It is high time to end the vicious cycle involving corruption cases where those involved lie low until the issue dies down – and the public can play a more active role to achieve this, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Friday.
Lacson, who has actively participated in many Senate investigations involving corruption cases, said those involved have become brazen in pocketing public funds by exploiting such a cycle.
“Some officials have lost all sense of shame. Even if charges are filed against them, they just lie low because they know that once the issue dies down and the public no longer thinks much of it, they can go back to their old ways,” he said in an interview on Radyo Katribu.
“That said, the vicious cycle of corruption is not limited to those in government. It takes two to tango: those who corrupt – and the public who wittingly or otherwise turns a blind eye,” he added.
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He cited as an example the alleged irregularities in the distribution of billions of pesos’ worth of implements to farmers in the provinces.
Lacson noted they received complaints from farmers that the implements they received were defective or conked out easily. He said Agriculture Secretary William Dar had promised to investigate the issue but has not given an update.
“Sec. Dar promised to submit a report not later than April last year. Up to now we have yet to receive it,” he said.
Lacson also noted the yearly insertion of projects by some lawmakers in the annual budget had ballooned over the years – from a time when P50 million was considered scandalous; to some P15 billion for one district in the 2021 proposed budget.
“I don’t know how the Department of Public Works and Highways can implement such projects. It was never involved in the planning for the inserted projects and does not have the absorptive capacity for them,” he said.
On the other hand, Lacson said he hopes the irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which the Senate investigated as a Committee of the Whole last year, will not fall victim to this “vicious cycle.”
He noted the Senate had turned over to the mega task force led by the Department of Justice the documents and other pieces of evidence pointing to wrongdoing in the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, which favored certain medical facilities at the expense of government hospitals handling COVID-19 cases.
“It is high time ordinary Filipinos show they do not have short memories. That would make those involved in corruption think more than twice before exploiting the vicious cycle once again,” he said.