Foreign News: Opinion
Power Corrupts
Heidi M. Pascual
Chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee whether she knew that she’s signing a contract with a company owned by her brother, the secretary  said
she didn’t know and that no one told her or warned her about it. Really? As we all know, the law prohibits it and the Philippine Constitution is very
specific about it. With such a high government position, all expect a department secretary to know such a basic law. “Ignorance of the law
excuses no one,” as often said and quoted in courts. But I don’t believe in the secretary’s ignorance. Maybe she thought signing a contract with
the PTV 4 Station wouldn’t do her any harm; but specifying which program to put the ad money into did her in.

I was fascinated by the questions of the Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, which truly enlightened the people
listening to, or watching, the senate hearing. Before shooting his questions, Gordon said it’s customary for government agencies placing
advertisements to make sure the TV programs where ads are placed rank high in terms of viewership. Unfortunately, he said the brother’s
program  rank below the spectrum, too far behind news programs that should have been where ads were placed. (And the ranking even came
from the PTV 4 Channel itself!) The block-timer isn’t a news program but a public-service one that caters to people with complaints (against any
government agency or personnel, or against any private individual or entity). Gordon also asked whether the Tourism Department has a Media
Buyer that could have scrutinized which program to place ads to, and make sure the client gets its money’s worth.  While the secretary
emphasized their intention to help the government-run TV Station via their ads, the PTV 4 Station Manager admitted that they only got around Php
20 Million ($400K) from the deal. The secretary’s brother pocketed most of it.

“Corruption must stop NOW!” is the most common quotation coming from the Philippine President, and I must give Duterte credit for his
relentless effort to rid government of corruption. He has kicked out of office many high-ranking officials, many of whom were personal friends,
college buddies, and people who helped him get elected. He continues to investigate government officials and personnel with questionable
wealth, connection to drug rings, and extreme political influence. There’s no question Duterte meant to fulfil his election promise that he would
strive to cleanse the government of corruption. Even law-enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police are not exempt from deep
scrutiny. As a result of Duterte’s fight against corruption, people are now lodging complaints, strengthened by the belief that Duterte would
suppor them. It’s interesting to hear daily news of government officials caught doing questionable transactions, even traffic policemen getting
bribes or law-enforcers collecting daily “tax” from business establishments.

However, there are exceptions to the existing efforts of the Duterte administration on this matter.  When his son-in-law was mentioned in a
Senate investigation on drugs entering the Customs bureau, he was advised by Duterte to keep mum in order to avoid incriminating himself.
Then, Duterte is openly close to former Senator Ferdinand “Bong” Marcos, Jr., and favouring the guy to be his vice president instead of the current
veep, Lennie Robredo. We have to remember that the Philippine government and the claimants against the Marcoses’s ill-gotten wealth are yet
to get full justice. And the latest, the new Speaker of the Philippines’ House of Representatives, is a  former President of the Philippines (2001-
2010), Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose cases of electoral fraud and misuse of state lottery funds were still in the minds of the
Filipinos, despite acquittal by the Supreme Court in 2016. Reportedly, she took the place of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who had a spat
with the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. If media reports were to be believed, then it’s conclusive that being in power truly
has a lot of perks, including choosing leaders in the legislative bodies.

I guess that every country suffers from this disease, although at various levels. If we wonder why people run for political positions, let us admit,
part of their aim is always to enable them to have a taste of power, big or small. It would be wonderful to use that power in order to help the
masses of the people, to promote equality and justice for all, and to promote peace, harmony and security for the country.
By Heidi M. Pascual

It’s probably considered a normal political occurrence nowadays that when a person is in power,
corruption is not far behind. It’s just the strength of that person’s conviction not to fall into the temptation of
amassing illegal wealth or using the position of power to influence major decisions that support certain
groups of people or entities that may impact negatively the country, its citizenry, or its environment.

I was listening to the radio recently when I chanced upon a Blue Ribbon Committee hearing in the Senate
of the Philippines, investigating in-aid-of legislation the advertising contract entered into by the Department
of Tourism with  the government T.V. station  PTV 4, in the amount of Php 120 million (U.S. $2.4 Million),
which was questioned by the Commission on Audit. At first glance, there was absolutely nothing illegal
about the contract, a government agency supporting another government agency through ad placements.
The problem lies in the fact that the contract specified a program, aired on block time, that is owned by a
company whose owner is the brother of the Dept. Of Tourism Secretary (who resigned recently because of
media scrutiny and expectation that President Rodrigo Duterte would fire her anyway). When asked by the