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HOUSE OKs BILL STRENGTHENING MONEY LAUNDERING LAW: The House of Representatives has approved a bill strengthening the anti-money laundering law to make it compliant with international standards and a more effective tool against terror financing...House Bill 4275...declares terrorism and terrorist financing, human trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, corruption, bribery, forgery and environmental crime as unlawful activities.

IMMIGRATION BUREAU EMPLOYEES WARNED VS COLLUDING WITH FIXERS: NEW Bureau of Immigration (BI) chief Ricardo David Jr. issued a stern warning to all employees that colluding with fixers will be dealt with harshly. In doing so, David stressed that "fixing" is both an administrative and criminal offense punishable with, among others, dismissal from the service and imprisonment as well. The BI chief also ordered the agency's frontline personnel to observe the strict implementation of the Anti-red Tape Act to avoid red tape and ensure that services are promptly delivered to the transacting public, by always acting with efficiency and dispatch in serving the bureau's clientele and its stakeholders.

P5m FOR IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: THE House will release an initial P5 million to finance the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the same amount used during the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada, who was subsequently deposed, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Tuesday. Belmonte, who was part of the prosecution panel during the Estrada trial, said the 11-member House prosecution panel would now need to hire private prosecutors for legal assistance, find office space, and shop for office equipment such as computers.

NATIONAL POLICE: SOME COPS VULNERABLE TO CORRUPTION: The spokesman of the Philippine National Police acknowledged that some police officers are vulnerable to opportunities for corruption, which is why the PNP is striving to block these opportunities from taking place. ...Police Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said the police organization has put in place all necessary safeguards to eliminate every possible situation or opportunity for corruption in the police service. "In almost every aspect of police operation and function, anti-corruption safeguards have been installed to satisfy the requirements of transparency and public accountability according to the government's anti-corruption master plan," he said... "We do not intend to challenge public opinion as against our own quantifiable record of fighting corruption. We can only offer our best assurance of organizational integrity in the best interest of proper public service," he said. The PNP spokesman issued the statement after a Pulse Asia perception survey revealed that the national police force is considered the 2nd most corrupt government agency, behind the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

IMMIGRATON TO ENFORCE PROVISIONS OF ANTI-RED TAPE LAW: The long queues of passengers at the immigration counters in the international ports will soon be a thing of the past as the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will start implementing the provisions of the anti-red tape law. BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. Tuesday said he directed the agency's division and section chiefs, including the airport operations division, to strictly enforce the provisions of the law by requiring their staff to always act with efficiency and dispatch in serving the bureau's clientele and its stakeholders. Based on best practices, an immigration officer should process the travel documents of an arriving and departing international passengers for a maximum of three minutes provided that the documents are all authentic.

PRICEY LAW FIRM TAPPED FOR IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The 11-member House prosecution team has tapped the services of a law firm in its preparation for the Senate impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez scheduled in the first week of May. Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chair of the House committee on justice, identified the law firm as Belo Gozon Elma Parel Asuncion & Lucila Law Offices of which he was a junior partner from 1999 to 2004. "We will definitely be needing help from a lot of lawyers. There will be tons of work in the coming weeks ahead of the trial," he said.

LIGOTS TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE: Erlinda admitted that Erlinda Ligot and Erlinda Yambao were one and the same person, but declined to comment on documents that showed one had sold a California property to the other. She also went as far as to identify her traveling companions in her frequent travels abroad, including "Dara" (reportedly the late Gen. Angelo Reyes widow Teresita), Mara Enrile and Beverly Yan. Enrile and Yan were also generals' wives. Erlinda said that Dara sometimes paid her air fare, but remembered paying her own way at least four times. "If we shopped, we only bought Giordano," she volunteered, referring to their jaunts to Hong Kong.

SOLCOM CHIEF: SURVEY "UNFAIR" >>> The chief of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command based in Camp Nakar here called "unfair" the Pulse Asia survey whose results pointed to the military as the most corrupt government agency... Detabali argued that the perception of the public during and after the congressional hearings that focused on alleged multi-million peso corrupt practices of "few" past top military officials, "have not yet been verified in court."

AQUINO TAKES HARD LINE ON ACCUSED CUSTOMS WORKERS: President Aquino ordered Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez to place on preventive suspension Customs employees named as respondents in smuggling and other criminal complaints. The presidential directive was to ensure that employees tagged in technical smuggling would not influence the outcome of the investigation and to correct perceptions that BOC is not serious in the anti-smuggling campaign. Aquino wants all customs personnel who played a role in the release of smuggled products identified, investigated and, if evidence warrants, charged criminally and administratively.

FIFTH MILITARY CORRUPTION WITNESS SURFACES: Another witness to the conversion of military funds surfaced today as the Senate resumed its investigation on the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Retired Lt. Col. Romeo Mateo, former budget officer of the AFP's Civil Military Operations, said he surfaced to prove that all of the testimonies of whistleblower George Rabusa were true...The retired military officer, like the previous witnesses, asked for immunity from all charges and security in exchange of his affidavit. Mateo admitted that he conspired with other budget officers, including Rabusa, in converting military funds. He said that on a monthly basis, they convert P11.1 million. He added that he and other officers, including the chief accountant at the AFP's general headquarters, commanding officer of the finance center, the state auditor assigned in AFP, and the commanding officer of the civil military operations, received monthly incentives taken from the converted fund. Mateo added that since he started working as budget officer in 1989, conversion of military funds was already being practiced. There are now five witnesses to the military corruption, including Rabusa, Lt. Col. Sonny Lim, former state auditor Heidi Mendoza and former civilian budget officer Perla Valerio.

SENATORS TO LIGOTS: NO MORE "RIGHT AGAINST SELFINCRIMINATION" >>> The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee warned former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, against "pointlessly" invoking their rights against self incrimination in today's hearing. Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III expressed dismay on the Ligots' adamant position to remain mum on the source of their questionable accumulation of wealth. For his part, Senator Franklin Drilon also warned the Ligots for dragging the hearing, saying, "The more you evade our question, the deeper you sink in the quagmire of shame in the eyes of our people."

PALACE: REFORMS WILL CHANGE PUBLIC PERCEPTION ON GOVERNMENT "CORRUPTION" >>> Malacañang on Monday expressed optimism that it would be able to change the public's perception on government agencies regarding corruption as it continues to show the reforms it intends to do. In an interview with reporters, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office head Ricky Carandang said it is only normal for Filipino people to be "cynical" when it comes to the issue of corruption in the government..."We hope that as we show more results, we will be able to change the public's mind," he told reporters...Carandang said the public should also look into the reforms being undertaken by the military leadership to correct the system. "We understand why the public would think that, because it was in the headlines. But we do not want to contend the entire AFP because of a few very bad eggs there," he said.

CUSTOMS CHIEF ORDERS AUDIT OF IMPORTER'S SHIPMENTS: Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez ordered a review of the importations made by Berina Agri-Business after it was tagged as the consignee of smuggled rice and sugar from Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Alvarez said 20 containers of glutinous rice and 12 containers of white sugar worth P42 million were misdeclared as office supplies and exercise equipment to avoid higher payment of duties and taxes.

LTO CHIEF'S AIDE ALSO SERVING AS INTERNAL AUDIT CHIEF SACKED OVER STRADCOM SCANDAL: Transportation Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus has suspended for 90 days Menelia Mortel, an official of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), while she awaits charges in connection with the failed takeover of Stradcom Corp. by a group of businessmen last December. The suspension meted on Mortel, head executive assistant of LTO chief Virginia Torres, was recommended by the Department of Justice which investigated the Dec. 9, 2010 takeover by the group of Bonifacio Sumbilla and Aderito Yujuico. Mortel is also the chief of the LTO's Internal Audit Division.

SURVEY: HEIDI MENDOZA MOST CREDIBLE OF MILITARY PROBE PERSONALITIES >>> The survey showed that 22% of Filipinos believe former state auditor Heidi Mendoza as the most credible among 6 personalities involved in the probe, followed by former budget officer Rabusa with 19%. Less than one in ten Filipinos considers the following former military officials as being the more credible personality in the issue of corruption in the AFP former AFP Comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Carlos Garcia (5%), former AFP Comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot (2%), former AFP Chief of Staff Ret. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva (2%) and former AFP Chief of Staff Ret. Gen. Roy Cimatu (1%).

SURVEY: ARMED FORCES SEEN AS MOST CORRUPT AGENCY>>> Filipinos consider the Armed forces of the Philippines as the most corrupt government agency, pollster Pulse Asia reported today...48.9 percent of Filipinos believe that graft and corruption proliferated in the military. The survey was conducted at the height of the controversies being faced by the AFP arising from the allegations of former military budget officer George Rabusa and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza. Sixty percent of Filipinos prefer that congressional hearings on alleged corruption in the military must continue. Following the AFP as the most corrupt agency were the Philippine National Police (PNP) with 26.6 percent and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) at 18.2 percent.

MERCI: SURVEY A PRODUCT OF MISINFORMED PUBLIC >>> Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez yesterday called the results of the recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey a product of a "misinformed, if not deceived national audience."..."The 52 percent have been influenced by commentaries and opinions given by people who wield power thru their election or thru their pen, broadcast and visual communication," Gutierrez's spokesperson told The STAR. "They have peddled the public with untruths by their impressions and conclusions dished out without the benefit of research and first hand knowledge of the issues affecting the Ombudsman"...

SOLDIERS DOWNPLAY SURVEY SHOWING MILITARY AS MOST CORRUPT: Military officials in Davao City downplayed the recent survey showing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as being the most corrupt agency based on the perception of the Filipino people... Major General Arthur Tabaquero, chief of the AFP's Eastern Mindanao Command, said the "AFP is a very professional organization." "That is an unkind comment to the members who risk their lives protecting the Filipino people. Perception must not be viewed on the current Senate inquiry," Tabaquero said. Brigadier General Benito de Leon, who was formerly assigned in Southern Mindanao, said the survey result was obviously influenced by the publicity and attention given to the ongoing congressional hearings. Colonel Leopoldo Galon, 5th Civil Relations Group chief, said such an impression is not easy to erase, but he assured the public that the problem was already addressed after generals Garcia and Ligot were exposed in 2004.

