Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has dared President Rodrigo Duterte to prove his much-avowed zero tolerance for corruption by firing Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Sandra Cam who reportedly acquired PhP500 million in unexplained wealth.
De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said Duterte should prove that there is no untouchable in his government by refusing to give undue privilege to personalities with vested interests and dubious reputation like Cam.
“I dare you, Mr. President, to fire Sandra Cam or at least order a bona fide investigation into her alleged amassing of properties worth hundreds of millions of pesos, including an island. That’s a whiff or more than a “whiff of corruption,” isn’t it?” De Lima said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 493.
“Not lifting a finger vis-a-vis Sandra Cam’s well-known shenanigans should shatter your feigned corruption-loathing image, and your ego,” she added.
In a letter filed before the Ombudsman, private citizen Lino Espinosa Lim Jr. sought an investigation into the several properties of Cam in Masbate province worth a total of PhP500 million that were allegedly registered under the names of some of her family members.
Lim, a resident of Uson, Masbate, said that the value of properties that Cam acquired were “manifestly out of proportion to her salary as a public official.”
Veering away from the issue, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace will not conduct a separate investigation against Cam, saying that it would leave it all up to the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the said hidden wealth.
De Lima likened the privileges being offered to Cam by Mr. Duterte to that of former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II who was allowed to resign in 2018 without facing charges for his crimes against the Filipino people.
“She cannot be that untouchable! Or is she more privileged than Aguirre? Whom you just consigned to oblivion without nary a case or cases filed against him,” she said.
“Why? Kailangan mo kasing protektahan si Aguirre dahil malaki ang utang na loob mo sa kanya bilang (You need to protect Aguire because he’s the) chief enforcer of your “Destroy de Lima” edict,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she is not surprised that Duterte is not lifting a finger on Cam, considering that the PCSO board member was among those individuals who worked closely with Duterte to destroy her.
“Tingnan natin kung kaya mong gawin yan sa isa sa mga inutusan mong pangunahing trumabaho, bilang alalay nila Vitaliano Aguirre at Persida Acosta, sa pagbuo ng mga kasinungalingan at pekeng akusasyon laban sa akin, kasama na yung pananakot, pag-pressure at pag-blackmail ng mga testigo o posibleng testigo,” (Let us see if you can do that to one of those you commissioned to do the job, as sidekick of Vitaliano Aguirre and Persida Acosta, to come up with lies and fake acusations against me, including threatening, pressuring, and blackmailing witnesses.), she said.
The staunchest critic of the administration’s war on drugs, De Lima was illegally detained last February 24, 2017 based on illegal drug trading charges that were based on perjured testimonies of shady personalities and convicted criminals, as well as manufactured evidence.
Last year, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 578 which sought to look into the internal squabbles among officials of the PCSO to shield it against private vested interests. (bagong senado)