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TOP NEWS

WHERE DID P1.6b SAVINGS GO?: Bayan Muna has reported that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez racked up P1.653 billion in savings representing unused allocation in her first four years in office and now asks, where did the amount go? Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares said that the Commission on Audit should review the finances of the Office of the Ombudsman to determine where the savings had been spent. He said that the accumulated savings of government agencies were "a source of corruption" for government officials who scrimp on their department's spending to be able to accrue savings and divert the funds for personal gains.

CUSTOMS: EU AMBASSADORS CALL FOR MORE GOVERNMENT ACTION >>> Cleaning up the Bureau of Customs (BoC) remains one of the biggest concerns of European countries who want to trade with the Philippines. European Union (EU) ambassadors yesterday raised the concern even as they noted the technical capacity of the country's main ports during a tour of the Manila International Container Port (MICP)..."There are still some complaints from European companies about the transparency of fees charged to them," German Ambassador Christian-Ludwig Weber-Lortsch told BusinessWorld. "Speedy and clean transactions are still our priority," he added..."Transparent countries get privileged channels of trade,"...The concerns of EU members have already been brought up with the BoC, though, and the two organizations are cooperating to address them, Mr. Weber-Lortsch said. BoC officials, meanwhile, assured the delegation of 13 ambassadors that reforms were being implemented to address corruption in the agency. The bureau is automating its system to reduce face-to-face transactions, Customs Deputy Commissioner Horacio P. Suansing, Jr. said during the press conference. With less human intervention, there will be less opportunities for corruption.

SANDIGANBAYAN CLEARS EX-GENERAL OF FAKING BIRTH DATE: The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has cleared a retired general of charges that he had falsified his birth date on public records in order to be promoted and to extend his tour of duty. Maj. Gen. Ralph Flores, who has since retired, allegedly placed his birth date as March 30, 1949, instead of his supposed actual birth date of March 30, 1946, in nine documents that he had submitted to the Commission on Appointments. ...the Sandiganbayan...said the prosecution failed to establish the exact birth date of Flores. Two of the five justices who voted in the case dissented with the majority ruling, however...In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Alex Quiroz said that Flores was guilty of falsification because he was a public officer who made untruthful statements in public documents. In its decision, the court said...that there was no record of Flores birth. It rejected the prosecution's contention that Flores was really born in 1946, as evidenced by his finishing his elementary school studies in 1957. The prosecution had argued that if Flores was born in 1949 as he had claimed, it would mean he had entered Grade 1 when he was only two years old. The court also said the documents that Flores submitted to the Commission on Appointments...could not be considered public documents and their submission did not make them public records.

CORRUPTPORT: PHILIPPINES HAS WORLD'S 5th WORST AIRPORT >>> "Bribery and corruption in this airport is rife and the scams start the minute you walk off the plane." Corruption and safety concerns abound, says website which names the best and worst facilities around the world >>> www.sleepinginairports.net

BIDDERS OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS URGED TO SIGN "INTEGRITY PLEDGE": Bidders for government contracts will soon be required to sign the "Integrity Pledge," an anti-corruption campaign where companies commit not to engage in corrupt practices, in an effort to eliminate corruption in government. European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (EECP) vice-president for external affairs Henry Schumacher told a press conference that the ECCP has been meeting with various government agencies to enlist their support for the "Integrity Pledge" starting with the bidding of contracts. Schumacher, who was replaced by Michel Milado as ECCP executive vice president, said that at least 7 government agencies have committed to undertake their counterpart the business communitys "Integrity Pledge" list for their bidders. These agencies are Departments of Energy, Education, Public Works and Highways, the Bureau of Customs, Budget and Management, Transportation and Communication, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

New CoA officials receive warm welcome

By BEN R. ROSARIO, Manila Bulletin - April 12, 2011
 
Employees and incumbent executives of the Commission on Audit have apparently buried the hatchet with two new Aquino appointees who will take over the reins of the constitutional body.

Newly appointed Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza were warmly received by the CoA community when they heard Mass at its main office in Quezon City.

COA officials and employees have previously aired misgivings over the controversy-laden entry of the two fresh members of the commission.

The objection against Pulido-Tan, who vowed transparency and openness as twin main policies she will push, was centered on her being an “outsider”.

The Philippine Government Audit Service Employees Association (PHILGASEA) has withdrawn its objection against Tan but appealed to the president to "pick among CoA officials” when he appoints new officials next time.

On the other hand, Mendoza apologized to those who were hurt by pronouncements aired in the Senate hearings in connection with alleged corruption in the Commission.

Mendoza, the whistleblower in the AFP fund scam, was previously a state auditor who resigned in disgust over alleged refusal of her seniors to support her findings on alleged anomalies in the handling of military funds.

Pulido-Tan and Mendoza are set to formally start with their new jobs on Monday, with the former vowing to start work by meeting Commissioners Juanito Espino Jr. and Mendoza to start discussing their plan of action.

“Overstaying auditors ang lumulutang na priority. Matagal na tinitingnan natin iyong napakadaming conflict sa area na ito,” said Pulido Tan when asked what her priority concern would be.