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"NO PORK DANGLED IN IMPEACHMENT VOTE": Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. denied yesterday reports that those who voted for impeaching Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez last Monday were promised additional pork barrel funds. "That's not true, nothing like that," he told reporters. Under the Aquino administration and his stewardship of the House, Belmonte said members of the chamber, whether pro- or anti-administration, receive their share of pork barrel funds at the same time. "We are all in the same boat here," he said. He said all House members have received their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations for the second half of 2010. "For the first quarter of 2011, they (Malacañang) are in the process of releasing them," he added.

ONE MORE SENATE VOTE AGAINST GUTIERREZ?: Sen. Panfilo Lacson may just provide the Aquino administration one more vote to convict Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Sunday. "He will be a factor in the impeachment trial because we now have 23. So it will be easier to raise 16 votes to impeach because he's perceived to be close to the administration," Santiago said in an interview. "Of course, we will not prejudge him because we are required to be politically neutral."

JUSTICE DEPT ORDERS PROBE INTO ARMED FORCES CORRUPTION: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered a fact-finding investigation into the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines that was exposed during the congressional inquiry into the plunder case against former military comptroller retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia. De Lima said she is creating a special team that would dig deeper into the controversy and gather more evidence to pinpoint which former generals or officials could be held liable for amassing public funds while still in the service. She said the panel, which would be formally created on Monday, would start collating all pieces of evidence, information and reports from both houses of Congress and also from the AFP ahead of a preliminary investigation...

SENATOR'S RETURN GOOD NEWS FOR COLLEAGUES, BAD FOR OMBUDMAN: News of Sen. Panfilo Lacson's homecoming on Saturday was welcomed by his fellow senators, who said his return would be crucial in the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the Senate in May. Lacson will formally rejoin his colleagues when Congress resumes sessions on May 9, just in time for the impeachment trial, according to his media relations officer Gerry de Belen.

BUSINESS LEADERS: IMPEACHMENT CASE IS CONFIDENCE BUILDER >>> The impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will boost investor confidence in the Philippines, the Makati Business Club said over the weekend, noting that the democratic system in the Philippines is truly working. "The impeachment cases of the Ombudsman will eventually bring back the confidence of businessmen in the country...and the justice system," said Ramon del Rosario, chairman of the group which consists of the country's business leaders. He said the Ombudsman will have her chance to defend herself at the Senate and the people will no longer be groping in the dark..."All we ask is that the honorable members of the Senate conduct the impeachment trial without undue delay, and that the greater interest of the Filipino people and the restoration of their trust in our justice system remain uppermost in the minds of our senators as they consider the merits of the cases against the Ombudsman," he continued. Meanwhile, Donald Dee, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the group will eagerly follow the impeachment proceedings of Gutierrez.

MERCI SPOKESMAN: NOTHING WRONG WITH GLORIA VISIT >>> The spokesman of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez does not see anything wrong with the alleged visit of former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Arroyo with Gutierrez last Tuesday. Atty. Salvador Panelo, spokesperson of Gutierrez, said he has no personal knowledge of Arroyo's visit at Gutierrez's house hours after the latter was impeached by the House of Representatives. He added he sees nothing wrong with the visit especially since the Ombudsman is under siege...Panelo said he does not expect Arroyo's visit to affect Gutierrez's impeachment trial in the Senate. He said accusations that the Ombudsman protected Arroyo from graft and plunder cases are not true. "In fact, those perceived close to Arroyo like [former elections chief] Benjamin Abalos and Romulo Neri are facing cases. It is also not true that former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was not investigated. He was investigated but no evidence was found linking him to the NBN-ZTE scandal," he said.

MAP INSIGHTS >>> BUILDING A CULTURE OF INTEGRITY: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not new to most Filipino companies. Helping out comes naturally to most of us and gives us a warm, happy feeling. Given the chance, we would like to reach out to people who are in need, especially when we have the time and the extra resources to do so...CSR is the combination of a profit motive combined with enlightened self-interest that creates trust with ones stakeholders...findings of the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer: When a company is distrusted, 57% will believe negative information about it after hearing this one or two times, while 15% will believe positive information after hearing this once or twice. The reverse is true for companies that are trusted, with 51% believing positive information they hear about the company after hearing this once or twice, and just 25% believing negative information they hear about it...trust-building requires that companies live up to the highest ideals of transparency and professionalism...trusted companies offer high-quality services; have transparent and honest business practices; treat their employees well; and are good corporate citizens.

IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT BACKED: HALF OF Filipinos, echoing the administration's good governance campaign, have backed moves to oust Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez, who has been impeached early this week by the House of Representatives, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. The SWS survey, conducted from March 4 to 7 and made exclusive to BusinessWorld, found 52% of respondents agreeing with the Supreme Court (SC) decision that allowed efforts of the House of Representatives to oust Ms. Gutierrez from office...Sixty-eight percent of the respondents in Metro Manila and 53% in Balance Luzon agreed with the SC decision, while 47% in Visayas and 42% in Mindanao also threw in their support to the high court ruling...83% of Filipinos agreed that Mr. Garcia should be charged with plunder, while only 15% disagreed...the net satisfaction rating of Ms. Gutierrez was at -9, unchanged from a similar rating last September during the initial stages of the impeachment proceedings. Ms. Gutierrez' trust rating was lowest at -22 in June 2009. It was at its highest in June 2006 at +4. Only 15% of respondents disagreed, 29% were undecided, while 4% refused to answer.

EX-AFP CHIEF: MILITARY FUND DIVERSIONS CONSIDERED "REGULAR" TRANSACTIONS >>> Some Philippine military funds were diverted for other purposes because these transactions were reportedly presumed to be "regular" and part of standard operating procedure. As a result, former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budget officer George Rabusa - now a witness in a Senate corruption hearing - was given room to divert discretionary funds. At a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing Thursday, former AFP chief of staff Diomedio Villanueva Jr. said he did not know where Rabusa got money to rent a safe house in upscale Acropolis subdivision in Quezon City, adding it was not a concern. "It's the job of J6 [Office of the AFP Comptroller] to look for a source of funds," he explained. Discretionary funds came from money hidden as Intelligence Service of the AFP (Isafp) allotments. Spending on intelligence is not subject to audit.

SENATE HOLDS LIGOTS IN CONTEMPT, ARRESTS EX-GENERAL LIGOT: For snubbing the inquiry into military corruption without justifiable reason, ex-military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife Erlinda have been cited in contempt by the Senate. The former general was immediately arrested Thursday night in a military housing village in Taguig City and is now in Senate custody. However, the arrest and detention order for Erlinda has been suspended for "humanitarian reasons" because of her health, said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

HOUSE SPEAKER SPEAKS: ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY KEY TO GOOD GOVERNANCE: Accountability and transparency are keys to good governance, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Belmonte said corruption continues to gnaw at institutions and hamper reform efforts. The Speaker spoke at the launching yesterday of the Temasek Foundation: Policy, Governance and Capacity Building Program for Philippine Leaders and Educators (PGCB Program) at the Ateneo de Manila University. "Corruption in government transactions has remained high. The Philippines, based on UN estimates, is the fourth most corrupt among 16 Southeast Asian countries," Belmonte said. The situation, he said, indicates "our massive failure in the past in at least two governance indicators in the areas of accountability and transparency."

SOLICTOR GENERAL OFFICE ASKS ASKS SANDIGANBAYAN JUSTICE TO INHIBIT FROM GARCIA CASE: The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) yesterday filed a motion asking Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval to inhibit himself from the plunder case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia because of conflict of interest. In the 14-page motion, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz and seven other government lawyers said Sandoval's son, lawyer Rex Reynaldo Sandoval, is working at the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) with rank of Assistant Special Prosecutor 1. Cadiz said Sandoval's integrity as a magistrate will be questioned for having first-degree consanguinity with a lawyer of the OSP. The OSG represents the government in civil and criminal cases on appeal. The OSP, on the other hand, represents the people in cases filed with the Sandiganbayan. Cadiz said the decision to ask the elder Sandoval to inhibit himself from the case was not reached easily but was considered necessary because the decision on Garcia's case will have an historical impact on the country.

EX-ASSISTANT TO MILITARY BUDGET OFFICER CLAIMS GETTING P500k MONTHLY: A military budget officer said more than a decade ago, he received a car and between P300,000 and P500,000 monthly from retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, the whistle-blower on alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)...Rabusa said Donato was the one who assisted him in converting military funds for the personal use of ranking military officials...Donato claimed that the money was allegedly used for the military comptroller's office supplies and for additional allowances for AFP personnel...On Monday, Rabusa's claims were backed by fellow retired military budget officer Perla Valerio, who claimed she was the one who prepared the documents for the release of the funds handed over to the generals. On Thursday, Valerio confirmed that she has been seeing Donato getting usually around P500,000 from Rabusa...

AQUINO TO FILIPINOS: SUPPORT ANTI-CORRUPTION EFFORTS >>> President Benigno Simeon Aquino III called on Filipinos to support the government's anti-corruption efforts, including the move to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. In a speech before the Philippine Economic Briefing here, Aquino said: "As the Senate prepares to try the Ombudsman, I urge you to support this and other efforts to fight corruption." "Together, we can eliminate the dark elements that hinder us from the true and lasting change that we have long hoped for. Together, we can end the systematized corruption that has prevented our country from fulfilling its vast potential,"...Aquino said the impeachment of Gutierrez is part of the government's efforts to curb corruption in the country. "We promised to put an end to the corruption that had been so prevalent in the years leading up to last year's election...a government that does its job; a government that is not allergic to the word overtime;" a government that puts the interests of the Filipino people on the forefront of every single project,"... "We are delivering on these promises, and this has redounded to significant improvements in many areas of concern, including our economy," he added.

DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE ON CORRUPTION: "We cannot deny at this point. The amounts involved are staggering."

LATE MAY IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WITH NO GAG RULE: The Senate yesterday approved the rules that would govern the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust and at the same time thumbed down the proposal of Sen. Miriam Santiago to disallow senator-judges from being interviewed...Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, who will be the presiding judge, said senator-judges can accept interviews during recess, breaks and before and after session. "They should not talk about the merits of the case so that they will not be accused of prejudging the case," said Enrile...Minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano said there is no reason for every senator not to be interviewed because the public has the right to know what is happening during the trial...While the Impeachment Tribunal will convene on May 9, Enrile said "the actual trial will probably take a little bit longer to convene because we will give the respondent to answer and there will be a reply so I suppose we will start latter part of May."

TWO MORE LGUs BARE OUT-OF-TOWN TRIPS: Mandaluyong City government...will be holding a three-day workshop-seminar on governance for 180 officials of its 27 barangays in Baguio City. The San Juan City government, on the other hand, brought 200 officials to Subic Bay from February 23 to 25 for the same purpose.

OMBUDSMAN APPEALS TO SUPREME COURT TO OVERTURN SANDIGANBAYAN'S CHINGKOE PLUNDER RAP RULING: The Supreme Court should nullify a Sandiganbayan ruling that dismissed the P74-million plunder case filed against former Department of Finance officials and executives of a textile company led by Faustino Chingkoe as they were supposedly involved in tax credit fraud, the Office of the Ombudsman said Wednesday. The Sandiganbayan resolution, issued by its First Division on March 9, 2011, claimed the Ombudsman's special prosecutors failed to establish its argument that those who were accused received money from the private respondents. Thus, no probable cause may be attributed against them. The Chingkoe couple, Faustino and his wife Gloria, conspired with public officials in the use of government-issued tax credit certificates assigned to family-owned Filstar Textile Industrial Corp. to settle its obligations, according to the Ombudsman's Office. But the certificates were transferred to the oil firms Petron Corp. and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. to pay for their fuel excise tax, the Ombudsmans Office also claimed.

SENATE OKs RULES ON IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The Senate approved on Wednesday the rules for the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in May. The amended rules include a provision specifying that senators must adhere to the principle of "political neutrality, defined as the "exercise of public official duty without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation." Senators, witnesses, members of the prosecution and defense panels, and the accused are also expected to refrain from talking in public about the merits of the case or grant interviews while the trial is ongoing.

CSO PANEL FORMED TO ADVISE PUBLIC WORKS DEPT: Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson ordered department officials and employees to abide by President Aquino's policy of transparency and good governance. "No more under the table deals," he said after forming a panel that will provide policy directions on Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) partnership.

OMBUDSMAN FAVORS GAG ORDER AT SENATE TRIAL FOR "FAIRNESS": Even as she continued to hit back at those pushing for her ouster, impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Wednesday voiced full support for a proposed gag order on senator-judges during her impeachment trial. Gutierrez said the move may help ensure fairness in the trial, adding that her critics had been trying to secure her conviction through a trial by publicity.

WHY WOMAN LEGISLATOR VOTED TO IMPEACH WOMAN OMBUDSMAN: Very few top positions in the Philippine government are held by women. Each key post is seen as a beacon to the educated women who continue to believe that their sex is not a hindrance to holding responsible positions that can later be used to advance women's interests. Yet, Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Luz Ilagan has endorsed the impeachment complaint filed by the militant coalition Bagong Alyansang Makabayan against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez by voting yes to House Resolution 1089 transmitting the dreaded Articles of Impeachment to the Philippine Senate...According to Ilagan, an impeachment complaint against the Ombudsman, the first under the Aquino administration, will call attention to the need to resolve rising corruption and the "culture of impunity" in the Philippine bureaucracy..."Graft and corruption affect the women of this country in many ways than we could imagine," insisted Ilagan. "In a country shunned by investors due to massive corruption, women are the most victimized by unemployment," she explained. "Some 37 percent of Filipino women are unemployed, while 7.1 million are underemployed," she added. "The women who struggle against poverty and the women who are fighting graft and corruption in this country take neither comfort nor consolation that the person whom the (House) Committee on Justice had indicted to have grossly failed in her duties as Ombudsman is a woman," lamented Ilagan..."(Ombudsman Gutierrez) has chosen to become a traitor to the people, rather than be loyal to her commitment to the people, especially the poor," Ilagan explained...She concluded, "Gutierrez held herself up as a schemer and manipulator of the highest order, a schemer and manipulator who place the interest of her patrons and friends above the interests of the country and the public."

NEW MILITARY CHIEF: No more 'pasalubongs, pabaon' in AFP >>> Philippine military chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. assured a panel of the bicameral Commission on Appointments on Wednesday that there are no more "pabaons" and "pasalubongs" (exit and welcome gifts) in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Oban, who assumed the top AFP post on March 7, made the assurance when he was asked by Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez if he expects to receive a "pabaon" come his retirement on Dec. 13 this year.

OMBUDSMAN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL MAY TAKE SIX MONTHS: House of Representatives Justice committee chairman Niel Tupas Jr. will lead several lawmakers in transmitting the approved articles of impeachment against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez before the Senate...This will be a formal turnover following the historic voting in the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning. This early, Tupas sees the process before the Senate to take 6 months to finish.

MERCI RESIGN SIGNATURE DRIVE LAUNCHED: Former Scout Ranger chief retired Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim has launched a signature campaign to force Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to resign from her position. Lim...said a number of people have already signed in the campaign drive. The campaign was launched a day after the House impeached Gutierrez for alleged wrongdoings... "We urge her to resign to spare the country from another long and divisive experience. Our signature campaign is ongoing for her resignation," he added. ...Lim could not say how many signatures they have gained so far. "We are now starting to go around for those who want to support and sign for this movement," he said, adding that all, including soldiers, are free to sign. "All are welcome to sign, may they be soldiers or not," said Lim. "Our target is gather one million signatures.

MERCI URGED TO TAKE LEAVE, FOCUS ON TRIAL >>> The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan reiterated Wednesday calls for Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to take a leave of absence as she goes on trial in the Senate for betrayal of public trust. "Ombudsman Gutierrez faces six articles of impeachment which will be tried four days a week. The almost daily hearings alone should require the undivided attention of the Ombudsman. She also faces several serious charges. She will also be asked to appear before the Senate. It would be best if she takes a leave of absence to focus on the trial," said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr, who is also an impeachment complainant.

MERCI: FLIMSY DECISION >>> Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez Tuesday described as "lamentable" and "flimsy" the decision of the House of Representatives to impeach her. Gutierrez issued this comment hours after the Lower House impeached her on vote of 212-47-4. "From the start, I received no fair treatment from the House Judiciary Committee, more so from its chair, Iloilo Congressman Niel Tupas Jr. whose father is facing graft charges filed by my office with the Sandiganbayan. He, himself, is being investigated for some allegations of corruption," Gutierrez said in a press conference.

PCGG TO ASK EX-CHAIRMAN TO LIQUIDATE TRAVEL FUNDS: The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has said it will compel its former chairman, Camilo Sabio, to liquidate the multimillion travel expenses and cash advances during his term in office. PCGG chairman Andres Bautista said the commission is not powerless to run after Sabio even if the Truth Commission, which is tasked is to investigate and prosecute graft and corruption charges made during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is still legally hampered to exercise its mandate. Bautista said that based on the internal audit of the new PCGG, the Sabio-led commission has disbursed $2.3 million for travel from January 31, 2004 to September 30, 2010. Separate $1.5 million and $166,800 disbursements were used by the Office of the Solicitor General and executives of the Philippine National Bank, respectively, for travel expenses on the same time frame. "We will issue memoranda to each concerned official and oblige them to submit accomplishment and liquidation reports. Failing to do so will mean that they may face administrative, criminal or civil liabilities," Bautista said.

PH NAMED AMONG MAJOR DRUG, MONEY-LAUNDERING COUNTRIES: The Philippines has been identified by the US Department of State as one of the 63 "major drug money-laundering countries" in the world. In its 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the State Departments Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said financial institutions in these countries "engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking."...According to the report, the Philippines "continues to face challenges in the areas of drug production, drug trafficking and internal drug consumption." It said the Manila government "takes drug trafficking and drug abuse seriously, and has made substantial efforts to address these problems." However, it pointed out that "lack of law enforcement resources, the slow pace of judicial and investigative reforms and lack of law enforcement inter-agency cooperation continue to hamper government efforts to investigate and prosecute higher echelons of drug trafficking organizations operating in the Philippines."...Last year, "lack of judicial reforms and slow progress in drug cases continued a trend of very low conviction rates for drug cases" here. Citing the Dangerous Drugs Board, the State Department reported that "8 percent of drug cases are dismissed before going trial, 7 percent result in conviction, 8 percent result in acquittal, while 76 percent remain unresolved." "Drug cases are often dismissed due to technicalities, such as irregularity or illegality of arrest, non-appearance of witnesses, inconsistent testimonies of witnesses, mishandling of evidence, and unreliable police laboratories," it said.

COMPANIES CAN BENEFIT FROM EXPERIENCE IN CORRUPT COUNTRIES: Global companies in India that are watching with concern as multiple scams rock the country, may finally have a reason to smile. Corruption sometimes has a silver lining, new research suggests. Companies that succeed in a country with rampant corruption are more likely to also succeed in other corrupt markets against competitors wary of entering such markets, according to research published in the latest edition of the Journal of Management Studies. The research the most detailed review of findings on government-business interactions by Roberto Martin M Galang from the Philippines, asserts that corruption is a major problem for the market at a macroscopic level. But individual companies can benefit from the effects of corruption, Galangs research concludes.

