Or, just see a doctor.

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Editor’s Note: Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin’s tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, at age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, the online news site Beyond Deadlines, and now for THEPHILBIZNEWS.COM. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012. His column appearing here regularly will be written in Filipino on Tuesdays and in English on Thursdays.

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