Corruption never sleeps.
Like the flu, it is a disease that never heals; it mutates with every seasonal outbreak, if not clockwork regularity.
If this is the case, then the chief corruption fighter must also be always on his toes, eyes watchful, and ears glued to the ground for the slightest rumbling of irregularity.
And so we fully agree with an strongly support President Duterte in threatening to detain politicians who would engage in corruption amid the 2019 coronavirus disease health crisis, stressing that the public should never be deceived especially in these times.
He said he would not tolerate corruption, embezzlement, hoarding, and other crimes that could deter the government’s heightened efforts to curb the pandemic.
“I am not a cruel man pero kung may report ang pulis (but if there are police reports), I will order your detention hanggang matapos itong Covid-19 (until the Covid-19 pandemic ends),” he said in a televised public address late Monday night.
He noted that he would also suspend national and local officials involved in politicking.
“If you engage in politicking and I hear about it), I will suspend you ora mismo (on the spot). And for those who are really absconding the money, I will detain you, I said, and maybe I will release you pagkatapos ng Covid (after the pandemic ends),” he said.
He said that “people tasked of distributing the money, food, and relief goods” should do their work “to a tee” or risk being detained.
“There’s a crisis and you (who) would do that…you really deserve to be jailed,” he said.
Under the Bayanihan to Health as One law (Republic Act 11469), P5,000 and P8,000 worth of financial assistance would be given to 18 million low-income households affected by the community quarantine.
RA 11469 states that poor families are to receive the monthly emergency subsidy for two months.
This amount would be given on top of the food packs given to low-income households.
LGU officials who are misappropriating funds for Covid-19 response would be slapped with criminal charges.
Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo issued the stern warning, a day after the President threatened to detain public officials engaged in corruption amid Covid-19 crisis.
“If you’re a local official, you will be suspended. After that, you will face charges. You can’t get away with it. The President will never let that happen,” he said. .
In his address to the nation on Monday night, Duterte announced that his administration has allotted P200-billion relief assistance to some 18 million poor families affected by the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who also serves as spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the national government would not tolerate any abuse of power amid the health crisis.
“The President will immediately suspend the abusive local government officials and detain them, if necessary,” Nograles said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.