HOUSE PROSECUTORS NEED ONLY ONE GUILTY CONVICTION TO OUST OMBUDSMAN: One conviction and she's out. Congressmen seeking to oust Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez need not convince senators that she is guilty of all charges when she officially goes on trial less than two months from now for alleged betrayal of public trust. Senators have drafted the "Rules of Procedures on Impeachment Trials," which include the provision unseating an impeached official should he or she be found guilty of only one of the articles of impeachment. "If the person impeached in such articles of impeachment shall be convicted upon any of said articles by the votes of two-thirds of all the members, the Senate shall proceed to pronounce judgment of conviction," according to rule no. XXI, which also applied in the 2000 impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada.

OMBUDSMAN WILL CONTINUE WORKING DESPITE IMPEACHMENT: Merceditas Gutierrez will continue discharging her duties as Ombudsman despite the overwhelming vote by the House of Representatives to impeach her. "There is no law requiring me to go on leave. I will continue working. This (impeachment) will not be a hindrance in discharging my duties," Gutierrez told reporters at a press conference Tuesday at the Office of the Ombudsman. "It's unfortunate that I have to go through this process," she added.

MERCI: MY CONSCIENCE IS CLEAR >>> Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez yesterday declared she is prepared to face the Senate as an impeachment court. "My conscience is clear. I have done nothing wrong," Gutierrez said. Gutierrez made the declaration hours after the House of Representatives voted to transmit the articles of her impeachment to the Senate. "What transpired at the House of Representatives is lamentable but expected," Gutierrez said..."I have done my job as the countrys Ombudsman to the best of my knowledge and capability, and I will continue to do so with all those who continue to support me in my quest for truth and justice. In God's grace and time, and with intrepid, impartial and independent Senate, I know we will in the end prevail," Gutierrez said.

SENATE PREPARES FOR IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The Senate is rushing preparations for the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and is expected to approve its rules of procedure today, the last session day before the month-long Lenten break...Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said a number of amendments have been introduced to the rules, derived from the same ones used in the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada in 2000-2001. Estrada's impeachment trial was the first in the country's history. Sotto said the prosecution in the impeachment trial of Gutierrez would have to prove guilt in only one article of impeachment to remove her from office, based on the proposed rules of the Senate. In order to be acquitted, Sotto said that Gutierrez would have to secure acquittal on all six articles of impeachment.

 
 
HOUSE VOTES TO IMPEACH OMBUDSMAN >>>
212 - 46
After a marathon debate, the House of Representatives Monday night impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, clearing the way for her trial by the Senate for betrayal of public trust.

By a vote of 210-47, the chamber sealed the impeachment case against Gutierrez after nearly eight hours of debate ending at around midnight. Four lawmakers abstained.

A total of 212 lawmakers of the 284-member House were in attendance, squelching reports that there would be no quorum due to purported lobbying by the influential Christian sect Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and other groups on behalf of the Ombudsman.

Ninety-five votes, or one-third of the House members, were required to impeach Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust. (Note: Tally was originally reported as 210 - 47, then corrected. There were 4 abstentions).

MERCI ON OUSTER MOVE: DARK POLITICS RULES >>> Beleaguered Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez cried foul, saying "dark politics ruled the day" when the House of Representatives voted 212-46 for her impeachment early Tuesday. Gutierrez insisted on her innocence against the allegations where the Articles of Impeachment were based, namely, her inactions in the P728 million fertilizer fund scam, the Euro general case, the 2004 Mega Pacific deal, the NBN-ZTE deal, and the Philip Pestano case. It also cited the low conviction rate during her term in office. "I have done nothing wrong. I am prepared to face the senate. My conscience is clear," she said in a press briefing few hours after the House ruled for her ouster in office.

EX-ZAMBALES MAYOR GETS 40 YEAR SENTENCE FOR 1996 GRAFT: A former municipal mayor in Zambales province was meted with 40 years imprisonment after being found guilty of malversation of public funds that stemmed from ghost projects during his term in office. The Sandiganbayan found former Castillejos town mayor Teofilo Pantaleon Jr. guilty of two counts of malversation acts through falsification of public documents. Aside from reclusion perpetua, the graft court also meted Pantaleon with perpetual disqualification from holding public office and a total fine of P201,706. The court also ordered him to return the government funds that he misused. Court records revealed that Pataleon committed corrupt act when he forged the documents bearing an amount of P201,706 in favor of La Paz Construction for the repairs of the drainage system in his town's public market. The fictitious contract was discovered in December 1996.

FERTILIZER SCAM PRODUCES CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Some solons benefited from the fertilizer scam...one of the grounds that Congress cited in pushing for the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez...The fertilizer scam involved money for agricultural projectsmillions that were allegedly diverted to the campaign kitty of administration candidates in 2004...there are over 100 lawmakers who have also been listed as recipients of P3 million to P5 million worth of fertilizer funds...If viewed in black and white, cases of conflict of interest such as these warrant the lawmakers inhibition from voting on the impeachment case. But politics is not black and white, and inhibiting from a political process could send mixed signals to the public, analysts we interviewed said.

ARMM: SERIOUS REPORTS OF POLICE CORRUPTION OVER FIREARMS AND RECRUITMENT MADE AND DENIED >>> Police recruits in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are being forced to pay up to PhP 20,000 (USD 465) before being issued their own firearms, according to reliable sources here. It is also claimed that when some local police officers complained last year to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila about the alleged illegal profiteering, the regional department was simply ordered to investigate itself. The subsequent report back to Camp Crame in Quezon City was said to find the local force corruption-free.

CONGRESSWOMAN'S BRITHDAY BECOMES "GRANDEST CELEBRATION EVER HELD IN SAMAR'S HISTORY": Congresswoman Milagrosa T. Tan of the 2nd District of Samar made another big hit as she turned 53 years old last February 25. While the rest of the country were commemorating the historic 25th EDSA celebration, where a bloodless People Power toppled a corrupt dictator, the Samarnons were then witnessing one of the most lavish birthday celebrations which compelled them to ask why a government official could throw such amid poverty among her constituents. Tan treated her supporters and allies to a two-day partying at different venues to mark her birthday. Lodging houses and hotels in the city were exclusively reserved for her supporters. Buses, vans and pump boats were privately hired to transport people coming from the different barangays which Tan's staff and party coordinators hauled just for the occasion..."This is the grandest celebration ever held in Samar's history. It's ironic na habang nakikita nating naghihirap ang taumbayan at naghahanap ng mga pangkabuhayan at totoong serbisyo, sila ay nagpapakasasa sa nakakasilaw na karangyaan sa pamamagitan ng pera ng bayan (that while we see the people living in poverty and looking for source of living and genuine service, they see extravagance of officials through the money of the people)," a town mayor commented while closely watching how ordinary citizens were drawn to queue up from morning to midnight just to get free packed lunches composed of rice and a small cut of fried chicken.

VISAYAS ASSISTANT OMBUDSMAN DENIES CHARGE THAT SALN REPORT WAS NOT FILED: A senior official of the Office of the Ombudsman defended herself Wednesday against a report that identified her as among those government officials whose copies of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) are "nowhere to be found." Surprised of the news, Assistant Ombudsman for Visayas Virginia Santiago said: "I am filing my SALN every year. In fact it's here, if you want a copy, I can give it to you." A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report entitled "How wealthy is Merci?" said copies of the SALN of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and three senior officials, including Santiago's, "are simply nowhere to be found in the state agencies that are supposed to receive the documents."...Santiago explained that an earlier memorandum stating that a copy of their SALN should be filed in the Office of the President or the CSC was never implemented. She did not elaborate the memorandum. "I called the central office of the Ombudsman and asked them why my forms were not submitted. It was because the earlier memorandum was not implemented. Copies of our forms were not forwarded to those mentioned offices," Santiago said. "PCIJ should have contacted us personally and asked us about our SALN records. I am not hiding anything. I have my copies here," she added.

DEALS, PORK BEHIND IMPEACH VOTE: The number of votes originally secured by the administration to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez almost doubled by the end of the eight-hour plenary session early Tuesday (March 22) morning, with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. carrying the show for the ruling party. From having 120 sure votes that both the majority and the minority acknowledged was there as of Monday morning, the articles of impeachment against Gutierrez was approved past midnight with 212 votes. What happened in the backroom? Belmonte drove a hard bargain with vulnerable congressmen, according to sources from both the House leadership and the opposition. It was an offensive that not many in the LP were involved in or even aware of...

BISHOP TO SENATORS: JUDGE MERCI ACCORDING TO CONSCIENCE >>> A Catholic bishop today urged senators, who would be acting as judges in the upcoming impeachment trial against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, to vote according to their conscience. "They should vote according to their conscience so that our government will be the government of laws and not affiliated by political party. The law must prevail," Prelature of Isabela de Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad told Church-run Radyo Veritas. Jumoad said the senators must thoroughly examine and study the charges and the pieces of evidence against Gutierrez before making their decision. "They must be conscious of that and the charges that they must weigh according to the merits of the charges," the bishop added. He said Gutierrez must stay "humble" and accept that her fate is now in the hands of the Senate. "She must be humble enough to accept her weaknesses so that the people would say that she is a woman of honor and integrity.

 

“MAP Insights” Column in BUSINESWORLD – 22 March 2011

 

BUILDING A CULTURE OF INTEGRITY WITH CSR

by Junie del Mundo

 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not new to most Filipino companies. Helping out comes naturally to most of us and gives us a warm, happy feeling.   Given the chance, we would like to reach out to people who are in need, especially when we have the time and the extra resources to do so.