Pulido-Tan said she has gathered than a number of auditors have remained in their post for over the usual three year tour of duty.

Referring to graft and malversation cases filed before the Sandiganbayan, Pulido-Tan said a mechanism for the review of audit recommendations and follow up of their proposed action to government agencies will also form part of the priority.

The former finance undersecretary stressed that while many graft charges are based on audit findings made by CoA, the filing of charges and implementation of administration action is vested on the concerned agency.

“Testigo lamang ang CoA. Hindi siya ang naghahabla,” PUlido-Tan stressed. (CoA is just a witness. It is not its duty to file charges.)

Asked if she received any “marching orders” from Aquino, the new CoA chief said she has yet to meet Aquino since the president surprised her by announcing her appointment to the state audit agency.

“It’s a good thing we didn’t (meet). CoA does not take marching orders from anyone,” Pulido-Tan said as she stressed that the agency is an independent constitutional body.

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/313848/new-coa-officials-receive-warm-welcome

MIKEY ARROYO COMMITTED FRAUD TO PURCHASE BEACH HOUSE IN US?: While Ang Galing Party-list Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo insists there is nothing wrong in the sale of his alleged beachfront house in California, he should be posed a question as to how it landed on his lap in the first place, a finance expert said. In an interview with ABS-CBN Northern America News Bureau, financial advisor James Triguero is wondering how Arroyo got his mortgage approved when he purchased the Foster City property in 2006. "He makes P455,000 a year. That would not even cover the property taxes on that property. How did they get a loan for $1 million? They would have to commit mortgaged fraud and claim that they had a $300,000 plus income in the United States, when of course he's functioning as a congressman in the Philippines to qualify," he explained. He stressed: "If you lie on a mortgage application like that, thats fraud." VERA Files reported on Monday that a company partly-owned by the former First Son sold the house for $1.125 million to owners of the restaurant chain "Gerrys Grill." VERA Files said Arroyo claimed 40% ownership of the real estate firm, Beachway LLC, but "visitors to the Foster City property were left without a doubt as to its occupants' identities." VERA Files obtained photos of Mikey and his family displayed on some furnitures in the house. In a separate interview, Arroyo said there is nothing wrong with the sale of the 5-bedroom house overlooking San Francisco Bay. He said it has been acquired by Beachway LLC, where he only has a minority stake. ABS-CBN found out that the former First Son actually got 2 mortgages that reached more than $1 million for the property, which was originally under the name of his wife Ma. Angela. Within 2 years, these were all paid off. It was after a year that it was sold to Beachway. Triguero, however, asked how they were able to bring in huge sums of money in the US without alarm bells going off..

COA UNCOVERS ANOMALIES IN OZAMIS TAX HANDLING: The Commission on Audit claims to have found "grave irregularities" in the financial transactions of the city government. But as far as Mayor Nova Princess Echaves is concerned her administration has not done anything unlawful. In a report submitted last week, Laura May Ozaraga, head of a special audit team formed by the COA office in Northern Mindanao, said the anomalies the team uncovered were the failure of the city government to remit P40 million in Real Property Tax and Community Tax Certificate collections to the city's 51 barangay (villages) from July to September 2010.

IRREGULARITIES OF NBI AGENTS "FORCE" SUSPECT'S ESCAPE: A murder and robbery suspect said he bolted the National Bureau of Investigation jail last February because he could no longer stomach alleged irregularities perpetrated by his arresting officers. Albert Faye Mata...said he joined...in the escape to reveal alleged illegal manueverings done by his arresting officers to take his properties. The properties included a condominium unit, two vehicles, and a small franchise business. "They took all my properties. They deceived me and asked me to sign papers to sell all the properties which I owned," Mata told reporters. NBI agents reportedly escorted Mata out of his cell to withdraw money from his ATM account. He said the NBI agents had also threatened to kill his son.

MANILA EX-MAYOR FACES PLUNDER CASE: The city government of Manila has filed a P4.5-billion plunder case against former Manila Mayor and former Environment Secretary Joselito "Lito" Atienza Jr. over the allegedly overpriced Pasig River dredging project.

ARMED FORCES PROBING ANOTHER SENIOR OFFICIAL FOR IRREGULARITIES: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is investigating another senior official after finding out irregularities in the military's consumption of petroleum, oil and lubricants, which reached almost half a billion in just one quarter. In a press briefing, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said the probe against AFP deputy chief of staff for logistics Commodore Teddy Pan was ordered by current chief Gen. Eduardo Oban himself. Former AFP chief Gen. Ricardo David supposedly informed Oban of the anomaly during the turnover ceremony last March 7. "He (David) was not knowledgeable until the latter part (of his tenure) and he was the one who initiated the conduct of the investigation," said Mabanta. David and Pan are both members of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1997. Pan, who is set to retire on July 17, supposedly reported a P400 million-worth consumption of petroleum, oil and lubricants from January to March 15, way above the authorized P150 million for every quarter. The incident is fueling suspicions that the military is still resorting to an illegal conversion scheme to generate funds for the going-away gift of David, who declared earlier he had not received any. "There is now an ongoing investigation. Initial investigation apparently states that there seems to be no discrepancy, there seems to be no malpractices. However, it is still too early and we will be informing you of the developments as we move on," Mabanta said...He said the move is part of Oban's promise to rid the military of corruption.

