The unraveling of the Duterte legacy — corruption Sunstar

The unraveling of the Duterte legacy — corruption Featured

LOOKING back at the early years of the Deegong's rise, from the time he burst into the national consciousness as a maverick, straight-talking, dirty-mouth iconoclast, the promdi has always dominated center stage. He conducted a presidential campaign never before seen in the annals of presidential elections, hewing close to the precepts of the oldest classic campaign primer, "How to Win an Election" written by the first professional campaign manager, Quintus Tullius Cicero, for his brother Marcus, Rome's greatest orator, when he successfully ran for Consul of the Republic in 64 BC. With Duterte's DDS sycophants from Davao, where he ran undefeated in all the elections he participated in, he must have even improved on Cicero with a dash of Machiavelli.

He seduces the crowd with down-to-earth street patois seasoned with expletives never before heard in campaign sorties, nonetheless a language the young and the not-so-old found refreshing, even endearing, for its novelty and uniqueness. Projecting an image of "masa-bred barumbado," he later cashed in on this image as a demonstration of political will — erroneous but effective. Only the polite and well-mannered members of the elite, the oligarchy and the self-declared guardians of people's morals and the Catholic Church hierarchy were appalled and revolted by his actuations. But though powerful and influential, they could not prevent the deluge of perversions that was to sweep away the norms and conventions of good governance as reflected by his remarkably high popularity and acceptance rating sustained over his regime's entirety.

He was not an instant hit, but his alpha male personality gained traction growing into the voters' stream of consciousness. He was an acquired taste, unlike his opponents who never had a chance with recycled complex ideas of governance, tired old promises and platform of government coated in data-filled technocratic jargon; prostitutes proffering their virginity, again and again.

2 programs, 2 doctrines

His approach to problem-solving and conflict resolution is linear and exquisite in their simplicity. One core initiative is his illegal drugs program, preventing the Philippines from becoming a narco state. To stop the proliferation of prohibited drugs — just kill the drug lords!

The other is to eradicate government corruption in six months. He will "not tolerate any corruption in his administration and will dismiss from office any of his people tainted even by a 'whiff of corruption;' and he is ready to sack public officials even on a basis of false allegations of corruption." (, March 30, 2017.) Thus was born the Duterte Doctrine on corruption.

These two flagship programs, along with a third, federalism and the systemic restructuring of government, constituted the leading edge of his simplified, clear, comprehensive and masa-directed initiatives forming a substantial part of his legacy.


Writers are fond of paraphrasing aphorisms. Relevant to this column is one from ancient China defining danger and opportunity. What transpired in the country these past two years was a time of great peril yet one of terrific opportunity — two faces of the same coin — one Chinese kanji with contrapuntal meanings.

The danger was the Covid-19 pandemic, curiously originating from China. This Chinese peril swept the world's countries bringing the world to its knees.

This was the point at which President Duterte's legacy began to untangle. The 18 Senate blue ribbon committee (BRC) hearings conducted by Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon spanning over a period of eight months revealed that in the face of peril and danger, an opportunity was deliberately created by the Deegong's men, not coincidentally peopled by his Chinese connection.

The plot was simple as seen in the timelines. Taken from excerpts of my column in September 2021, I rephrase:

"When Covid-19 struck in early 2020, government rushed in to introduce grandiose-sounding laws — the Bayanihan to Heal As One (and Two) — by granting the President emergency powers to combat Covid with humongous funds. These laws were altogether an appropriate and worthy response. But as in any similar bills, the devil is in the details. It allowed the primary tools for graft: negotiated biddings on contrived bidding failures and sleight-of-hand transfers of funds, with leakage somewhere in between; employing obscure patsies "backed by the powerful." To wit:

– August 2019 Christopher Lao, an obscure lawyer, allegedly Sen. Bong Go's stooge (SBG denied this vehemently) was appointed Department of Budget and Management (DBM) undersecretary.

– Jan. 2, 2020, Undersecretary Lao is transferred to the DBM Procurement Service (PS-DBM). (Secretary Wendel Avisado, resigned as DBM head.)

– March 16, 2020, the Government Procurement Policy Board released a resolution incorporating face masks and PPE into common use supplies.

– March 27, 2020, the Department of Health started transferring funds to the PS-DBM, presumably illegally.

– April 16 and 20, 2020, PS-DBM, under Lao, bought overpriced surgical masks from various suppliers.

– April 2020 to June 2020, Lao awarded to undercapitalized Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. contracts worth P6 billion plus; the contracts that PS-BDM awarded to Pharmally reached more than P8.7 billion as a result.

– June 2021, Lao resigns. Offices of favored companies closed, addresses unknown.

Tales of Lo-Liong-Lao-Go

But this did not end here. Subsequent hearings disclosed President Duterte himself seeking to derail the hearings advising his people not to appear before the BRC.

– Health Secretary Duque's transfer of P42 billion of his (DoH) budget to PS-DBM could not have occurred without the "Go signal" of the Deegong.

– PS-DBM was at some point headed by a "musical chairs" of three undersecretaries, lawyers Lo, Liong and Lao, 2016 Duterte campaign protegees of Senator Go. These people, although they carry Chinese surnames, are Filipino, and my citing Lo-Liong-Lao-Go in a rhythmic unisyllabic cadence is not meant to disparage the Chinese or their Chinese ancestry.

– These three lawyers, all Lex Talionis fraternity brods of the Deegong, were slated to move to positions at the Ombudsman. A naughty mind may speculate they could cover their tracks by refusing to do what decent real ombudsmen would do — investigate criminal wrongdoing in the bureaucracy.

– The padrino of these people was established to be the shadowy figure Michael Yang, alias the Dragon, a Chinese national, the "pagador," the guarantor of Pharmally and its related companies, and a personal friend of the Deegong. Yang, who has been in Davao since 1999, claimed to speak no word of Bisaya or Tagalog and feigned illiteracy of the English language yet was at one time appointed by the Deegong as his economic adviser, seen to escort him around China on his visits. Such an escort service is known by many labels — consultant, facilitator, bagman, pagador or locally, in local slang, bugaw (pimp), depending on the package offered and bought.

All these brought to light by the BRC hearings were never contradicted except for denials. What should follow is the Senate approval of the BRC report and the subsequent full-scale investigation and filing of cases. So far, the regime's defense was simply ad hominem attacks on Gordon and his team and delaying tactics using the coming elections as an alibi.

But at this point, it seems obvious who the capo di tutti capi is — the Godfather of them all. But didn't we know this from the start?


Read 811 times Last modified on Wednesday, 09 February 2022 12:08
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