 

CSR, though, has evolved beyond mere giving as we have come to define it. It has gained new dimensions, grown in importance and is now a requisite for business.  It is no longer about voluntary giving, but rather, about aligning one’s business goals with a social purpose. In short, CSR is the combination of a profit motive combined with enlightened self-interest that creates trust with one’s stakeholders.

 

Trust, of course, is very valuable. When stakeholders trust our business, we gain credibility and enhance our reputation.  Customers do not hesitate to pay for our businesses or services.  Suppliers are willing to do business with us and people are willing to work for us. Investors do not hesitate to buy shares in our company.  Just think: after BP or Enron damaged the trust of their stakeholders, would you know of anyone willing to do business or work with them?

 

To illustrate the importance of building trust, consider the findings of the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer:  When a company is distrusted, 57% will believe negative information about it after hearing this one or two times, while 15% will believe positive information after hearing this once or twice. The reverse is true for companies that are trusted, with 51% believing positive information they hear about the company after hearing this once or twice, and just 25% believing negative information they hear about it.

 

What does it take to nurture people’s trust in your company? The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that trust-building requires that companies live up to the highest ideals of transparency and professionalism. Among others, trusted companies offer high quality services; have transparent and honest business practices; treat their employees well; and are good corporate citizens.  Not surprisingly, the Trust Barometer showed that “the most trusted businesses are those that align profit and purpose for social benefit.”

 

What are the implications of these? Clearly, businesses have to adapt to the changing nature of trust. Trust has a new architecture, defined by three important pillars: transparency, engagement, and profit with a purpose.

 

Recognizing all these, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) is taking the lead in helping Filipino companies align their businesses with their CSR programs. This would not only benefit Filipino companies and their stakeholders, but would also help MAP achieve its goal of “MAPping a Culture of Integrity” that the Philippines so desperately wants.

 

Towards this, MAP is encouraging its members to sign the Integrity Initiative, spearheaded by the Asian Institute of Management, the Makati Business Club, and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.  The initiative seeks to ensure ethical business practices and create an overall certifying body for businesses, with cooperation from government offices tasked with eliminating corruption. It represents the transparency pillar of the new paradigm of trust.

 

At the same time, MAP is encouraging its members to take part in a CSR survey being undertaken by the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), while pushing for greater synergy between its governance and CSR work. These are very essential in understanding how Filipino companies can make the new CSR paradigm work for them.

 

Over the next few months, MAP hopes to create more CSR believers by continuously highlighting the direct benefit of CSR on the bottom line. Moving forward, MAP will continue to teach and share ways for Filipino companies to understand and embrace the real meaning of CSR, and hopes to learn from them in the process. Amidst the challenges that Filipino businesses face, CSR is a good guidepost to help build the culture of integrity that we need for our country to flourish.

BUSINESS WORLD ( this article was distributed worldwide by Transparency International's daily news service)
 

Philippines’ corruption score worsens


THE PHILIPPINES continues to be viewed as having a serious corruption problem, with its overall score in a regional survey worsening even though it did not slip in a ranking of 16 economies.

On a scale of one to 10 -- with 10 being the worst -- the country garnered a score of 8.9, poorer than 2010’s 8.25, in Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy, Ltd.’s (PERC) latest Asian Intelligence report.

Similar dips for Cambodia (9.27 from 8.30) and Indonesia (9.25 from 9.07), however, allowed the Philippines to stay in third place...

"The Philippines is, perhaps, the Asian country that has been hurt most by corruption," PERC said in the report.

"If one looked at the end of World War II as the starting point for modern Asia, the Philippines today should be the richest economy on a per capita basis in Asia and a leader in many fields...," it added.

The latest survey put the country fourth in terms of political corruption with a rating of 8.27. Civil servants at the city level were deemed most corrupt (8.89), followed by city and other-local level political leaders (8.51), civil servants at the national level (8.10) and national-level leaders (7.57).

In terms of institutional corruption, the country was the third-worst with a score of 8.50. The military had the worst grade (9.25), followed by the tax bureau (8.97) and the police (8.89). The institution viewed as the least corrupt was the stock market, which had a 6.57 score.

With a grade of 8.50, meanwhile, the Philippines was tied in third place with Cambodia in terms of private sector corruption.

Asked as to how effective the system was in terms of prosecuting and punishing individuals involved in corruption, respondents scored the country a 9.75. The government’s seriousness in addressing the problem was scored a slightly less worse 8.10.

Filipinos were seen as very tolerant of corruption, with a score of 9.21.

Bribery among private sector parties was rated an 8.50 and the difficulty in dealing with corruption received an 8.25.

Asked to what extent corruption detracted from the attractiveness of the overall business environment, respondents gave the country an 8.9.

A significantly better score of 6.70 was given with respect to how easy was it to build an internal culture in an organization to ensure that standards are met.

PALACE
 
Corruption index not reflective of investor sentiment
 
Malacaņang said on Wednesday that the results of a survey by a Hong Kong-based think-tank on the perception of corruption in the Philippines does not reflect the sentiments of businessmen who have expressed interest to invest in the country.

"To tell you quite honestly, very contrary to what we have been hearing from CEOs, CFOs and COOs that have come to the Palace. In fact, the President just concluded the meeting with representatives from the US-ASEAN Business Council this morning,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. 

“The representatives did welcome the thrust of the government when it came to anti-corruption, and they agreed with moves to rationalize laws when it came to investments and incentives. They did support the fact that optimism is up among businessmen and the investors in the country. So, again, it's quite at odds with the result of the survey," Valte added...

SOLON
 
Aquino graft drive faltering
 
 
THE campaign of President Benigno Aquino III against graft and corruption seems to be ineffective,  Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said.

She cited the latest intelligence report of ...PERC  which showed that corruption in the country is turning for the worse...“It shows that this administration has been lax in implementing anti-corruption  measures,” Magsaysay said.

She also accused the Aquino administration of tolerating corruption involving people close to the President.  Magsaysay said various resolutions calling for a legislative inquiry into corruption issues have been pending in Congress.

She herself has filed resolutions questioning the sale of IBC 13 below market value, opening of casinos in violation of the law, rate increases by water firms with unfinished business plans, and allowing importation of goods with undervalued amounts.

“I was expecting that this administration was dead serious in stamping out graft because they ran on a platform of good governance, but apparently I’m mistaken as it is still business as usual. Where is ‘daang matuwid’?” Magsaysay said.

DIVISION OF SPOILS
 

New witness Lt. Col. Romeo Mateo, who submitted a sworn affidavit to the Senate, said that under the “conversion” scheme, the following offices took a share of the total cash:

  • Chief accountant of the general headquarters: 2%
  • Commanding officer of the finance center: 1%
  • General headquarters auditor from the Commission on Audit: 1%
  • Office of J7 (commanding general of J7): 3%
  • Budget officer: 1.5%
  • Civil military operations activities: 1%

Mateo said military officers who study abroad are given send-off money. He said the conversion scheme was being done as early as 1989.

Pulse Asia Survey
 48.9 % 
believe that graft and corruption
has proliferated in the military
 
There are now
five witnesses
 to the military corruption:
Lt. Col. George Rabusa
Lt. Col. Sonny Lim
Lt. Col. Romeo Mateo
Ex- State Auditor Heidi Mendoza
 Ex-civilian Budget Officer Perla Valerio.
 

survey.jpg
See article below: "SURVEY: Armed Forces Most Corrupt Agency"

CLICK HERE TO GO TO ORIGINAL LARGER CHART

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE ON LT. COL. ROMEO MATEO TESTIMONY

A GENERAL SPEAKS

"The pervasiveness of the corruption in the government where I served my whole professional life as its dutiful soldier is so appalling that even the most patient and uncomplaining of us will be moved to acts of revolt...

If we want to see a professional army beholden and faithful to civilian rule, then we must fight for good and democratic governance, we must put into office civilian authorities that could govern effectively without resorting to military intervention to extract consent and exercise leadership.

We must put an end to electoral misconduct, grand scale fraud and vote padding-shaving by introducing important electoral reform laws to democratize the electoral process and insulate it from the machinations of traditional politicians and elite families. 

Poor leadership from civilian authorities puts the soldiers and their institution in a tongue-tied situation. Let us remember the ascension of military establishments do not happen in strong, legitimate and democratic governments, they happen when civilian authorities are weak, when there is an absent of strong political parties, when democratic institutions are anything but democratic. 

Furthermore, the military must be isolated from politics – that is, partisan politics of politicians who knock on our barracks for armed support. We call for another form of politicalization among our ranks, a heightening of their social consciousness, and an adherence to the politics of the people – namely, to defend human rights, political liberties and democracy."  

- Brigadier General Danny Lim (Ret)

 at French Chamber of Commerce General

Membership Meeting, March 30, 2011

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More IntegriNews

HEADLINES

Transportation and Communications Department staffer in ARMM, earlier suspended for cause by acting ARMM Governor, worries that resolution of the dishonesty, grave misconduct and insubordination case he filed against six respondents might be delayed due to Ombudsman's present predicament

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IMPEACHMENT PROSECUTOR PROFILE: The return of Rudy Fariñas >>> After a troubled and dark past, the congressman is now at the forefront of a historic impeachment

House approves streamlining of pay at state-owned firms

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Sen. Lacson surfaces

Aquino adds a charge against Gutierrez

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Senators to wear togas for Gutierrez case

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Fast Facts: Who are the Ligots?

Lie detector tests eyed for 10 cops in ransom probe

Go easy on moves to impeach SC justices, House Speaker tells colleagues

DND anti-graft probers focus on 86 reform points

Senate President warns against unduly influencing senators, acting as judges, or disrupting trial with protests or stunts inside Senate building...people staging demonstrations or similar stunts in Senate during impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will not be tolerated...

