It has become a jigsaw puzzle of public interest. What are the pieces?
First, a policeman has been sacked for having been recorded on video saying the road closure was for the convoy of vice president Sara Duterte to pass by. Joy Belmonte, the mayor of Quezon City, disagrees. “An injustice was committed and must be rectified, regardless of who the VIP was. The policeman must be reinstated as he was just doing his job.”
Until today, almost twenty days later, the identity of the VIP in the convoy has not been made public. That is wrong. Security issues take the back seat because road closures are a matter of public interest. Motorists in the Philippines pay a Motor Vehicle Road User’s Tax. It is their right to know.
Transparency is the fundamental name of the game. Public officials are no monarchs who rule according to whim and fancy. We pay for every bit of their public behavior with our taxpayer’s money. A traffic jam had ensued because of the road closure. Imposing burdens on our countrymen is not excusable.
If the policeman’s name was made public, why not the identity of the public official? Are we truly a nation that is now decidedly anti-poor? Not only that. Police did one step backward by doing the ridiculous – file charges against the video uploader. Since when has video-recording a random street incident become a crime of cybersecurity? There was nothing criminal in that video. And yet the police maintains the silly paradox of keeping the identity of the VIP a secret.
Sara Duterte said she was not in that convoy. She says she was in Davao city. Is she telling the truth? She is not. Here’s why.
Teddy Casiño, the former party list congressman, posted the video of that road closure on Thursday October 5. The video was not his. This what was he said in his X (formerly Twitter) post: “Actually, yung video na iyan, kumakalat na iyan bago ko i-post sa aking Twitter” (That video had been circulating before I posted it on my Twitter account).
Casiño having said that, the possibility is distinct that the road closure did not happen on October 5, but days earlier. When?
And then the news came out on October 9 and for which Sara kept quiet because she was by then caught with bloody hands. NET 25, the broadcast station of the Iglesia ni Cristo, announced that Sara, with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, paid a courtesy visit to INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo on October 2, a Monday.
So, did Sara’s convoy truly cross Commonwealth Avenue? The INC Central Temple is located along Commonwealth Avenue. Her convoy did cross, except that the actual date became muddled in stupid squid tactics of sacking the policeman and charging the video uploader. If the police withholds the truth from the public, we do not. It was indeed Sara Duterte’s convoy that caused the traffic jam.
Accustomed to Davao city’s culture of silence, Sara was a spoiled brat in her native city. The nation has no plans to treat her the same way. In the national fishbowl, her every entitlement will be scrutinized, her secrets revealed. A closely vigilant public will reprimand her temper tantrums.
In the process of sweeping this fiasco under the rug, the capricious October 4 and 5 trip to Butuan city and Davao city instead came to light. Sara is not a lucky person on the national stage.
There are now various Apps that can track airplane flight movements. Travellers use such Apps when they wish to find the whereabouts of the aircraft they will be flying in, where it is in real time, where it is coming from, and the Estimated Time of Arrival at the airport. All that is needed is the tail number of the plane. The Philippine Air Force Gulfstream presidential jet has the tail number of BB242.
On October 4, Sara left Manila for Butuan city for a Philippine National Police event where she uttered her now horribly advised line: “those who are against confidential funds are enemies of the state.” The next day, there was another affair in Butuan city, for a World Teachers Day event. It would appear that the presidential jet BB242 left Manila at 10:18 a.m. and arrived at Butuan at 11:32 a.m., perhaps to fetch her.
At 12:36 noon, or just a little over an hour at Butuan’s Bancasi airport, the jet left Butuan and arrived Manila at 1:03 p.m. The same jet left Manila again to fly to Davao city. It then left Davao at 8:54 p.m. that night and arrived Manila at 10:17 p.m.
The jet could have proceeded to Davao city from Butuan city, but no it chose the circuitous route – return to Manila first at the expense of the government’s precious aviation fuel (current cost for jet fuel A1 P4,908.34 per barrel). Tell me if that isnt’ wasteful?
The App is not 100% accurate. In another App, it showed that the jet was in Surigao city on October 5. But that is exactly the point – Sara must cut cleanly by doing her job with honesty instead of hubris. The people are demanding transparency.
The decadence of Sara Duterte is something we must not stop watching. Bring in more popcorns, please.
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.