IN THE GUARDIAN (UK): "Corruption is embedded in the Philippines. It has been estimated that 20% to 30% of public expenditure goes astray. But the work of challenging this kind of fraud is dangerous. In some parts of the Philippines there is effectively a form of warlordism. So the country is a good place to test out what citizens armed with new technologies can do to challenge poor governance."

PRESIDENT AQUINO: "FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION BEARING FRUIT" >>> The administration's fight to weed corrupt officials out of the bureaucracy is already bearing fruit, notably with the likely impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, President Aquino said yesterday. "We have succeeded (in the impeachment) at the House, and sending the articles of impeachment for trial at the Senate. In about a month's time (an impeachment trial will start). So, the change that we're pursuing can be achieved," Aquino said in an impromptu speech before students and faculty of St. Paul University in Ermita, Manila. "We now have a battle at the Ombudsman. Perhaps the case that we should pay most attention to is that of (retired military comptroller Carlos) Garcia," he said.

New chair determined

to keep COA clean

The Commission on Audit (COA) has a new chairperson in Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan.

Tan takes the helm of COA chair, taking over from Reynaldo Villar.

 

 

 

 

 

With her experience as a lawyer in the private sector and as an accountant, Tan is well-suited for the top COA post, said Malacaņang.

A private lawyer by profession, Tan was not always enthralled by the prospect of serving in government. But when the late Presidential Commission on Good Government tapped her to serve in the agency, she didn't think twice.

"It was very important to me that if I left my comfort zone, I wanted it to be with someone I admired and respected. I said yes," she said.

Tan later served as Finance Undersecretary for Revenue Operations under the Arroyo administration.

"I was there not to have a career in government. I was needed at that time," Tan revealed.

When Secretary (Isidro) Camacho resigned, she said she would also resign with him, but decided to stay on to help Undersecretary Juanita Amatong who took over the post, before she eventually returned to private practice.

Today, Tan said she intends to lead by example to ensure the agency remains above board.

"When you say 'graft buster', we always start with ourselves," Tan said on ANC's "The Rundown" on Friday.

"As head of the office, the buck stops with me. It's command responsibility. We have to police our own ranks so we can do the job we have been called upon to do the best way we can and in the most efficient and effective manner."

Cleaning up COA

Despite claims of irregularities among some COA officials, Tan said she believes there are dedicated public servants. She said she wants to get to know the commission's staff and will not hesitate to tap corrective measures if necessary.

Tan subscribes to proper documentation, and rotating auditors to keep them from becoming overly familiar with the agency they're auditing.

But Tan admitted it may not be easy to report discrepancies as there is still a need to balance this with the right to due process.

"Are we going to be proactive in filing complaints? We have to look at that because we might be going beyond our mandate. On the other hand, when there's a complaint, we can't just dismiss it. We have to identify and authenticate the report.

"I don't want to focus on it being a time of controversy for the COA, rather it's a time of coming out for the COA," she added.

A Commission of three

Tan said she welcomes the chance to work with celebrated whistle-blower and now COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza.

Tan added that Mendoza's own efforts at fighting corruption in government, by baring what she knows about alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Congressional hearings, has helped bring the commission's work to the forefront.

"It's going to be a commission of three: Heidi, me and Commissioner Juanito Espino Jr.," Tan said.

"I'm not intimidated at all. I'm happy for her [that] people are taking notice. She brought the COA to the public consciousness, the nature of its work, and what the public can do to help.

"I'm glad she's there. That's going to make my job easier at the COA. What's important for me is if we're getting the job done," Tan added.

Bringing COA closer to the people

Tan will serve as COA chair until February 2, 2015.

During her term, she hopes to bring the Commission closer to the public by tapping its media arm. She also wants to make Filipinos realize that they have a stake in making government officials accountable.

"The COA was meant to give people a proper and full accounting of their money.

"We will strengthen the COA. We will bring it closer to the people. We will engage the people to help us carry out our constitutional mandate," Tan said.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/04/09/11/new-chair-determined-keep-coa-clean

 

 

 

“MAP STATEMENT OF THE WEEK” - 11 April 2011

 

APPOINTMENT OF MS. HEIDI MENDOZA AS COA COMMISSIONER

 

In line with our theme of “MAPping a Culture of Integrity” and our goal this year to address Corruption, Criminality and Climate Change, we in the MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP) highly commends the appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as Commissioner of the Commission on Audit (COA).

 

MAP commits to continue helping Ms. Mendoza for her crusade against corruption which continues to be one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and prosperity in the country, and it has been eroding the moral fiber of the nation.

 

Corruption in public service is anti-poor and is blatantly opposed to the “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” battlecry of President Benigno C. Aquino III.  The public money that went to private pockets of greedy public officials and their families could have been used to fund programs for the poor on education, health care and housing.