SENATE PRESIDENT: "Noy statements won't affect Senate judgment on Merci"

Sandiganbayan convicts Dagupan City public prosecutor for demanding and receiving P20,000 bribe money from person who had pending case before his office in 2005

Department of Justice clears Land Transportation Office head Virginia Torres of allegations she facilitated registration of stolen or smuggled vehicle three years ago

House of Representatives approve bill putting cap on salaries and other benefits of officials of government-owned and controlled corporations

Former comptroller of Armed Forces Intelligence Service admitts receiving car from former boss but denies getting at least P100,000 monthly allowance

Palace favors live TV coverage of Ombudsman's impeachment trial

Guingona wants Ligots detained at Senate for "faking illness"

Ligots skip Senate hearing due to illness

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday asked the Senate doctor to examine former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, after they refused to come to the Senate hearing due to illness.

Prosecutors block release of ex-finance official arrested for plunder

DND: Reforms, not just penalties, needed in military

Senate to Ligots: Answer queries on AFP corruption or be cited for contempt

FORBES: Associated Press >>> Philippine official: military graft staggering

"Merci exit to boost fight vs corruption"

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Palace behind blackmail text on impeach vote

House transmits impeachment articles to Senate

Executive withholding DOJ resolution clearing LTO chief in car theft case?

DOJ summons Ligot, wife over tax evasion case

DILG: Awards to ARMM municipalities point to good governance

President Benigno Aquino III hailed as "heroes of the day" two lawmakers who were among the 212 members who voted to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Aquino gets credit for impeach vote: Big House turnout shows President's clout

"One more step closer to holding Arroyo accountable"

Senate should heed "overwhelming vote" for Ombudsman impeachment, say solons

Speaker sees Ombudsman convicted in Senate

Speaker leads 54 lawmakers in taking drug tests

Ombudsman impeachment: How the lawmakers voted

Aquino lauds House members who impeached Ombudsman

SANTIAGO PROPOSES: No texting, media interviews during impeach trial

Arroyo prosecution closer after impeachment of Ombudsman

Did Gloria Arroyo visit Merci after impeach vote?

Guingona to file another impeach complaint vs Gutierrez

Anti-trafficking council gets P25-million campaign booster

Blue Ribbon short of votes to punish Ligots

Senator on Ombudsman impeachment: Why so fast?

 

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IntegriViews
OPINION

HOW A PERSON LOSES A SENSE OF SHAME: A person loses a sense of shame after that person loses a sense of honor. That's a reality that people must understand if they're to appreciate just how corrupt our country had become. It's a strong sense of honor in a country that compels public officials to resign immediately once they are linked to the slightest public scandal... it's hard to fathom how all these former and still active officers of the AFP can shamelessly be claiming memory loss during the Senate hearings. It's hard to fathom how it doesn't appear to affect them that their countrymen are condemning them in the Court of Public Opinion with the way they've been hiding the truth. Because of them, the AFP is now rated by Filipinos as the most corrupt institution in government...There is no Court of Appeals or Supreme Court to reverse a conviction in the Court of Public Opinion...This blatant demonstration of a lack of sense of shame and sense of honor can be considered a reflection of our damaged culture. People can afford to lose their sense of shame when in their country the filthy rich are considered "honorable" even if they accumulated wealth through foul means. Petty bureaucrats with big mansions and expensive cars - which are obviously not within their means to afford - are easily accepted in our communities. Worse, they're even fawned upon, sought for advice and patronized. We never really ostracized a big crook in our country. Oddly, we tend to be less forgiving to the petty crooks - the ones who are forced by circumstances to steal in order to feed their hungry children. A people's culture cannot be more damaged than that...During times like these, we cannot blame some of our young people who admitted in surveys that they privately wish that they were born as another national, instead of a Filipino. Considering how our institutions have already been corrupted to the point that many of our public officials no longer feel a sense of shame - the Filipino must utilize People Power again to shake the comfort zones of these callous individuals. For starters, let's ostracize them, turn our backs to them and refuse to sell anything to them. -- William M. Esposo in The Philippine Star

AFP MOST CORRUPT: The latest Pulse Asia survey shows that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now considered the most corrupt government office with 49 percent of respondents expressing that view. What is regrettable is the fact that up to now Malacañang and DND as well as the new AFP leadership under P-Noy, Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David for eight months and now Gen. Eduardo Oban have not acted to file charges against erring military officers. Inaction and whitewash has been made on the expose of Lt. Col. Rabusa of a $2 million lease of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone from Israel, the annual expenditures of hundreds of millions for overpriced C-130 repairs and the ghost drydocking of navy ships. Also, whitewashed is the release of thousands of AFP guns and ammunitions to the Ampatuan family. There are nasty talks about the planned purpose of another C-130. And, of course, none of the other officers who approved or participated in the conversion of hundreds of millions of funds by AFP comptrollers have been investigated and charged, especially those higher than the comptrollers and ISAFP officers who malversed AFP funds. DND Secretaries should also be held accountable. Lt. Col. Romeo Mateo testified at the Senate that 11 percent of the millions converted were paid out to officers who approved the conversion. Chief of Staff Eduardo Oban should start by clearing up his branch of service, the Philippine Air Force. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in The Philippine Star

Ombudsman Gutierrez claims that her office lacks funds to do her job...the facts exposed by the PCIJ belie this excuse. "The Ombudsman's budget has tripled from P392.08 million in 2003 to P1.33 billion in 2009 during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo...In five years under Gutierrez, the Office's budget grew by an annual average of 21.35 percent, or twice more than the usually allowed increase in the budgets of most other government agencies." -- Rodel Rodis in Inquirer Global Nation

LOCAL GOVERNMENT Secretary Jesse Robredo had better wake up. Local government officials are wasting taxpayers money under his nose. The Quezon City Council is spending hundreds of millions of pesos of QC residents taxes for ghost employees and ghost projects. The Pasig government took its barangay officials on a junket to the resort island of Boracay allegedly for a seminar. The Mandaluyong government will take its barangay captains to Baguio, while the San Juan government took its barangay officials on a vacation to Subic, all paid for by their respective taxpayers. All of the barangay officials are supposed to attend "seminars." "Seminar" is a much abused word. It has become synonymous with "junket." Junkets to vacation spots are labeled as "seminars." Indeed, towards the end of the year, whenever there are funds still unspent, you will notice that many local government officials are holding "seminars." Instead of returning leftover funds to the treasury so they can be put to better use, local officials use them for "seminars." -- Neal Cruz in Philippine Daily Inquirer

...in the end, I still am for impeaching Merci Gutierrez, not for what she has done, but rather for what she hasn't done. Call it an act of omission, which in my book, has put so many good men in hell if we are to use that old quotation by Edmund Burke, "All that's necessary for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing!" in the case of Merci Gutierrez, she did nothing to bring a lot of graft cases into court and our best example is the case of the Girls Scout scam in 2003 in Cebu. Where is it Merci, we pray? In truth, Merci Gutierrez personifies whatever is wrong with our justice system. First of all, our centralized form of government means that the regional directors under the office of the Ombudsman do not have the authority to file graft cases against erring public officials. But more than booting out Merci, who will replace her? If it is going to be someone pro-P-Noy then we are not solving the problem that breeds corruption. -- Bobit S. Avila in The Philippine Star

The core of the issues against Merci is that she betrayed public trust by protecting GMA and her ilk against prosecution. The last thing Merci needed after being impeached by the House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote is a visit from GMA which further reinforces the negative public perception. Whether it was a gesture of sympathy made by GMA for her alleged protector or something deeper than that is now fueling the very perception that is condemning Merci...Going by historical precedents, what is to prevent the peoples frustration if Merci is indeed acquitted by the Senate from bringing the issue again to the streets? If people dared to defy a sitting president in 2001 to stage People Power II, what would prevent them from doing the same now when there is a sitting president who is sympathetic to their cause? Because of the corruption scandals in the armed forces that have been exposed in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee the military has a big stake in this process. We have all the ingredients for a perfect political storm. Obviously, another People Power exercise isnt going to be launched to remove P-Noy. Rather, it will be to remove the obstacles that deter P-Noy from paving the DAANG TUWID (straight path) all Filipinos want. -- William M. Esposo in The Philippine Star

Supreme Court impeachment case aims at stability of judiciary -Letter to Inquirer

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The impeach votes: How much? I also did my own interviews. Threats and promises worked. I believe, however, that the release of several rounds of checks on Monday and Tuesday of the impeachment day did the trick. My informants say that on Monday, those who voted for impeachment received checks chargeable to Fund 101. Some received from two to five checks. These were purportedly for district needs. These checks were immediately cashed at the LandBank branch right in Congress and were, therefore, as good as cash. On Tuesday pabaon was distributed to select congressmen with amounts purportedly reaching as high as P700,000. These were purportedly charged to Pagcor and so-called savings from travel. It is said that where there is smoke, there is a conflagration somewhere. I humbly suggest to the Commission on Audit to check the volume of checks disbursed and cashed on that fateful heroic day when the country applauded the statesmanship of our congressmen. It can be said that this is part of political reality. When the administration, in the name of good governance, does what the former administration used to do, it is making itself more and more vulnerable. Several rounds of checks were reportedly distributed to legislate the 2011 budget. The same thing happened with the impeachment votes, according to sources. When the 2012 budget will be brought for consideration, how much largesse will be parceled out once more? Must the new pot cover itself with soot in order to accuse the kettle of being black? -- Liling Magtolis Briones in Business Mirror

