HOWIE SEE IT: Corruption amid COVID’s eruption

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By Atty. Howie Calleja

As it now stands, we are battling this COVID-19 Crisis on two fronts — controlling the virus itself and curbing the apparent corruption that goes with it. As we battle this COVID-19 Pandemic we are also battling the endemic corruption slowly unraveling before us.

Senators has now focused their attention on Lao’s award of P8.7 billion in contracts to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., a firm set up only in 2019 with a capitalization of P650,000. Lao’s PS-DBM awarded 11 contracts to mostly Chinese firms — Pharmally was purportedly the only Filipino one — for face masks and face shields that were deemed nauseatingly overpriced.

Our government institutions have been overrun by political interest without regard to checks and balances. Adding more insult to injury our 1.1 trillion in debt for our COVID response was supposed to be enough for the Filipino people’s needs but seemingly not enough for Mr. Duterte and his administration’s greed.

As noted by Transparency International, corruption diverts funds from essential services from healthcare, leaving our country vulnerable and under-prepared to deal with this COVID Health Crisis. A lack of transparency in the allotment of resources – a practice positively associated with corruption – weakens the effectiveness of crisis responses, and countries that perform poorly in controlling corruption tend to breach human rights and democratic norms in their management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his propaganda rhetoric, Mr. Duterte would always boast that he “hates corruption the same way he hates drugs” and that in just a whiff of corruption he would never hesitate to remove these people from public office. So where is your outspoken conceit now? Instead, you rally behind their corruption and castigate those who want to put an end to such treachery during these difficult times brought about by COVID-19. You grievously allowed Corruption amid COVID’s Eruption.

Your unscrupulous and devious minions have made this emergency situation as a perfect excuse to present transparency and anti-corruption measures as an obstacle to a quick and effective government response. Transparency, however, is key to the fair and efficient management of emergencies as it helps ensure that the resources reach their intended beneficiaries.

Corruption stinks in all levels and departments of this administration, and Congress cannot even avoid being an enabler when they have allowed and closed their eyes and ears for the last five years. This Pharmally scandal appears only to be the tip of the iceberg as the elephant in the room rears its ugly head.

We can now see past your populist façade, and your public apology is as empty as your promises. And by the way, trying to ascertain whether your statements are real or just a joke is no longer of significance because obviously everything you say is just a hoax. Everything is just a camouflage of a failed government response. You have failed in mitigating our current health crisis because you were busy with your corrupt practices which are now in full public display.

Let me just conclude by saying that both the President and Sec. Roque’s “I AM SORRY” can not be considered as a genuine apology. For if you are genuinely sorry and express remorse, you are admitting to yourself and to the one you wronged that you are not perfect and that something you did hurt or offended them. But till this point, all you did is to arrogantly deny your failures and obvious corruptions and hide behind the pretense of remorse you have no intention of taking accountability for.