While most Filipinos prefer to grumble in silence if victimized by corruption, it is much better to air out your grievances to the President rather than just keep it to yourself, where nothing happens since this results in the perpetrator repeating his shady practices over and over again on other victims.
Such a vicious cycle can only be broken when the victims speak up, assert their rights, thus catching attention from the highest official in the land who promises to nab the erring public servant and make him pay for the misdeed.
“I can’t help the Filipinos if they do not help me,” President Rodrigo Duterte recently declared before the business community gathered at the Waterfront Airport Hotel in Mactan, Cebu. “All you have to do is give me the name and file a case with the Ombudsman and I will take over. While the Ombudsman is already burdened with too many cases, I will help lighten their load.”
In his speech as the inducting officer of the officers and trustees of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the President urged the public to be vigilant against such shady practices in government offices, especially in immigration and customs.
He bewailed that baggage of top politicians are seldom, if at all, searched by authorities while those of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are carefully inspected, and sometimes extorted from by crooked authorities, especially during the Christmas season.
Duterte also noted that many offices of public officials, such as mayors and regional directors, are indolent with a lack of activity and take too long to complete business procedures and signatures.
“Mayors and other officials should be the first to enter and the last to leave their offices. This is in accordance to their position and responsibilities. Permits should be given a maximum of three days for completion. Remember that computers can also delay the processes even more,” he warned.
The President also cited cases of some firemen who sell fire extinguishers to business establishments in order to speed up the facilitation of the building permits and smoothen out office transactions.
He warned that officials who complicate the business permits procedures may face a lawsuit or outright dismissal due to the nature of their misdeeds.
Duterte, as he is wont to do, discarded his formal speech and opted to speak in an off-the cuff manner, dwelling lengthily on his favorite topics such as the drug menace, extra-judicial killings, and his negative perceptions of the Church and clergy.
Earlier in the afternoon, Duterte led a group of high–ranking government officials in the PhP28-billion Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) groundbreaking ceremonies at the Dapitan-Pilipog area in Cordova where a time capsule was buried.
In attendance were Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho, Sec. Adelino Sitoy, Presidential Adviser on Legislative Matters; MPTDC chair Manuel V. Pangilinan; Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, and many others.
The CCLEX, a public-private partnership, is a toll bridge facility borne through the initiatives of the Cebu City government under Mayor Tomas Osmena and the Municipality of Cordova headed by former Mayor Adelino Sitoy, which aims to ease traffic congestion, foster economic growth and bring to the entire province of Cebu.
The bridge will cover the distance from the South Road Properties to Cordova, thereby providing easy access for residents and vehicles from Southern Cebu to Cordova and Mactan as they no longer need to go to Mandaue City to cross over to the island.
Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corporation (MPTDC), through its subsidiary, the Cebu-Cordova Linked Expressway Corporation (CCLEC) will finance, design, build, and operate the eight-kilometer bridge at very little cost to the government. Construction is expected to start by mid-2017 and is estimated to be finished before 2020.
MPTDC is one of the country’s leading investment holding companies with a proven track record in designing, constructing, financing, and operating toll facilities and expressways.
Some of its projects include the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, and the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway, paving the way for faster and more efficient movement of transportation, goods and services in central areas of the country.
By RICHARD RAMOS