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez...must be going through the...agony of being declared guilty by association, or guilty by publicity, or guilty by innuendoes. Second, the whole point of the exercise is to remove Merceditas Gutierrez from her post even before her fixed term expires in order to pave the way for the appointment of an Aquino Ombudsman whose specific marching orders will be the uncovering of and prosecution of anomalies during the PGMA administration. Third, the impeachment has now been steam-rollered out of the House of Representatives to the Senate for trial where the senators will sit in judgement as judges, and select congressman will act as prosecutors to prove Gutierrez's guilt and justify the House impeachment decision. At first blush, the trial may turn out to be bizarre, trivial, and entertaining as there are only a few legal minds while the majority of senators are either non-lawyers or showbiz. Moreover, the congressmen prosecutors are not exactly the elite of the legal profession, and if private law practioners are brought in, it will be a veritable circus. -- HECTOR R.R. VILLANUEVA in Manila Bulletin

The goal of the Congress prosecutors should not just be to convict Merceditas Gutierrrez but to educate the public on the evils of corruption, especially when it begins with the highest official of the land. Hopefully, it could lead to eliminating this disease which devours the soul of the nation and causes both the material and moral poverty of the Filipino people. -- Melito Salazar Jr. in Manila Bulletin

On Merceditas Gutierrez: One cannot help but wonder what factors prevent an educated and highly qualified person to uphold her honor and dignity. Obviously, like the Ligots, she knows more than what meets the eye. She is evading the "core" truth. I hope she does not commit an "Angie Reyes" act of hara-kiri that would really be unfathomable. If Merci persists in protecting herself against the charges brought upon her, she will only make matters worse and her every word will not only further malign the judiciary but also the Filipino people. Whatever happened to "humility" and statesmanship in this country? On the Ligots: The Ligots never fail to amuse us. Their very act of drama and imagery cheapens and weakens that respect given to an "Officer and a Gentlemen" of the Corps. Our eyes are glued on this teleserye hoping that in some point in time justice will be served in this country. How can a former public servant in his own right mind deny the truth to the Filipino people? Shameless. -- Sara Soliven De Guzman in The Philippine Star

MERCI IS NO LONGER THE OMBUDSMAN: ...The Constitution provides that the term of the Ombudsman expired in 2009, regardless of what the special law says. Merci was no longer Ombudsman for the last two years as she merely inherited four years of Marcelo's term which ended in 2009. Yet she dismissed many cases during the two years that she was acting as an overstaying Ombudsman. Those dismissals are void, according to the legal eagles, as Merci's acts after said expiration were without jurisdiction and therefore not valid. The dismissals being void, the charges against the accused can and should be reinstated. By the same token, those cases she filed are also void from the very beginning, as if no cases were filed by the Ombudsman with the Sandiganbayan. That is why Paguia said it appears that the impeachment process is a "grand cover-up" of Mercis illegal acts by those who, directly or indirectly, "benefited from them." Who are those powerful and influential beneficiaries? The senators, congressmen, Cabinet members, governors, mayors and other officials whose graft cases were dismissed by Ombudsman Gutierrez. The impeachment process legitimizes her two years as overstaying Ombudsman, and therefore also her official acts during those two years, including the dismissal of graft cases and her approval of the plea bargain of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia. If Merci was no longer the Ombudsman since 2009, those dismissals would have to be reinstated and the Garcia plea bargain voided. All that President Benigno Aquino III has to do now is to declare the position of Ombudsman vacant and appoint a new one. Let Merci question it at the Supreme Court. Considering the slowness of the wheels of justice, no thanks to the high tribunal, by the time it comes to a decision on Mercis case, her claimed new term (which is due to expire next year) would be over anyway. So it doesnt matter what decision the high court makes. Even if it declares that Merci is still the Ombudsman, her term would be over by operation of law. (By the same token, by the time the impeachment trial is finished, Mercis new term would have already expired. What a waste.)... I suspect that the Aquino administration is using Merci as a convenient scapegoat to rationalize its failure to pursue its promise to wage an all-out war against corruption. -- Neal Cruz in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez, A Victory for the People >>> Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the struggle to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was waged not only inside the House of Representatives but was also waged by the people outside the halls of Congress. (Click to go to long descriptive article from Vox Bikol by ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should now have the decency and delicadeza to resign. It was pretty obvious that neither the minions of Iglesia ni Cristo nor the die-hard stragglers of the corrupt Arroyo regime could derail the popular clamor. The handwriting on the wall is now clearer than ever; she should heed it - or find herself mercilessly nailed to that wall soon enough...She misses the point altogether. The Office of the Ombudsman was created as the premier sentinel to wipe out graft and corruption in government and, in effect, the guardian of public morals and good customs. The holder of that office must be "like Caesars wife, beyond reproach" and must have some kind of moral ascendancy over all public officials of the land. STEPHEN L. MONSANTO in letter to Inquirer

Our proposal...: Instead of having the House prosecutors present their case in all six articles, before the Senate votes to acquit or to convict, perhaps the Senate can amend its impeachment rules when it resumes session on May 9 and adopt a new process: Let the House lawyers prosecute the six charges one at a time, and then the Senate will vote to acquit or to convict after each one. That is to say, after the House prosecutors complete presenting the evidence and arguing the case for the first article of impeachment, then the senator-judges will meet to rule on it. If the votes add up to conviction, then there is no longer any need to continue with the impeachment trial; Gutierrez is effectively removed from office. If the first article fails to secure an acquittal, then the House prosecutors move on to the second, after which the Senate meets and votes again, and so on down the line. The advantage here is that an early conviction will bring the trial to an early end... -- Inquirer Editorial

The Senate is an entirely different arena from the House. What the House is mandated to do is determine whether there is a "probable cause" to impeach the ombudsman for "betrayal of public trust," based on the six counts of the consolidated two complaints cited in the articles of impeachment. This having been done, the House prosecution panel is burdened with making a case with the Senate to convict the ombudsman. An impeachment trial is a forum where senators sitting as judges are required to submit evidence to more rigorous scrutiny as demonstrated in the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada. Historically, the Philippine Senate has been a more difficult institution to dominate than the House, which has been vulnerable to executive manipulation and subordination. The distribution of votes in the Senate makes it difficult to predict alignments and outcomes. What's more likely are shifting alignments during the trial. -- Amando Doronila in Philippine Daily Inquirer

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The 212-46 vote to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro Gutierrez is definitely a victory for President Aquino, Speaker Sonny Belmonte and the pork barrel system. A top House leader told us that while Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya denied the text threatening Congressmen who vote no, absent or abstain with zero pork barrel release, many Congressmen believed the text came from Malacañang and could not risk losing their PDAP or pork barrel allocation of P70 million. While they lost the vote, 46 congressmen showed that they cannot be bought by an offer of pork barrel. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in The Philippine Star

As the numbers stand at the Senate, the chamber has 24 members minus one who is now President Benigno Aquino III but still all of 23, including Sen. Panfilo Lacson, though yet to return from dodging the warrant of arrest for the Dacer-Corbito murder case. Sixteen senators will boot the Ombudsman out of office, but eight will be enough to keep her in place. Coffeeshop odd makers are looking at six for impeachment and four against it at the moment. I'd say the count is going to be very close whichever way it goes. -- Editorial in Journal OnLine

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, those involved must remember that when this is over, the impeachment process should be stronger and the Office of the Ombudsman would be on its way to regaining credibility. The impeachment process is designed to prevent its arbitrary application, but in recent years the process has become compromised, with each impeachment effort turning into a farce. The last successful impeachment was that of Joseph Estrada, but the process was not allowed to take its course as the second people power revolt hastened his ouster from the presidency. This time the impeachment trial must be completed and the process infused with sufficient credibility. This shouldn't be just about ousting a public official but also about building institutional integrity. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

It is the forces against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which have degraded democracy's weapon of impeachment. The blood lust against her has been seething; there is after all, for most insecure regimes, a need to demonize the past regime as a distraction from its inadequacies. Gutierrez wouldn't cooperate with their project, thus she has to be taken out, and the only venue is impeachment. Using impeachment for a regime's agendahow much more can you debase a constitutional process? -- Rigoberto D. Tiglao in Philippine Daily Inquirer

In this country, representative democracy works badly because the people disappear after the elections. After elections, public officials expect the public to get out of their way. In theory so they can get on with their work, in practice so that they can do what they want. The exponential rise of corruption throughout the postwar years must testify to what officials being free to do what they want means. There are laws, but they are ignored or used to get around proscriptions. There is no culture to ostracize the corrupt or drive them to commit hara-kiri. There is no (permanently) outspoken citizenry to routinely demand that the wayward be punished and the upright rewarded. Impeachment is one of the exceedingly few ways the citizens can do to an official who has betrayed their trust. It is one of the exceedingly few ways the citizens can take part in governance between elections. It is one of the exceedingly few ways that, as seen in the Erap impeachment, they can get to sit in judgment over their officials and hold the power in their hands.-- Conrado de Quiros in Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Makati Business Club applauds the members of the House of Representatives' resounding approval of the House Justice Committee's report calling for the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, paving the way for the impeachment trial at the Senate. Finally, the Filipino people will be able to exact accountability from a public official who has long frustrated the people's desire for justice and unapologetically held on to her position despite her offices indefensibly poor track record in prosecuting corrupt public officials. The ball is now in the Senate's court. We believe in the strength of the evidence pointing to the Ombudsman's betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution. All we ask is that the honorable members of the Senate conduct the impeachment trial without undue delay, and that the greater interest of the Filipino people and the restoration of their trust in our justice system remain uppermost in the minds of our senators as they consider the merits of the case against the Ombudsman.

