Rough Cuts: Striking a ‘decisive blow’ vs. corruption

We strongly support the proposition of our friend Architect Florencio “Chito” Gavino that if the government is to succeed in fighting corruption President Rodrigo Duterte must strike a “decisive blow” against this long social illness that is plaguing the country. Chito is consultant of the Davao-based People’s RevGov for Real Democracy (PRRD) and the Kilos Pederal sa Pagbabago. RevGov stands for Revolutionary Government.

Yes, we believe that in fighting corruption which had been known part of the country’s government operating system since the Philippines’ formal existence, only a “hammer blow” can strike fear to those who are doing it.

However, that “decisive blow” can only be done using the “hammer” in possession of persons with hands that, in conscience, can pass the test of immaculateness. And we mean hands that are not only those of the President’s but those of the men and women he has chosen to help him run his administration.

Yes, the President’s record of governance since the start of his political career can undoubtedly prove that he has not dipped his hands in the government coffers to fund his personal lifestyle. Not even the most vocal and vicious of his critics in Sen. Antonio Trillanes has presented ex cathedra proof in any of his claims of the President’s amassing of ill-gotten wealth. Hence, the country’s chief executive can be the most appropriate person to possess the “hammer” and deliver the “decisive blow” in the fight against corruption in government. So, what could have deterred the President from using that “hammer?”

Unfortunately for the President however, there are a lot of factors that put weight on his hands that it has become extremely heavy for him to raise the “hammer” and deliver the “decisive blow.”

We can cite two of these so-called weight enhancers that are hindering the President’s campaign against corruption. One is the country’s highly protective legal system to the rights of individuals. Another is the presence of people who only have their eyes set on government projects that they can surreptitiously make big money without much effort except facilitating their approval and implementation. It is this situation that might have put the President’s anti-corruption efforts in near standstill, if at all less effective.

Yes, if the President will be able to muster enough strength to use the “hammer” to deliver the needed blow he would end up striking first the very structure of his own organization. And he will not even be certain whether any such strike will totally impact on the corruption infrastructure. Why, because as we have mentioned earlier, there is a built-in maze of protection provided by the country’s legal system.

This is probably the reason why our friend Chito’s PRRD is advocating not just the change in form of the government but also putting up ahead of Federalization, the conversion by the President of the present administration into a revolutionary government (RevGov). It is on this aspect that we are not in agreement with the good architect.

Frankly, we believe that even with some institutionalized bars the President has to hurdle in his fight against corruption, he can still lift that “hammer” and deliver the “decisive blow.” Meaning, axing a corrupt Cabinet member or any officials with influential positions in his administration, should not be the end of it all. The President must ensure that the corrupt officials are prosecuted to the end, and is meted with the appropriate sanctions of their misdeeds.

The President must also call in the support of the co-equal branch of government, the Judiciary, not to allow any delay in the deliberation of graft and corruption cases against officials finally charged in court for such infraction.

We assume that the Judiciary will not deny such request of the Executive Department since it would mean cleansing the government of its “resident evil.” But then, again, it is common knowledge that graft and corruption is one evil that has extended its residency also in the country’s judiciary. All these, we can possibly assert, will make the President’s war against corruption a modern day proverbial “fight against the wind mill.”

So, can the President still succeed? Yes, if he uses his political will; if he is not afraid to be rebuffed by some graft tainted courts men; if he is willing to lose some of his closest friends and even relatives.

Above all, the President should not forget his major campaign promise of changing the government from its present highly centralized form to a Federal system to make it more accessible to the people who are in reality, both the government and the governed.

But no Revolutionary Government along the way please.

Posted in Opinion