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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, July 4, 2016
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Ladies and gentlemen

Ninfa Leonardia A news headline in a national daily Saturday said “PRO nabs lady drug pusher”. Goodness Gracious, if she is a drug pusher, she surely ain't no lady! The “lady” was identified as Jessica Crovera, 38, who was arrested with three other cohorts who, I suppose, were no gentlemen, either.

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The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, is not going to attend the 11 th Asia-Europe Summit and is sending in his stead Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay. The summit will be held in Mongolia July 15 to 16 and is expected to take up, among others, the China sea conflict. I guess the President does not feel up to such meetings this early in his term, so it was wise to send somebody else. But is Yasay himself not new to the post, too?

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Meanwhile, it was a pleasant surprise to see another headline saying “Palace slams attack on radio man. I think the reaction involved the shooting of a radio personality from Surigao whose 12-year-old son was also wounded. But who in the palace said that? Could it have been the President, and did he not ask first if the radio man was corrupt and deserved it? Well, it could be that he is finally listening to advice, or has allowed his people to temper his own statements to make them less aggressive. A change for the better, it could be.

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This is something that bus drivers and even jeepney drivers should take a lesson from. Two bus firms in Manila as well as their drivers were fined P5,000 each for their treatment of a person with disability, or PWD, whom they would not allow to sit in the seats supposedly reserved for them. The complainant, a polio survivor, took the case to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board which took immediate action on the case and penalized the erring drivers and their companies as well. I hope local drivers and transportation companies sit up and take a cue from this.

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How long will the fertilizer fund scam haunt the members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives who had been spoiled by their over-generous pork barrel allowances? Remember the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund, or PDAF, that senators and congressmen were blessed with before? Because they were not required accountability for it, they fell into the bogus non-government organization traps set by the enterprising Janet Lim Napoles.

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So far, some have already been charged, but others are still “waiting in the wings”, so to speak. In fact, some former congressmen who had been bragging that they are not included in the scam, are said to be “in” for related misdeeds, like having forged the signatures of alleged beneficiaries. At least the pork barrel practice has since been stopped, and members of Congress have to rely on their charms and coercive skills to get projects for their districts from department heads, with no pork to use.

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Two of the latest to be required to answer for their deeds are the former mayors of Norala, South Cotabato, Romeo Januto of Jose Abad Santos town of Davao Occidental and Mayor Alex Wangkay, who are facing the cases together with some of their officials. Januto is in for only P1.8 million worth of fertilizer through direct contracting and without public bidding. Wangkay, meanwhile, was indicated for irregularities in the bidding for a P5 million water project in 2009 yet.

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But worst is the case of Department of Finance officials who have been sentenced to jail after being found guilty of graft in tax credit scams in 1997 to 1998. Deputy Executive Director UIdarico Undotan Jr. and four others were also perpetually disqualified from public service, and required to pay back to the National Treasury the amount of P9,699,639. They will also suffer six to 10 years imprisonment for each count and most of them are charged with seven counts! Try computing that.*

 

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