The straight-path lie

WE have long known that there was something crooked about the Aquino administration’s  Daang Matuwid or straight-path platform of governance. Every now and again over the last five years, it would veer abruptly off course to avoid friends and allies of President Benigno Aquino III then move forward again directly and inexorably at his enemies.

But it was facile to dismiss complaints of selective justice as being politically motivated, since most of the criticism usually came from those who opposed the administration.

This is why it is so significant that the Obama administration has rejected a discreet request from President Aquino for $300 million in military aid over “worries about corruption” and the government’s ability to handle the influx of resources.

This revelation was made in the  New York Times, which said the request had been made in private talks in which the Philippines argued the need for a substantial buildup of planes and ships to deter Chinese expansionism.

This was not some political rival complaining about corruption in the administration; this was the US government making a hard-nosed assessment of the state of governance under President Aquino—and the verdict found him wanting.

Washington’s concerns about official corruption under this administration lays bare President Aquino’s posturing and holier-than-thou pronouncements about his so-called straight path and reveal them all as lies.

Concerns about the government’s ability to handle the influx of resources also recall how this administration failed miserably to mobilize hundreds of millions of pesos is humanitarian aid from here and abroad to help the victims of 2013’s devastating super typhoon “Yolanda.”

Earlier this month, the Commission on Audit took the Department of Social Welfare and Development to task for failing to immediately distribute cash donations and food packs to survivors of the killer storm.

In its 2014 audit report, the CoA said P382 million in local and foreign cash donations for Yolanda victims, representing a third of the P1.15 billion that the DSWD received, remained in the agency’s bank accounts. The CoA report also said the DSWD failed to distribute P141 million worth of family food packs for the typhoon victims, leading to the spoilage of the perishable goods.

These failures not only suggest ineptitude but reek of corruption.

Then, as if we needed more reminders of how this administration has corrupted the notion of good governance, one of the President’s shooting buddies who was hounded from office after a video posted online showed her playing the slots at a casino, figured again in the news after she visited the Bureau of Customs trying to expedite the release of 64 shipping containers of smuggled Thai sugar worth more than P100 million. When her request was met with resistance, former Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres allegedly dropped the President’s name and intimated that the proceeds from the sale of the smuggled sugar would be used in the 2016 national elections.

Against this backdrop, it is no surprise that the United States has been skeptical about the President’s claims that corruption under his watch has been significantly reduced. What is amazing is that so many people here still believe in Mr. Aquino and his biggest lie—that he and his government truly tread the straight path.

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