I can’t think of the right words to describe this Tweet of blogger and “social media expert” Jane Uymatiao a.k.a. “Citizen Jane” a.k.a. “The Philippine Beat”. She suggests that anyone with a fancy car who runs a business and deals with the government is stealing Filipino taxpayers’ money.
Those are serious allegations you are making against Pharmally executives Linconn Ong, Mohit Dargani and his sister Twinkle Dargani, Ms Uymatiao. Perhaps you need to take a statement from the parties you suggest are involved in criminal activities before you spread this unverified information.
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My high school batchmate Gerry Santos is Mr. Freeze Ice. He owns several high-end sports cars. If he ventured into supplying the government with face masks and PPEs, does that make him a party to corruption if he buys another high-end sports car after that transaction? Alice Eduardo owns a construction company that gets government contracts. Her watch collection has been featured on ANCX. Does that make her a party to corruption?
I was in the business of restoring classic cars as the gofer of the rich who don’t have the time to attend to the details; buying the car, shop to bring the car to for restoration, buying parts, coordinating with tinsmith and painter, getting the interior of the car done by a skilled upholsterer, etc. Some of my customers were customs collectors and customs police, BIR revenue district officers and other sorts of government officials. Some I suspected to be corrupt. Others were members of prominent families in their respective provinces and had the means to pursue an expensive hobby. I couldn’t tell if they were a party to corruption or not.
Corruption exists in government. That is a fact. But it is not limited to the Philippines. Fact is, there is corruption everywhere. What varies is the level of corruption in government. Most of our politicians have palatial and luxurious residences in high-end subdivisions. They also have the best material things money can buy. Is it safe to assume they’re all corrupt? I met the man who was behind the controversial Porsche of former President Noynoy Aquino. I brokered the sale of a Mercedes Benz 190 SL fiberglass body kit to him. I didn’t ask him immediately about the Porsche. Towards the end of my transaction with him he touched on the subject. He implied that it was his gift to Noynoy which the latter accepted. I didn’t ask him for additional details. This is a man who has an original 190 SL but bought the fiberglass body kit because he wanted to build a replica race car and didn’t want to ruin the paint job on his original Benz which is what happens when you make a fiberglass mold from it.
Even Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque has a car collection. Does this make him corrupt if he’s had it since before he joined government?
As ordinary citizens we have this gut feel about corruption amongst government officials. It’s the same with elections. Vote-buying exists but it seldom happens that a candidate gets caught and jailed for it. The simple point I’m making is if we want to put a stop to corruption then we shouldn’t be hypocrites ourselves. The fact is, we are. Why are we so? In my case, it’s to earn a living. In others like the “journalist-activists” who prostitute themselves to parties with vested interests, it’s to earn extra income and be associated with powerful men and women.
During my short stint in government, what I have learned is that it is harder to reform the system than give in and be a party to corruption, at any level. There is small-scale corruption and there is large-scale corruption. The focus has been on former President Ferdinand nMarcos but the truth is, corruption never stopped even after Cory Aquino assumed power following the 1986 EDSA “revolution”. In fact, it got worse because the Marcos cronies became the targets of the officials of the new administration.
What Senator Richard Gordon is doing in the Senate now is far from the campaign against corruption that he’d like us to believe he is spearheading. It is nothing more than the all-too-familiar garden-variety demolition job on the administration one expects of any two-bit Opposition politician. Indeed, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) which Gordon served as chairman of from 1992 to 1998 was the smuggling hub for vehicles, both high-end and low-end, after it was created. Was Gordon ever investigated for this? Importers of these vehicles made a ton of money. Was Gordon blind to this or was he a party to corruption himself? Even chicken was being smuggled at SBMA in the 90s. This was how the owners of this Costco-type wholesale and retail chain made their money which turned them into billionaires. They were pioneers in introducing mechanically-deboned chicken from the US in the local market.
We should open our eyes to these realities. Let’s not by hypocrites anymore. If we want to stop corruption in government, it should come from us by way of our votes. But tell me honestly, even if we did, would we have any candidates left to vote for?
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