Rodrigo Duterte is a very angry but irrational man.
After lawmakers at the lower house of Congress agreed to scrap his daughter’s 650 million pesos in confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) for next year’s budget, Duterte bitterly criticized the House of Representatives.
Incidentally, his eldest son sits in the lower house as one of three congressmen of Davao City.
He also has many allies in Congress, including former president and Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Arroyo.
But they could not stop the majority of the lawmakers allied with Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez when they decided to defund Sara Duterte’s CIF.
It happened after her scandalous 125 million pesos, 11-day spending binge from the funds diverted from the president’s contingency funds.
In one of his broadcasts over the religious television channel SMNI, Duterte demanded transparency and accountability of public funds allocated to the House of Representatives.
He was insinuating Congress had been “wallowing” in “pork barrel” funds hidden in some budgetary items in the annual budget.
He even threatened not to pay taxes and encouraged the public to do the same until Congress released a detailed report on how it spent the budget.
“It is not a threat,” he said on the Oct. 23 broadcast. “It is a legal demand. Let me know where my money went and how it is spent, and I will pay my taxes again this year.”
But his dramatic challenge to Congress fell on deaf ears. He was even heavily criticized on social media for issuing the threat.
The people could be simply tired of his bravado and theatrics. His social media posts got only a handful of engagements, unlike when he was president, when he used to get tens of thousands of likes, shares, and comments.
His effort to malign Congress was totally uncalled for because the lawmakers had no “secret” funds.
What were listed as discretionary funds were actually audited by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Besides, Duterte has no moral authority to demand from Congress full transparency and accountability of public funds.
When he was president, he did not give a full accounting of his confidential and intelligence funds, which rose ten-fold to 4.5 billion pesos a year from only 500 million pesos a year under his predecessor, the late President Benigno Aquino III.
If he was raising some questions on the “secret” funds of Congress, he did allow it when he was president. Why would he complain now?
If he was demanding transparency and public accountability, why was he not allowed to make public his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN)?
His SALN was guarded as a state secret because it might reveal details that he could not explain.
When he ran for president in 2016, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV exposed how Duterte allegedly amassed ill-gotten wealth as a mayor of Davao City, claiming he had billions in bank deposits.
At that time, he wanted to portray himself as a poor local official from a small provincial city in the south.
But once in office, he prohibited the Office of the Ombudsman from releasing details of his SALN, and he scandalously inflated annual discretionary funds.
Moreover, there were too many irregularities in his government, particularly the billions of pesos in deals between the Department of Health and Pharmally. The health supplies were delivered even before a contract was signed.
The Department of Education also entered into a questionable deal with a supplier for outdated laptops.
It was also during this time that the public sector debt soared to more than 11 trillion pesos, more than double from borrowings made by his predecessors, including Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, and Aquino.
It would appear Duterte was the worst leader the country ever had since the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr who was in office from 1965 to 1986.
Corruption was rampant in all levels of government and in so many agencies, some of the contracts passing through the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management, which was under the control of Duterte’s Davao City-based supporters.
How could Duterte demand transparency and accountability when he was not transparent at all when he was in power?
Duterte also tried hard to defend his daughter’s “secret” funds but failed to justify how the 125 million pesos in funds were spent in only 11 days.
The vice president had no clear explanation and her father tried to weave tales that were illogical and would rather place his daughter in hot water.
For instance, he earlier explained that the 125 million pesos was spent for the ROTC program his daughter was pushing.
But his daughter’s office — the Office of the Vice President — had no mandate to handle military training program.
Even as secretary of the Department of Education, she has no business in handling the ROTC program. It is the Commission on Higher Education that has the mandate to handle two-year military training in colleges and universities.
Sara’s explanation was also illogical. The confidential and intelligence funds should be spent on security-related activities, like gathering information and active surveillance work.
Sara said the funds were used for feeding and tree-planting programs, which are not security-related activities.
Moreover, she can call on the military and police to conduct security operations but she should not supervise or have operational control over the security services.
Sara is not even part of the chain-of-command. She should not even have a battalion-size security detail.
Her predecessor, Maria Leonor Robredo, was able to accomplish many programs even with a minimal budget and with fewer security detail.
Robredo has no expensive satellite offices and relied on donations and goodwill from businessmen and political allies.
Robredo was also highly visible in calamity areas after typhoons and earthquakes. On the other hand, Sara was nowhere to be found during calamities and disasters.
She also rarely goes to the education department and spends much of her time on mundane things.
Sara was hoping her charm offensive could save her declining approval and trust ratings after the controversial confidential and intelligence funds.
Duterte and his daughter, Sara, are not in a position to demand transparency and public accountability when they themselves are not transparent and accountable.