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EDITORIAL: Tyrants All

Ghost and short deliveries are terms commonly known within the bureaucratic circle. They have been in practice since time immemorial. Therefore, there is nothing shocking about them. Anyone in the know of government transactions involving deliveries of office supplies, construction materials, medicines as well as medical equipment cannot ignore the fact that government offices are bugged by such scandal. Feigning surprise about its existence is hypocrisy.

Fake deliveries have been the bread and butter of business people engaged in supplying government office materials. DPWH is well known for this. Sometimes there is no delivery of construction materials like sand and gravel and yet on paper it appears compliant.

Short deliveries are resorted to by people who make it appear that the volume reflected in the contract is fully satisfied notwithstanding the fact that it is deficient in terms of either quality or quantity. A case in point is sand and gravel. While the contract reflects the quality of materials of high grade and yet what is being delivered is of poor quality. The worst scenario is when a certain volume of materials contained in a cargo truck is made to appear containing say so much number of cubic meters and yet they manipulate the number almost double the volume.

When inspection time comes and the irregularity is uncovered, occurrences of flood and typhoon become the easy excuse, with the explanation that the materials had been wiped away by the calamity. Of course such irregularity could not have happened without the connivance of project engineers, inspectors, accountants and auditors who are in cahoots.

This anomaly has also been in practice even in the procurement of medicines and medical supplies long before involving some personnel of Bureau of Local Government Finance, local government treasurers, executives, and of course auditors.

The discovery therefore by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee about alleged ghost deliveries of medical supplies and equipment linking Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation is not at all shocking. Those shenanigans had been going on ever since and many had become super rich via this scandal.

But if ever the anomaly uncovered by the Senate committee has touched a very sensitive chord, it is because of the amount involved and the moral depravity of those who enrich themselves by the billions, without any concern of the fact that the nation bleeds in the midst of a pandemic. Of late the inquiries revealed that the top level officials of the corporation involved have the callousness of purchasing luxury vehicles, obviously using funds from the scandalous profit generated from the questionable transaction.

On this regard the manner by which committee chairman Richard Gordon has long been the object of criticism, particularly in reference to the mistreatment which invited guests are exposed. Gordon’s behavior is tyrannical and peppered with abusive language.

Be that as it may, any criticism against the procedure of the committee cannot outweigh the manner with which Malacañan has responded, which according to the senator, gives rise to the impression that President Duterte’s behavior is unpresidential, with particular emphasis on the observation that somebody is behaving not like a president but as a lawyer of the parties involved in the scandal.

At this point in time so much water has passed under the bridge. And now that the bridge is ablaze there is no other choice left but to pursue the investigation to the end , subject of course to the conditionality that such legislative inquiries are in aid of legislation.

As to President Duterte and Senator Gordon, they deserve each other. It is a pot calling the kettle black. Both are despots. In these times of serious economic and health crisis, can the people enjoy the circus, with empty stomachs and in the midst of a pandemic?

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