Picture this: A mansion in some provincial town far removed from the trappings of the urban jungle sits on a sprawling property, surrounded at a fair distance by ordinary houses of neighbors where water or electricity is as scarce as a white carabao.
You learn that the palatial residence is owned by the municipal mayor, but out of fear that any seemingly harmless word from you to insinuate that he could not possibly build even a bungalow at his salary as an “honorable” government official, you just keep your peace and grind away as the poor farmer or impoverished fisherman that you are should.
It is, however, common knowledge that one outward manifestation of the questionable riches of the alcalde is the fruit of his “labor” from illegal drugs and, yet, you still rationalize that the guy married into wealth or he hit the lotto jackpot, and so he deserves to live in a palace.
Incidentally, the manor has a swimming pool, too. Put a face to the character at issue here: The Espinosa patriarch of Albuera town in Leyte province in the country’s Visayas region where, as the “humble” public servant supposedly answerable only to his, well, constituents, he has lorded it over what it had turned out as a family business called drug trafficking.
His partner in crime is his very own son, but we doubt if the boy would still call him ‘Papa’ after the old man ratted on him as the shabu supremo in their area.
Let’s cut to the chase.
The Duterte administration will catch more drug lords than it can handle by running to the ground other elected officials who may find it hard to explain the five cars in their garage, the boarding-school tuition and other fees of a son or a daughter in London (seems to be a favorite among our social-climbing politicos) or the five penthouses in as many condominiums around town – again at their meager monthly salaries.
It could do the job easier and faster by conducting lifestyle checks on each and every single one of these not-so-usual suspects. But Malacañang need not do it the vengeful, unlamented way that the Aquino administration did.
Remember the case of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona?
Aquino’s rah-rah boys and girls practically hounded him to death over Corona not disclosing his supposed dollar account, which they failed to find.
The very same state agencies – from the Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Commission on Audit, to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, to the Office of the Ombudsman, and the rest of the caboodle deployed by the past administration to smoke out its political enemies – could be fielded by President Duterte to ferret out the
crooks and their uncles in government.
Who knows, the Palace could get lucky and dig up more Espinosas, plus a few more Alcalas?
But, of course, it’s not luck that will carry the President and his boys through, but rather his word that he will leave behind a “clean” government whatever it takes by making crime and corruption pay, dearly.
Pass the SALN forms around now, please.