The value of impeachment, especially for a country like ours, does not just lie in its goal, which is to convict the guilty or find him innocent, it lies in its process, which is to educate the public in the ways of democracy... Never underestimate the power of images. You give the impression of government's allies in the Senate ganging up on poor old Merci, or even the not-so-poor-and-old Gloria, you are going to provoke a backlash. You give the impression of government's allies in the Senate eager to convict Merci, saying "No, thank you, merci," to the painstaking process of weighing the evidence, you are not going to give the public an education in law and justice, you are going to give the public an idea of schoolyard bullying. You give the impression of government's allies getting back at their enemiesor former friends/patrons... -- Conrado de Quiros in Philippine Daily Inquirer

In the face of fully documented, incontrovertible evidence showing such vast disparity between legitimate income and immense assets, the public cannot but conclude that the contrived legalistic "misreading" of the language of the law is being peddled to mask the complicity of the Ombudsman, and in the process its constitutional independence is invoked to evade accountabilities. Certainly such sophistry cannot - should not - frustrate our justice system. - ALFREDO V. ASUNCION in Letter to The Inquirer

IMPEACHMENT STEAMROLLER: ...Some critics of of Mr. Aquino say he has a slow "learning curve," but his interventions to push the House to impeach Gutierrez demonstrate that they have grossly underestimated his ability to emulate underhanded methods he deplored when used by Arroyo when she used her party's superior numbers in the House to choke the complaints against her. Two weeks ago, Mr. Aquino met Liberal Party members of the House to step up efforts to impeach Gutierrez, telling them that they have a duty to support the administration's campaign to eradicate corruption in government. His pressure bore fruit not only with the LP, which has only 80 members in the House, but also with representatives of other parties, when the committee on justice hammered out a draft of the articles within a few days of the meeting, and voted to report it out to the plenary which subsequently voted overwhelmingly to impeach and to transmit the articles to the Senate for trial. It would be utterly naïve to presume that House members are unaware of the immense patronage resources, including pork barrel fund releases, available to the President to grease the engines of the legislative mill and produce results on crucial measures central to the success of his projects, such as purging the government of corruption. In these machinations to steamroller this top priority project in the House, the President has proved no less unscrupulous than Arroyo in deploying all available means to achieve his objectives. The only difference is that Mr. Aquino is hypocritical, giving method an aura of a holy war against corruption. Mr. Aquino is not coming with clean hands in his intervention to bulldoze opposition to the impeachment cases against Gutierrez. The impeachment of Gutierrez is so far the most outstanding success and accomplishment of his administration during its first year, which has been bereft of concrete programs. The impeachment process has become very messy. He better watch out for opinion polls. The latest survey by Pulse Asia shows his ratings have begun to slide. It cannot be stopped by pious slogans. -- Amando Doronila in Philippine Daily Inquirer

For many first-term legislators, impeaching Gutierrez was a duty. Aware of the anti-corruption message of the 2010 poll outcome, they needed to be true to voters. Requests by certain religionists to be absent last Monday, and so have no quorum for the voting, were ignored. The young legislators consulted their constituents. Sectoral Rep. Angelo Palmones noted, "Gutierrez's supporters may say all they want, but the message is clear. People want removal of the corrupt. In exercise of people power, the majority overwhelmingly voted for impeachment." Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. opined that the voting was a piercing of Arroyo's armor. Gutierrez was one of many booby traps left behind to deter the exposure of the Arroyo tenure's anomalies. More lie hidden in government corporations and financial institutions, and in lower and higher courts. "With Gutierrez's impeachment," Pimentel said, "Arroyo can now be made to answer for her abuses in power." -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

THOUSANDS OF GHOST EMPLOYEES IN QUEZON CITY HALL: Quezon City prides itself in being the richest city in the Philippines. The city government has billions of pesos deposited in the banks. All that money comes from taxes paid by the residents and businesses of the countrys largest city. The problem of most Philippine cities is the lack of funds. They don't have enough money to finance essential services and infrastructure projects. Not Quezon City. Its problem is that it has too much money, as a result of which corruption is very bad in the city government. And among the worst offenders are the representatives of the people themselves: the councilors. There are thousands of ghost employees in the city's payroll, most of them supposedly working for the councilors. Each of the 26 councilors has 124 employees but only 20 or so of them are real flesh-and-blood employees. The others are non-existent. They exist only in the payrolls and in the personal data sheets, most of which are fake. Somebody collects and pockets their pay every month. Each councilor has an P800,000 monthly payroll. There are 26 councilors. So do the arithmetic and you will have an idea of how much taxpayers' money is lost to ghost employees. A rough estimate of the amount stolen is P4 billion yearly! -- Neal Cruz in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Maintaining, even increasing the pork barrel funds is definitely not an anti corruption move. The going rate is a 30-50 percent kickback on pork barrel funded projects. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in The Philippine Star

CHILDREN OF CORRUPT PUBLIC OFFICIALS: ...corrupt people are not ostracized the way a killer, a rapist, a child killer would be. The corrupt are much, much worse, of course; they commit their illegal acts repeatedly so that, often, those become second nature to them. What's so difficult to comprehend, even as we see it happening every day, is that corrupt people are adored, sought after to become godparents in weddings and baptisms, even addressed as "honorable." What is just as difficult to comprehend is that the church addresses corruption - which kills millions - with much less ferocity than it does artificial population control and the RH bill. Why? Could it be that some church officials are beneficiaries of - as some bishops are suspected to be - corrupt practices? Could it be because it is not easy to do battle with powerful government officials and much easier to do battle with nameless and poor mothers? Frankly, I don't know. I also don't know why obviously corrupt government officials continue to be served communion, instead of being excommunicated. There's one other aspect about this matter that I often wonder about -- how do the children of corrupt people feel about their parents?...Are they proud of them? Are they enjoying the fruits of corruption so much that they have learned to ignore how evil the practice is? Have they learned to close their eyes when they see the poor people who are the victims of their parents' illegal and immoral acts? Have they volunteered for civic projects as some kind of "penance" for their parents' sins? Or do they quietly despise them? Did they turn into drugs because of them?...I find it important to know and be able to analyze how the children of corrupt public officials think and feel because I believe that if there's any group of persons who have the best chance of rehabilitating these public officials, it would be their children ... and grandchildren.

CITIZEN OPINIONS ON: How do you feel about the plea deal entered into by government prosecutors with accused plunderer Gen. Carlos Garcia? (click to read)

 

INVESTORS DETERRED BY CORRUPTION: Advised to "Look before you leap," manage risk in global investments

Investing in emerging markets has become all the rage. But high levels of corruption in those countries pose a growing threat to portfolio results.

According to accounting giant Deloitte LLP, nearly two-thirds of a group of more than 500 executives it surveyed from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico reported that bribery, corruption, and lack of transparency derailed offshore takeovers or led international deals to be renegotiated during the past three years.

PRESIDENT AQUINO

"Together, we can end the systematized corruption that has prevented our country from fulfilling its vast potential."

During the campaign, we promised to the Filipino people a government of reform. We promised to put an end to the corruption that had been so prevalent in the years leading up to last year’s election. We promised a government that does its job; a government that is not allergic to the word “overtime”; a government that puts the interests of the Filipino people on the forefront of every single project. We are delivering on these promises, and this has redounded to significant improvements in many areas of concern, especially our economy...

We have been cutting the bureaucratic red tape that has plagued businesses in the Philippines for so long. Among the steps we have taken is the reassessment of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s tax rulings process. We have likewise reduced the requirements for bidding documents at the Department of Public Works and Highways from fifteen documents to just eight...

We are working to eliminate corruption in our institutions. I know that corruption can seem easy over the short term—bribe the right people and you can get the deal. But look what happens to those who do this: Sooner or later, the anomalies are discovered, there is public outrage, and the deals are undone. In the end, the money invested, and the bribes spent on the project are wasted. Who hasn’t heard of NBN-ZTE, Megapacific, NAIA Terminal Three, and other deals that have unraveled? What a waste of private capital and taxpayers’ money. Adding insult to injury is that those who were caught are not prosecuted or allowed to plea bargain instead of being tried.

We are trying to create an environment where this does not happen, where no one questions the legitimacy of such deals, and where nothing needs to be undone later on. And part of creating such an environment is putting in place the right people who will prosecute those who do such things. That is why we called for the impeachment of the Ombudsman. We cannot have deals such as ZTE, Megapacific, or NAIA3 holding back the country any longer. The impeachment of the Ombudsman is the strongest signal we can send to you right now that we are trying to put in place the kind of level playing field for your businesses to survive and prosper in the long term. As the senate prepares to try the Ombudsman, I urge you to support this and other efforts to fight corruption.

Together, we can eliminate the dark elements that hinder us from the true and lasting change that we have long hoped for. Together, we can end the systematized corruption that has prevented our country from fulfilling its vast potential. We must continue tapping into this spirit of bayanihan that runs in our blood in order to finally lift this country together, as fellow Filipinos, back to its rightful place under the daylight...

 - President Benigno S. Aquino III

- Cagayan de Oro City, March 23, 2011

 

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Ehem -- the anti-corruption initiative of the Philippine Jesuits echoes the urgent call for cultural reform against corruption in the Philippines.
Ehem aims at bringing people to a renewed sensitivity to the evil of corruption and its prevalence in ordinary life. It seeks ultimately to make them more intensely aware of their own vulnerability to corruption, their own uncritiqued, often unwitting practice of corruption in daily life.
Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical of corruption, intent on integrity!
 
Management Association of the Philippines 
MAP is a management organization committed to promoting management excellence. The members of the MAP represent a cross-section of CEOs, COOs and other top executives from the top local and multinational companies operating in the country, including some top officials of government and the academe.

iPro supports the process of reducing corruption by seeking synergies between Government of the Republic of the Philippines agencies and civil society at all levels.

 
 
This website primarily serves to gather for research and educational purposes in one single place news and information specifically pertinent to integrity and corruption in the Philippines. The news items, views, editorials and opinions summarized or reported on this website are taken from the general media and reputable blogs, websites, etc., and are exclusively the responsibility of the original sources and/or authors. In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this website is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit research and educational purposes only. Ref: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html
                                               E-MAIL: IntegriNews@aol.com                                       iPro
                                                                      

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