 

We encourage Congress to immediately enact the Freedom of Information Law which will give the access to information heretofore hidden from public scrutiny, and the protection for truth-tellers and whistle-blowers.

 

We encourage the business community, especially the members of MAP, to support the anti-corruption programs of Commissioner Mendoza whose involvement in COA will certainly assist all of us in “MAPping a Culture of Integrity.”

 

Feedback at <map@globelines.com.ph>.  The previous statement can be viewed at http://map.org.ph/members/mappingthefuture.php?dir=MAP%20Statement%20of%20the%20Week

AMPATUAN, STAFF USED SPURRIOUS RECEIPTS TO REIMBURSE P2.5b ARMM FUNDS: Detained former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and at least 10 of his former staff used spurious receipts and invoices to support disbursements of some P2.559 billion of regional funds in 2008 and 2009, according to the Commission on Audit (COA). In its Special Audit report, COA reported that some transactions might be considered fictitious as these were supported with spurious receipts and invoices. The audit covered the period of January 2008 to September 2009 and was conducted from Feb. 1 to Dec. 20, 2010. While funds were released to settle obligations of six line agencies of the ARMM, COA said officials of the Office of the Regional Governor, whose signatures appeared to have been scanned by a computer, signed all documents supporting payments. "There were no documents to prove that the goods and services were received by the concerned six line agencies," COA reported.

DOJ WON'T LET BIR HANDLE TAX CASES: The Department of Justice (DoJ) is objecting to several bills filed in the House of Representatives that seek to give lawyers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the exclusive mandate to investigate, handle and prosecute tax-related cases. In a position paper submitted to the House committee on ways and means chaired by Batangas Representative Hermilando Mandanas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that tax cases fell within the jurisdiction and competence of the DoJ's National Prosecution Service (NPS).

COURT ORDERS IMELDA TO PAY BACK P12m TAKEN FROM NFA: The Sandiganbayan's fifth division has ordered former first lady Imelda Marcos to pay back the government P12 million illegally taken from the National Food Authority (NFA). A two-page writ of execution was issued against the widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos last week to be implemented by Sandiganbayan Sheriff Edgardo Urieta.

SOLON: SENATE SHOULD CALL EX-FIRST COUPLE >>> Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband and her former Cabinet officials should be compelled to take the witness stand in the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in the Senate, Rep. Walden Bello said. Bello, representing the party-list group Akbayan, said getting major players like Arroyo to testify would boost the chances of convicting Gutierrez. Bello noted that Arroyo and her Cabinet were able to evade previous investigations such as the one on the fertilizer fund scam and NBN-ZTE deal when Arroyo was in office.

EX-DPWH EXEC BEATS GRAFT RAP: Former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary Salvador Pleyto is on a winning streak in his fight against the graft cases filed against him. After reversing an Ombudsman decision dismissing Pleyto from the government service for unexplained wealth in 2007, the Supreme Court this year found him guilty only of negligence for failing to disclose his wife's business interests in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for the years 1999 to 2001.

GUTIERREZ SHOULD GET CREDIT FOR RETURN OF LIGOT FUNDS: Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should also get credit for the Philippine government's receipt of $132,000 in proceeds from the sale of a forfeited California property owned by the wife of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot. According to Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus, it was Gutierrez who initiated the request in 2009 for the money equivalent to about P5.7 million to be turned over to the Philippine government.

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More IntegriNews

HEADLINES

Former Agriculture execs urged to name fertilizer fund scam mastermind

Ombudsman spokesman says decision to file criminal charge for P728-million fertilizer fund scam not ploy to "counter" impeachment

Credit Merci for recovery of $132,000

Oust Merceditas Gutierrez Movement and other groups brought baby strollers with baby dolls representing alleged "babying" done by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to alleged big-time corrupt officials in protest held Thursday

Stradcom Corporation files criminal charges against Assistant Secretary, chief of Land Transportation Office, for allegedly withholding over P1 billion in overdue payments since October 2010.

Ombudsman boots out crooked customs employee

Ombudsman orders plunder charges vs "Jocjoc," Lorenzo

"Customs computerization lessens corruption"

"Merci's trial should not drag until her retirement"

Graft evidence vs Ampatuan submitted to DOJ

LTO chief faces graft case for refusing to pay Stradcom P1B

Rabusa to file plunder raps vs. 2 ex-AFP chiefs

Noy stands by decision to dismiss deputy Ombudsman

PCGG: Cojuangco got loan because of his close ties with Marcos

SENATOR: Impeachment trial unnecessary if Merci resigns

DOJ forms panel to probe Banco Filipino row

House bares assignments of prosecutors in Merci case

Case of plunder being readied by Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Justice against former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for alleged misuse of public funds in 2008-2009

Deputy Ombudsman fired by President asks Supreme Court to reject termination, saying Malacañang has no power to order dismissal under Constitution

SENATOR: Calling Arroyo to Ombudsman impeach trial "counterproductive"

