Stop gov’t corruption  — an impossible task?

Published November 7, 2020, 2:51 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The Department of Justice (DOJ) assured last Wednesday, November 4, that those who provide information to the mega task force created to investigate corruption in the government will be given security under the Witness Protection Program.

It may be recalled that President Duterte created the task force over a week earlier, on Monday, October 26. On that day, as a House committee recommended the filing of charges against some Cabinet members over alleged irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., he vowed to use the remainder of his term to stamp out corruption in the government.

The next day, in a radio-TV address to the nation, he said: “Hanggang ngayon, corruption pa rin ang problema. I have made a pledge that I will concentrate the remaining years of my term fighting corruption, kasi hanggang ngayon, hindi humihina, lumalakas pa lalo. Para tuloy, naging inutil ang mga opisyal ng bayan, na wala talalagang magawa with the onslaught of corruption.”

He continued: “Hindi po ako naniniwalang wala akong magawa. May magagawa ako. Hindi lang naman siguro to eradicate corruption in its totality, but I think kami, Cabinet members — we would come up with a very strong stand against corruption.”

He named Justice Secretary Menardo  Guevarra to lead the government-wide investigation of allegations of corruption in all levels of the bureaucracy and even those hurled against members of Congress and local politicians. The focus, he said, should be on the Department of Public Works and Highways.

President Duterte has now been in office four years since he was elected in June,2016. He has accomplished so much in these four years many areas — most notably in crippling the drug syndicates, in carrying out major a construction program all over the country that has already exceeded the record of all previous administrations, in initiating a more independent foreign policy,

Now, in the last two years of his six-year term, he proposes to launch a fight against corruption in government, a problem whose roots go back decades to so many previous administrations. But if indeed, the corruption in government is so widespread today, who are the untainted ones who can carry out the investigation?

In its announcement last Wednesday, the DOJ assured protection for all those who come forward to with personal knowledge of corruption against any government official. There may indeed be some citizens ready to face the risks of exposing a powerful government official and if they are ready to come forward, they really must be given all possible protection from retribution. Otherwise, this may turn out to be a reform campaign with an impossible task.