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ROUGH CUTS: A saga in an environment of corruption

NORMALLY we do not easily believe in allegations of corruption and of influence peddling by certain groups or individuals; not even if we were given a copy of a letter addressed to no less than the President of the Philippines duly signed by the writer with a photograph of his ID picture.

The letter wanted the President to know that the complaining writer agrees with accusations that there indeed are some Mafia-like groups controlling transactions in government offices. The letter writer also wants the President to know that he and his company have been victims of the so-called Mafia and of some people acting as cordon sanitaire to the President before citizens can approach him for a dialogue on personal or official issues.

As we said we do not easily entertain this kind of shenanigans. But since the letter was duly signed by the writer with a photograph of his identification card, we assume that he is telling the truth of his experience, and is willing to take the consequences of his action.

Moreover, we are a strong supporter to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against corruption in government. So, if there are those who have the courage to expose their own experience of corrupt practices in agencies they have dealt with, then we do our share to support them as well. In that manner we believe that we are able to help the President in his campaign by bringing to his attention the corruption happening under his watch but are successfully hidden from his knowledge through clever manipulations.

The letter-complaint is written by one Florante Cosido Banagoso, who identifies himself as the Operation Manager for Mindanao of MYKL Trading, Inc. The company, according to Banagoso in his letter, is the manufacturer of KITIKITI –X, an anti-dengue larvicide it has developed as a response to find a solution to the surging dengue epidemic in the country. The larvicide was developed sometime in 2009. It won First Prize award during the October 29, 2015 Regional Invention Contest and Exhibits (RICE) conducted by DOST in Calabarzon. When used on demonstration in several barangays in Davao City and in other regions of the country, the complaining MYKL executive claims, it was found by Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), City Health Office, and Regional Institute for Tropical Medicines (RITM) officials with High Efficacy Rate of 94.79 percent. The same solution later got the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

After getting all the positive endorsements based on the results of earlier applications of their anti-dengue product, Banagoso claimed MYKL was able to get the Department of Health, then under Secretary Enrique Ona, to issue a memorandum to all local, regional health offices, as well as local government units (LGUs) urging them to use the KITIKITI-X in their fight against dengue outbreak. The memo cited Article 12, Section 12 of the Constitution that mandates “promotion of, and preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials, and locally-produced goods, and adopt measures to help make them competitive.”

Instead, according to the letter writer in his complaint, the DOH officials who succeeded Ona after his resignation, ignored the latter’s memorandum and procured P3 billion worth of foreign anti-dengue products with efficacy not totally disclosed in the country.

Banagoso further claimed in his letter complaint that it was only after four years that his firm knew the efficacy result of 94.7 percent in dengue reduction was altered from HIGH to only Good Efficacy. That deception by some members of the DOH mafia could have been used by the new DOH officials to justify their purchase of the foreign anti-dengue medicine and ignoring the KITIKITI-X solution, the firm’s executives assumed.

Apparently the company of Banagoso got a new hope of promoting the use of their much lower cost local product when the Dujterte administration assumed office in 2016. According to the MYKL executive his group was able to have an audience with the Mindanaoan President who told them to ask for endorsement from DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, as well as from the LGU of Davao City under Mayor Sara. All these, according to Banagoso, are in addition to the other endorsements and product approval his firm already acquired earlier.

The MYKL official in his letter also said that even as they have submitted to the DOH the additional requirements asked of them by the President their anti-dengue solution continues to be ignored.
With much dismay, they again sought a second audience with the President. But according to Banagoso, their letter requests were never given the courtesy of a reply. And that is for the past 25 months already, Banagoso said.

He said that for several times they dared hand-carry their letter to Malacanang all of which were received only at Gate No. 4. But every such time also, the message they got from the Appointments Office of the President is, “We regret to inform you that the President will be unable to meet you due to his tight schedule.”

That is why, Banagoso said, he could not understand how the President could have said in his public pronouncements that “I encourage, urge and put everybody to notice that my office by the Pasig River is open 24/7 if there is a corruption complaint being lodged.”

The MYKL executive also alleged in his letter that a couple who claimed maintaining close ties with the President have approached his group and offered to serve as a link to Malacanang. The catch though is that the company has to shell out P500 thousand. They met twice, according to Banagoso. During their second meeting a lawyer bragging he was sent by a top Duterte man joined them. This time the couple demanded the half a million pesos cash outright warning them that should the company fail to give, their proposed transaction with the DOH comes to an end. From then on, Banagoso said MYKL stopped communicating with the couple.

Again, in his letter, the MYKL official said they tried exploring for the assistance of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA). But, he said, to his chagrin, the reaction of the MinDA officials was indicative that the tentacles of the couple have already extended its grip on the agency.

Well, as we said earlier, we are not ready to believe one hundred percent of the allegations of the MYKL official. But we are of the belief that all these charges of corruption and shenanigans in the present government are happening with the President’s knowing only when the smoke of its existence billows. And apparently, the smoke of the evidence of fire that is corruption is slowly engulfing the present administration. The “fire’ is fast eating up its credibility.

We do not know if this late in the 6-year term of President Duterte he will still be able to clear the air from the toxic effect of the corrupt practices of some of his appointees.

Thus, for now, we are about ready to agree with lawyer Roman Cuizon on his view that corruption could be the greatest curse that the Duterte administration is facing.

Yes, the President may be far from corrupt. We can personally attest to that. But if he fails to curb corruption perpetrated by the men and women working with him and those peddling influence, the said malpractice now shaking the foundation of his administration can pull him down from the pedestal he has made for himself as President of this nation.

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