House names 11-man impeachment prosecution team

Aquino: We are at war with the Ombudsman

Merci: I am not at war with the President

Assistant Ombudsman: Merci not "at war" with PNoy

Ombudsman prosecutors seek Supreme Court intervention

STRADCOM: registration of fictitious vehicle done through "manipulation" by Land Transportation Office personnel, not because of a "corrupted" database

Government will not forgo claims on two recovery cases worth $68 million of assets of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos pending in courts in Singapore and New York

Noy doubles cash reward for model public servants

DILG: Pasig City officials were able to justify Boracay trip

SANDIGANBAYAN: Mendoza's audit not enough to pin Elenita Binay

Presidency respects Jalandoni's decision to resign

Sandiganbayan quashes 10 year old graft charge against VP's wife due to weak evidence

Surprise witnesses vs Merci during trial

OMBUDSMAN reveals that only nine of 39 government agencies given reminders for unliquidated cash advances posted 100 percent rate of reduction after the reminder.

SOLON: Spare no one in Boracay land probe

Mayor urges plunder raps vs brother

Department of Justice to look into government task force report showing apparent link between Land Transportation Office (LTO) information technology contractor Stradcom Corp. and carjacking syndicates

Mikey's firm sells Foster City home for $1.125M

House to pass Whistleblowers' Act in May

Malacañang is studying whether or not to pursue the administrative cases filed before it against Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni following his resignation last week.

Bishop hails Heidi Mendoza's appointment to COA

Ombudsman claims credit for money from sale of Ligots' US house

Baguio postmaster charged for malversation

Sandiganbayan freezes Ligots' assets

Sandiganbayan convictS former National Electrification Administration deputy administrator on graft and malversation charges for loss of government funds amounting to P85 million 11 years ago

Philippine Tax Agency Files Tax Evasion Complaint Vs Congressman Arroyo

Palace: Aquino gov't not targeting Arroyos -

WWII veterans dismayed over corruption in military

First ever: US delivers $132K from Ligot house sale

Church leaders, LGUs to sign covenant for good governance

COA employees express support for new chief

Sans Truth Commission, gov't still investigating anomalies

Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon faces complaint

Infanta Mayor insists there's no "jueteng" in her town

BIR files tax evasion charges against Rep. Mikey Arroyo and wife

Palace backs criminal charges vs Arroyo ally

DoJ gives Ligot couple 10 days to answer tax rap

Ombudsman orderS preventive suspension of revenue officer and customs operations officer, both of whom failed lifestyle checks and failed to report properties in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth

Prosecutors nix reopening Soriquez's graft trial

Ex-PH envoy wants arrest warrant deferred

Pichay disputes corruption allegations

Mendoza's COA appointment praised

Why Tan is COA chief only until 2015

Deputy ombudsman told: Don't be a Qaddafi

Commission on Elections Chairman denies trying to bribe or blackmail Senator or sending anyone to talk to senator in his behalf

Corona rallies lawyers

By REY G. PANALIGAN in Manila Bulletin - April 8, 2011

Chief Justice Renato C. Corona rallied the country’s more than 40,000 lawyers to prevent corruption from establishing its roots in the legal community.

“Educating our own ranks on the evil of corruption and recognizing those who personify the values of honesty and competence will strengthen the moral fiber of our profession and our nation as a whole,” Corona said.

The Chief Justice was guest speaker during the 13th national convention of lawyers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at the Subic Bay Convention Center. The convention theme was “Living up to the Standards of Integrity and Competence in the Legal Profession.”

He thanked the IBP for inviting him to address the country’s lawyers “at this time when burning issues, presently faced not just by the bar and the bench but also by the nation as a whole, call for nothing but the most united and concerted action on our part as allies of truth and justice and as supreme defenders of the rule of law.”

According to the Chief Justice, the lawyers as officers of the court should not only adhere to the law and the Constitution “but also champion individual rights, especially of the poor and the weak.”

He stressed that since lawyering is a public service more than anything else, “any act of justice we do exalts and magnifies our profession in the eyes of our people and in their trust and confidence in our democratic way of life.”

The IBP, he said, was set up almost four decades ago “to elevate the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice and enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.”

The values of integrity and competence, he said, were the ideals that pushed the Supreme Court to integrate the members of the law profession into a national body.

The Chief Justice reminded IBP members of their oath the first time they became lawyers – “to do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court... not to delay any man for money or malice....”

“Sadly, however, the years have hardened some of us in heart and in mind. Certain realities in legal practice can sometimes instill harsh and painful lessons and can even make it difficult to stay true to our oath as lawyers,” he lamented.

“Let us therefore go back in time and remind ourselves again of how we felt when we first stood before the justices of the Supreme Court years ago to recite that time-honored oath. All we need to do is to believe in ourselves and our God-given ability to live up to the greatness and nobility of our chosen profession,” he said.

An exception to the rule?

Why Indonesia's Anti-Corruption Commission succeeds where others don't

A comparison with the Philippines' Ombudsman

Emil P. Bolongaita (2010)

Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue)

 Download publication

Anti-corruption agencies have long been a principal strategy to fight corruption in many developing countries. Unfortunately, few of them have produced evident results and they are seen as being rather ineffective. Recently, however, the Corruption Eradication Commission of Indonesia (KPK) seems to have emerged as an exception. Can this success be substantiated and, if so, how can it be explained?

