Politics amid pandemic?
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Manuelito Luna made the headlines on Thursday when he called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe Vice President Leni Robredo amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Luna said the second-highest-ranking government official in the country should be investigated for “illegal solicitations” and for supposedly competing with the national government’s efforts against the disease.
This did not sit well with the public and lawmakers alike—most of whom said that the pandemic is not the time for politics.
But objectively speaking, does the PACC have jurisdiction over the Vice President?
“It appears that the PACC has no jurisdiction over non-appointive officials like the VP,” lawyer Edre Olalia said in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
According to PACC’s website, under Executive Order No. 43, s. 2017 and its amendment Executive Order No. 73, s. 2018, the commission is tasked to “directly assist the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases primarily involving graft and corruption against all presidential appointees…thereof, and to perform such other similar duties as the President may direct.”
Likewise, PACC is also authorized to “conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries on acts and omissions of all covered presidential employees, inside and outside of the executive branch of the government, which may be violative of the Constitution, or contrary to law, rules and regulations, and/or constitute serious misconduct tantamount to betrayal of public trust.”
PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica has since clarified that the commission is not was not asking the NBI to investigate Robredo.
Belgica said that Luna’s remark was merely a “personal opinion” and that it does reflect the sentiments of the PACC.
For its part, Robredo’s camp has dubbed Luna’s call as “ridiculous,” “absurd,” and “out of touch.”
“Anyone who insists that bringing much-needed assistance to hospitals, health workers, and poor Filipinos is somehow a “competition” has absolutely no understanding of the gravity of the crisis we are all facing,” Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesman, said.
Where is this coming from?
Olalia said that the “more relevant and hard question” that needs to be addressed is, “Where is this coming from?”
“Are we not supposed to be goaded in cooperating and contributing in our own legitimate ways, abilities, and competence to help fight this pandemic, its ill-effects, and impact on the people? In a real Bayanihan, are we not supposed to welcome as many sanitized hands on deck to carry a common burden?” Olalia said.
The lawyer added that if such acts will be deemed as violations, then the government should also probe those who did the same.
“Let us not kid each other. We were not born yesterday. What is ok, permissible, and even laudable for those in power is not ok, suspect and lamentable for those out of power or outside the kulambo, much more when it comes to political enemies of those in power,” Olalia said.
“Then if they want to be credible and consistent, investigate also those who publicly donate facemasks in a military camp in violation of social distancing, those who put their names in relief packs, and even those who label the people’s money as their own,” the lawyer added.
Amid all these issues, COVID-19’s threat to the country remains.
In fact, as of April 2, the number of persons in the country who have contracted the disease has soared to 2,633, with the death toll also rising to 107.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.