The biggest boast of the Aquino administration is its Daang Matuwid, or good governance, which it says translates into good economics.
On the other hand, its biggest shame could be the unending creativity and rascality in government service during its watch.
As the administration winds down its term in office, with only 89 days remaining, civil servants, big and small, are anxiously trying to execute moneymaking schemes for one last chance to squeeze money from the public and the public coffers.
We thought we saw the height of rascality in the Aquino government when we uncovered, almost by accident, the existence of the 147-billion-peso Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which no less than budget secretary Florencio Abad, Jr. invented with the consent and signature of President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd, and which was used to bribe senators in order to impeach former chief justice Renato Corona.
For sheer audacity and costs to the public interest, nothing that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration did approached this brainchild of Abad.
When the Supreme Court ruled that DAP was illegal and unconsittutional, we thought the administration would learn its lesson. But then under wraps, DAP stealthily mutated into the Bottom Up Budgeting Program (BUB), again an invention of Secretary Abad on orders of his boss that had billions of pesos on the block.
If you think it’s only the top administration officials who are creative and audacious, think again. Those in the middle and lower ranks of the bureaucracy have also been cogitating on and creating scams under President Aquino
Just how creative they can be was unveiled to us by the tanim-bala (bullet-planting) racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Incoming and departing passengers were victimized through the planting of bullets in their luggage. Airport security employees, who were in charge of inspecting luggage, extorted money from passengers in exchange for clearance.
Tanim-bala became an international sensation causing travelers the world over to think twice about visiting the Philippines.
Now comes the latest rascal scheme to fleece the public and the nation dry. After nearly six years of failing to provide license plates for motor vehicles in the country, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has come up with a scheme to provide automobile owners a virtual plate instead of a physical plate.
For some time now, the LTO has been issuing “virtual plates” in lieu of physical ones.
Fortunately, the distribution of these plates has been stopped by the Commission on Audit (COA) on suspicion of irregularity in their procurement.
In a recent TV appearance, LTO chief Roberto Cabrera brashly revealed plans to issue “virtual plates” as a temporary measure to address the backlog in license plates.
An LTO spokesman disclosed that the office has been issuing virtual plates since last year.
This shocking development was exposed when the photograph of a truck with a “virtual plate” went viral on social media, and drew the indignation of citizens.
The LTO tried to explain that the virtual plates contemplated by the agency will comprise alphanumeric combinations assigned temporarily to registered new vehicles. The use of temporary alphanumeric identification would make it easier for the LTO to release the permanent license plates once they become available.
All this, in our view, is absurd and unacceptable.
It is an abomination that a country as big as the Philippines – 100-plus million strong and with a three-trillion-dollar economy – will resort to virtual plates for its vehicle registration system.
We believe that at the root of this is incompetence and rascality. Some people are trying to make money out of an undelivered public good and obligation. And top administration officials have again failed our people.
This is how low governance has sunk during the six years of the son of Cory and Ninoy Aquino. This is how crooked Tuwid na Daan (Straight Path) is in reality.