A comparison with another such institution in a very similar neighbouring country – the Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines – illustrates the KPK’s success especially in investigating and prosecuting corrupt public officials. Why was the KPK, in just five years, able to reach a 100% conviction rate against top officials in all major branches of the Indonesian government, while the Philippine Ombudsman has scored only few convictions in its 20-year history? Part of this success can be explained by considerable investigative powers given to KPK, which the Philippine Ombudsman does not hold. Also, rigorous pre-testing of every prosecution and a highly efficient anti-corruption court contribute to KPK’s success. These and other factors are analysed in this U4 Issue, which concludes with recommendations for donors and governments on the establishment and strengthening of anti-corruption agencies.

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IntegriViews
OPINION

These latest episodes show why graft and corruption are still rampant and cannot be eliminated here. Government officials are not afraid to commit graft and corruption believing that under our process, they can get away with them because the watchdogs seem to be not doing their job properly and with integrity. -- Jose C. Sison in The Philippine Star

...the Sandiganbayan (SB) dismissed charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against former Makati Mayor Elenita S. Binay "arising out of expenditures in 2000 and 2001 in connection with Makatis new (at the time) City Hall. The report quoted the SB's decision...as saying "This court remains in disbelief that the prosecution came to court with such SHODDY EVIDENCE, leaving us no alternative..."...Not content with dissing the prosecution, the SB also (according to the news report) gave the testimonies of state auditors little weight since "the court found that the audit procedure was also questionable in validating the prosecution's claim of excess purchase and overprice."...I have a copy of the report of the COA Special Task Force to Review and/or Audit Contracts involving Purchases and Infrastructure Projects of Local Government Units in Metro Manila (STFLGUs) on its "review/audit of contracts involving purchases of office partitions and furniture of the Makati City Government for the Years 2000 and 2001." The report and its annexes comprise a file more than an inch thick, incorporating the findings of the State Audit Team, the Comments of Management (read the Makati Mayor's Office), and the rejoinders of the team on the comments, plus of course, all the relevant supporting documents. The State Audit Team, by the way, was headed by State Auditor V Heidi L. Mendoza, who signed the report...I was impressed by the thoroughness of the investigation, and the careful documentation of every finding it made...Bottom line: the report...is a model of clarity, attention to detail, and investigative accounting. No questionable audit procedures were used. So when the SB finds fault with the "audit procedure" there is every reason to be suspicious -- not of the audit procedure, but of the SB, or the prosecution -- for not presenting its case well, or some combination of both. Which is it? At the very least, the case itself should be subjected to an audit, or case study -- if only to serve as an example of how the justice system in this country operates. -- Solita Collas-Monsod in Business World

A HOUSE divided cannot stand. This is the dilemma that the Commission on Audit is presently facing, days after President Aquino appointed Maria Gracia Tan as chairman of the agency. Post your online prayers for Japan earthquake victims Malacañang has billed Tan's appointment as a new dawn for the agency, which has been besieged by allegations of corruption, especially during the Senate investigation on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) scam where some government auditors were found to be in cahoots with some military officials. But things have turned contrary to what Malacañang is expecting. Now, Tan's appointment has created a big division between officials and employees of COA. Some concerned employees and officials of COA have expressed disappointment over Aquino's decision to put Tan in-charge of the agency, stressing that it diminishes the selfless efforts and dedication of the COA people. They are saying that there are COA career officials who are more than qualified to fill in the shoes...On the other side of the fence, members of the 8,000-strong Philippine Government Audit Service Employees Association (PHILGASEA) are in full support of Tan's appointment. They believe that Tan possesses the honesty, integrity, high moral standard and capability to lead COA to greater heights. -- Ismael A. Amigo in Sun Star, Cagayan de Oro

Impeachment: The peoples stake >>> The upcoming impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should bestir everyone who wishes to hold Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to account for all the harm and wrongdoing that she was responsible for during her nine long years of de facto rule. It is a circuitous but necessary route since Mrs. Gutierrez has used the Office of the Ombudsman to fend off, sabotage, and quash all suits against her benefactress, GMA, the latter's family members and other partners-in-crime. All other previous attempts to run after GMA and cohorts appear to have floundered and gone nowhere. President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino's election promise to go after the massive graft and corruption perpetrated at the highest levels during his predecessor's term had run aground when the much-ballyhooed Truth Commission he created was adjudged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court... It is only recently that Mr. Aquino has started to use the vast powers of the Executive, such as the Tax Bureau, to flush out one of the Arroyo childrens hidden wealth. We have yet to see him utilize the Justice Department to undertake case buildup in some of the most notorious graft and corruption cases that hounded the Arroyo regime...Ombudsman Gutierrez's conviction should pave the way for GMA and her cohorts arrest, prosecution, and punishment for plunder and other crimes against the people. Herein is a question of justice, of restitution, and of serving a long-overdue lesson to all abusive, corrupt, and anti-people leaders who think they can get away with their crimes. Truly, it constitutes a blow against impunity of the worst type because it is impunity by persons in the highest levels of authority. They have used their powerful positions, not just to commit crimes but to cover these up and evade punishment. They in turn use their ill-gotten riches to further enrich themselves, advance their political careers, deodorize their public image, and remove any social stigma that rightfully has been attached to their names... People's organizations, reform groups, and other concerned citizens must exert every effort to transform the people's cries for justice into a powerful political storm that will convince all and sundry, the senators first of all, that there can be no other just verdict but conviction and removal from office of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. -- Carol Pagaduan-Araullo in Business World

