UP, ROTC alumni rue PHL crisis: ‘Can’t go on like this’


A GROUP of graduates from the University of the Philippines and its Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) asked Filipinos to “vote out” in next year’s elections those government officials and other candidates running for public office whom they branded as “complicit in the plunder and rape” of the country.

The UP and its ROTC alumni led by former DICT undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. (Class 1965) denounced corruption in the government, extrajudicial killings and violations of human rights and the issue of sovereignty, and stressed the “country cannot go on like this.”

“We believe that at the rate the government is wantonly wasting our financial resources and lining the pockets of connected individuals and nationalities, we are again becoming the ‘Sick Man of Asia’ and returning to the previous years of crony capitalism and kleptocracy,” the group said.

“We are headed to become a banana republic where incompetence, corruption, and crime are tolerated in exchange for loyalty to the powers that be,” it added.

The statement was signed by at least 24 UP and ROTC alumni, who declared that the country was in “crisis.”

“We believe that our sovereignty has been compromised,” the alumni declared through Rio, noting that “Chinese interlopers” have already occupied and exploited the country’s territory, with the Duterte administration not doing enough to address this travesty, in “blatant disregard of its Constitutional mandate.”

“President Rodrigo Duterte himself called the landmark Hague ruling [a legal victory for our sovereignty] a worthless piece of paper. Worse, the President unilaterally granted fishing rights to the Chinese to the detriment of our largely poor and marginalized fishermen,” they added.

As such, Filipinos are “being chased out of our waters by the Chinese.”

Rio and the other UP-ROTC graduates, most of whom had served in the military, declared that corruption under the current administration is very pervasive, to the detriment of poor Filipinos. They cited the case of the undercapitalized startup trading firm Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which Senate probers found had links to Duterte friend and former economic adviser Michael Yang. It bagged P11 billion in negotiated contracts for pandemic-related supplies.

Rio retired with the rank of a colonel in the military and had served as undersecretary with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“We believe that graft and corruption in the Government are blatantly being committed on a massive scale. It is even more appalling that billions of taxpayers’ money has not been properly allocated to fend off the disastrous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the poor and marginalized Filipinos,” they said.

The group deemed more “despicable” Duterte’s attack on senators investigating Pharmally, instead of supporting the inquiry.

“With the recent issuance of a patently unconstitutional Executive Order prohibiting his Cabinet Secretaries and other Executive officials from attending and giving testimonies in the Senate inquiry, and ordering the Philippine National Police and other government agencies to disregard and ignore the Senate proceedings, the President is recklessly fomenting a constitutional crisis and contemptuously discarding the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution,” the alumni said.

“We stand by the Senate of the Philippines in discharging its duties as a co-equal branch of Government in its quest to ferret out the truth in this inquiry and hold accountable those who abused their authority at the expense of the Filipino people,” they added.

“As a result of the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ineptitude of the Government’s response, our economy shrank by 9.5 percent in 2020, the worst economic decline in Philippine history since 1947,” they said.

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