Benigno B.S. Aquino

Public Trust

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By Ronald Roy

In a fried chicken restaurant last week, I could not help overhearing five medical students enjoying themselves by citing personalities who are seen in light of what their names suggest. Prominent politicians embroiled in the pork barrel anomalies were then getting a beating when the name “Benigno B.S. Aquino lll” was mentioned.

The only coed in the group volunteered: “P-Noy’s name is problematic for him. ‘Benign’, from which Benigno is derived, means ‘gentle and kind’, not vengeful, and in medical terms, ‘not harmful or malignant’. [Laughter] And those initials ‘B.S.’ are so suggestively malodorous someone should advise him to do away with them.[Laughter] Finally, in fairness to him, people should stop calling him Benigno B.S. Aquino the Turd”. [Pandemonium]

A name could actually begin to bear an influence on its owner as early as one’s childhood years. For instance, a boy christened “Christopher” could take such an interest in Christopher Columbus he would likely proceed to be an authoritative historian in his professional life; but this isn’t the rule in most cases, certainly not in the case of the Chair of the Commission on Audit, although her name “Maria Gracia Pulido Tan” is, beyond question, as beautiful as it is reverential.

The image that the appellation creates is that of Mary, who is full of grace, and who is the Lord’s handmaid whose work is clean and thorough. Unfortunately, it is a misnomer, apart from her surname “Tan” being associated with the color mix of yellow and brown, as well as with some known tax cheats so-named. Mrs. Tan, a lawyer and a certified public accountant, is a constitutional official of the Republic and, as such, is removable from office only by impeachment.

A personal friend and appointee of P-Noy who loves to travel (at one time, 13 times in 12 months), she is the head of an office that is ordained by its charter, the fundamental law, to serve as the sovereign people’s watchdog institution that is tasked with the audit of all government revenues, resources and other expenditures, and generously endowed with expansive jurisdiction over all government offices and agencies, to each of which a “resident CoA Auditor” is assigned.

When she was appointed, she was aware that such would be the magnitude of her authority, and that such would be the reach of her responsibility in making sure that — with the assistance of all her Auditors acting under her supervision and in accordance with her instructions nationwide — she would be able to arrest at stage two the cancerous pork barrel disease that was already spreading very fast.

But, alas, her office has failed in this regard because, well, like other government offices, CoA has also been so coapted by the executive and legislative departments that the dreaded affliction has now terminally plunged to stage four! No, it would be difficult to hold her administratively liable for mere incompetence or gross negligence, assuming it can be done to someone removable only by impeachment.

But certainly she has breached the public trust by capriciously exercising her authority in order to protect the President and his bosom allies, while zeroing in on his political antagonists on matters of accountability over funds and other assets owned by the sovereign Filipino citizens. Indeed, she has shown excessive partiality in the choice of whom to audit and “expose” in various PDAF and DAP-related situations, in particular those high-profile functionaries known to be eyeing the presidency and vice presidency.

As of this writing, Mrs. Tan’s latest “victims” are Cong. Mickey Arroyo and Sen. Bong Bong Marcos. No, I am not acting the apologist for these legislators who, in the first place, would be their own best defenders. But I do decry her obvious persecution of her benefactor’s political enemies. I do decry the culpable debasement of her constitutional oath to discharge her office with impartiality, independence and fairness.

Under her watch, CoA has been sleeping on the job. As a result, the floodgates of graft and corruption have been opened wider than ever before in history. In a sense, it may now be stated that because of her inept leadership, P-Noy’s government has become the most corrupt ever to have come to pass in this country. And, maracas de Caracas, I hear she is expecting a reward by way of a Supreme Court seat, after Jardeleza, id est !

If this is true, then her running afoul with both the basic charter and the public trust is, without doubt, the result of some form of dictation from the Palace and the two Houses of Congress. If this is true, then the CoA Chair is guilty of the unbridled defilement of the public trust that her own public office is deemed to be.