Many people don't realize that the birth of a driver comes with the severest of labor pains: getting a driver's license the legit way. The process has become a joke these days with "negotiations" and "favors" made possible by the many methods of convenience that arise within a highly inconvenient bureaucracy, but I submit to you that for as long as we are obsessed with getting things fast and easy, no matter how much we complain, we will never help this country get better. Integrity as a nation starts with integrity among individuals. And integrity is awfully inconvenient. If you cannot take it, if you prefer to bribe or cheat your way to anything, even something as small as a driver's license, guess what: this country is better off without you. -- AVERILL PIZARRO in Manila Bulletin

The rap filed against Local Waterworks and Utilities Authority (LWUA) chairman Prospero Pichay expectedly will drag in court. All do. This complicated one involves graft, malversation, and breach of banking rules. But the immediate question is, can the government retrieve at once the half-billion pesos in LWUA money that Pichay allegedly gave away? It's part of scant funds needed to stave off the looming food and water crisis...The graft allegedly was in Pichay's signing a transaction grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government. The malversation was for misuse of the P400 million allotted for LWUA lending. -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

P1 billion down the drain: [COA] auditor...unearthed expenses or disbursements fit only for an Oriental potentate. With one difference: Tax money approved by Congress and supported by taxpayers was definitely and wantonly wasted. Among the findings of the special audit team: >>> 1) ARMM, which includes the poorest LGUs in the country, had ignored laws and misused tax money with disbursements of P1 billion for visibly questionable transactions; >>> 2) tax money received by the Office of the Regional Governor was not properly utilized but mismanaged; >>> 3) transactions worth P1.003 billion were supported by spurious documents; >>> 4) transactions amounting to P741 M may be fictitious as shown by spurious documents, >>> 5) P866.5 M was spent in the form of cash advances in violation of a rule that payments be made by check, and without a specific purpose, in big amounts all in one day; >>> 6) P741 M was disbursed to buy relief goods, medicines, and office supplies; >>> 7) suppliers of P393.8 M worth of transactions all denied doing business with ARMM; >>> 8) it was not shown that the purchases in No. 7 were necessary or the items were distributed; >>> 9) transactions costing P347 M were "delivered" by unlicensed suppliers, not qualified to do business with the government; >>> 10) ARMM spent P5.3 M for the travel of one official and his bodyguards but 12 of them were not government employees. >>> The final insult: ARMM paid P29 M for the upkeep of an office in a posh neighborhood in Metro Manila. -- ATTY. ROMEO V. PEFIANCO in Manila Nulletin

...hopes are rising that the all-out campaign against corruption - the standard under which the Aquino presidency's election mandate was won - has finally been launched. The Inquirer editorial yesterday spoke of the possibility of a genuine "momentum" in the war on corruption, but only if the charges and first legal victories are closely followed by others of the same kind. I think, however, that more people will see the momentum as real only if President Benigno Aquino III also applies the same pressure on political allies who either violate the law or are guilty of grievous under-performance...The target of the all-out war on corruption must be whoever is corrupt or who enables corruption through gross incompetence, regardless of political affiliation. The Aquino administration, in fact, should expect much higher standards from its own officials...

I know that corruption exist in every part of the world but why does it need to get in the way of improving public services. Why do the leaders allow corruption to thrive? In fact, right now as the taxes are collected, many tax collectors are stealing money from the people or from the government. They are continuing to enrich themselves even under the watchful eyes of this new administration. Something is very wrong. Why cant they seem to catch these punks? In other words, we feel cheated by government and by our public servants. Even if many government employees feel that they have worked hard and have not have been corrupt in the service, the bottom line is that the people feel betrayed, cheated and victimized. Our government workers cannot afford to be meek. They shouldn't protect the corrupt in their offices. They should protect the rights of the people. In doing so, they protect their families as well. They should realize that "honesty is the best policy." -- Sara Soliven De Guzman in The Philippine Star

In the context of the fight against corruption, the first of two principal planks on which President Benigno Aquino III based his entire campaign platform,[a]...point is reached when the public sees that the momentum in the fight is real. Is the recovery of the Ligot property in Buena Park, California, only one of several they own, part of a campaign that includes the filing of tax evasion charges against Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, the filing of criminal and administrative charges against former congressman Prospero Pichay and four others for the "highly irregular and anomalous" cash infusion by the Local Water Utilities Administration in a Laguna thrift bank, not least the impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez? If it is, and if we can expect more such cases or legal milestones in the coming days, then the Aquino administration can rely for solid support on public opinion. In other words: This is a first, but we certainly hope it isn't the last. -- Editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer

