Press Release
January 28, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 458:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Cronyism and the Glaring Conflict of Interest Involved in the Issues, Re: 3rd Telco Player

Last week's Senate hearing on the third telco player has exposed that cronyism and high-level corruption are alive and well in the Duterte government.

The favored company, MISLATEL, has basically nothing to its name but a franchise that has never been used to operate any telecommunication service. According to Sen. Drilon, MISLATEL's franchise is even considered ipso facto revoked for non-operation since its grant by Congress and due to the transfer of its controlling interest without the consent also of Congress.

For all intents and purposes, MISLATEL is a paper corporation with no track record whatsoever. Yet, by some magic trick, it was awarded the government contract for the much-coveted third telco player in the country. This is the company that Dennis Uy, the Davao businessman who is personally close to Duterte and Bong Go, intends to use as his vehicle to acquire the multi-billion-peso contract for the operation of a third telco player in the country.

At the same time, it just so happens that Dennis Uy is also personally connected to almost anyone in government who has power and influence. During the hearing, Sen. Trillanes has managed to draw out an admission from both Uy and Sec. Esperon that the latter uses Uy's private jet in trips to Davao. According to Sen. Trillanes's sources, the usual passengers of Uy's private jet also include other high-ranking Cabinet officials.

Esperon and some of these Cabinet big-wigs are members of the oversight committee on the third telco player contract. However, the issue of conflict of interest is completely lost on Sec. Esperon, on how the use of a private jet conflicts with his official decision-making whenever the interests of the owner of the private jet become the subject of government scrutiny, as in the case of MISLATEL.

Sen. Trillanes also managed to force Uy to admit that many of the members of the board of his holding corporation that is part of the MISLATEL consortium also donated considerable amounts to Duterte's presidential campaign. Uy himself donated P30 Million. Again, nobody among the executive officials present in the hearing recognized the glaring conflict of interest issue presented by Sen. Trillanes.

It won't take a genius to uncover what is happening here. Duterte's Davao Group, through Dennis Uy, is on a roll in cornering lucrative government contracts. It also doesn't take a genius to surmise who are the intended beneficiaries of these corrupt undertakings.

These series of machinations that involve the awarding of government contracts to paper companies with no track record other than personal connections to Duterte and his officials constitute the crime of graft and corruption, if not plunder. They are basically no different from the cronyism practised by Marcos that made his family and friends the richest people in the Philippines, and some of the richest in the world.

What is more worrisome is that under Duterte, there is even no longer any pretense to conceal the use of public authority to serve private interest. This is corruption at a new level, one that is characterized by impunity, shamelessness, and disregard for legal niceties and public opinion.

Masyado nang lantaran at garapal ang paggamit sa gobyerno ng sindikatong Davao Group sa kanilang pagpapayaman. Hindi natin pwedeng hayaang mamayagpag muli ang kawalanghiyaan ng iilan gamit ang kapangyarihan.

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