More jueteng beneficiaries

A DAY after President Benigno Aquino III challenged retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz to prove his allegations that at least two top officials of government received jueteng payolas, the archbishop on Sunday said five more “lower echelons” of the Aquino government are receiving payoffs from operators of the illegal numbers racket.

That’s one too many for the government not to take the allegations of the bishop seriously and investigate their own before Bishop Cruz make another “pasabog” in the media.

The bishop initially reported that two of Aquino’s trusted officials in charge of overseeing security matters accepted at least P2 million in monthly payola from jueteng operators. “But the number is much more than two,” Bishop Cruz on Sunday added in an article that appeared on the Inquirer.

The prelate said another list provided him by Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng showed at least five more local officials close to the President were receiving money from jueteng operators.

Malacanang said it will wait for the bishop’s evidence to start an investigation, adding that if the bishop is proven right, there will be “no sacred cows” in government.

We’ve earlier said that there’s no need for PNoy to wait for the evidence. An investigation must be done immediately by the Palace. What more are they waiting for? Do they think the bishop is bluffing?

It is better for the government to immediately initiate an investigation before all hell breaks loose if the bishop decides to announce to the media the list of the alleged officials who benefited from the illegal numbers racket.

Based on the bishop’s statement, there are already clues that can be gleaned. He said the two officials who allegedly received P2 million in payola are close to Aquino and are in charge of overseeing security matters. That’s easy. Are they with the police? The military, maybe? Or the Interior and Local Government department?

The bishop said his group is still validating how much the officials are really getting. Note that Bishop Cruz is saying that they are validating the amount, not who the officials are. Therefore the names of the officials were already validated.

Two fiascos – the torture video in Tondo and the hostage-taking fiasco at the Luneta – should be enough already for the President to be more proactive in dealing with his people. Another scandal will leave this administration busy in the next months repairing its image, and that means leaving little time for serious governance.

It’s sad that this early the Aquino administration is already faced with big time controversies. He does not deserve this. People around him should start reviewing the basics of the President’s address during his inauguration, and from there work on something more positive.

By the way, where are the noisy supporters of President Aquino during his candidacy? It’s time to come out and defend the Palace, nay the President, not from outside forces but maybe from their own ranks.

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