What can P-Noy do to fulfill his campaign promise of cleaning up government? The roadblocks along his path are not just the Office of the Ombudsman and a corrupt criminal justice system, but also an entrenched culture where the bureaucracy runs efficiently only when palms are greased...tolerance - and the impunity of the corrupt - can be attributed in large part to the failure of the state to prosecute crooks, especially the big fish. Certain systems and procedures that provided opportunities for corruption have been changed, but many of the old ways remain in various agencies. Since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, corruption has been loudly denounced in this country, then forgotten and forgiven, with unrepentant crooks even being rewarded with high public office. The only lesson that their stories offer is that if you're going to steal, it's better to steal big, because then you have bigger chances of getting away with everything. As the latest surveys indicate, the majority of Filipinos are still expecting that with help from various sectors, P-Noy can change this and deliver on his campaign promise. -- Ana Marie Pamintuan in The Philippine Star

Sadly corruption here has come close to being accepted by all as a way of life. This is why the Philippines continues to fare poorly - being at the bottom of about 30 countries - in the yearly rating by the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International. -- ROSULO in Cantanduanes Tribune

Professor (Michael) Johnston proposes the fight against corruption to be conceived primarily as the fight of the people themselves for their own self-interest. "If citizens," Johnston suggests, "come to see reform as benefiting them in their daily lives, and see improved living conditions over time, the formidable energies of the Philippine people can become a steady force demanding better government." In short, people power. The people themselves must join in corruption struggle. His suggestion proceeds from his basic insight that corruption in the Philippines falls under the category of what he calls the "Oligarchs and Clans" syndrome. This syndrome is one of four kinds identified by Johnston, the other three being (a) Influence Markets, as exemplified by the corruption in the United States, Germany and Japan; (b) Elite Cartels, as found in South Korea, Italy and Botswana; and (c) Official Moguls, of China, Indonesia and Kenya. The particular character of the Oligarchs and Clans syndrome is that it is "a situation in which significant and growing political and economic opportunities abound in a setting of weak institutions. Corruption, under those circumstances, tends to be dominated by the dealings of a relatively small number of powerful figures and their personal followings." The oligarchs and clans, having as they do "deep roots in Philippine geography, history and society" have followings and adherents interested in maintaining their position in the status quo. "Where oligarch-and-clan corruption is serious, people at many levels of society live in a setting of pervasive insecurity marked by economic uncertainties, weak property rights, shaky civil liberties and political rights, powerful but unaccountable elites in politics and the economy and, all too often, all-too-imminent threats of violence." Hence, it is resistant to reform. -- Ricardo Romulo in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Don't expect this to be a walk in the park. The government, under new management, has been going after officials suspected of corruption in a way that might actually work: through their tax payment deficiencies. But because the most accomplished crooks are those who have amassed the largest amounts illegally, they can be expected to hire the most expensive lawyers and accountants and put up a spirited fight, to defend their wealth if not their name. Aware of this, revenue officials and prosecutors of the Department of Justice must make sure they have airtight cases against public officials past and present as well as moneyed and influential individuals who face charges for tax evasion. Going after the tax payments of the corrupt is a good option for the government in the absence of a law similar to the one in the United States against racketeering-influenced and corrupt organizations, and with the Office of the Ombudsman sitting on large-scale corruption cases. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

If what they say of GMA and her allies are true, then it follows that they will have every reason to defend themselves and they will have vast resources and cash to mount not only a legal defense but even destabilize the government, or start another "mini civil war". If they did it to Erap, they will do it to P-Noy. Unlike Erap who dealt with a crushed ego, a sense of national betrayal and a burning desire to be cleared of the many accusations hurled against him, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the other hand never gave much time to self pity nor did she ever tolerate pity parties among those around her. She will go all out with her maternal and political instincts of self-preservation. The only possible risk to her would be having to choose between supporting an ally or defending herself. If she can dump or "lag-lag" allies, chances are, this will also be the end of her. Without a doubt, we may now be at the beginning of "interesting times". If the Aquino administration follows the path of least resistance by piling legal cases only, then in all probability, nothing will ever be settled during the Aquino administration. If the administration decides on a full court press complete with non-bailable detentions, hold departure orders and seizures and freezing of assets, within the next 12 months, I am almost certain that P-Noy will have more to worry about than his ratings, which I predict will plummet even further thanks to price hikes in electricity etc. -- Cito Beltran in The Philippine Star

There are three things that I would like to see Aquino do: >>> First, he should appoint competent and honest people to help him govern the country. >>> He should hire people not on the basis of friendship, his relatives, or campaign contributions but on qualifications. His appointment of Heidi Mendoza as commissioner in the Commission on Audit is a good move. The government needs the likes of Mendoza, former COA auditor, who defied attempts by her superiors and colleagues to keep under the rug the evidence against former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, whom the Ombudsman set free under a controversial plea bargain agreement...>>> Aquino should also show the people that he is serious about being president. He should start the day early. -- ELLEN TORDESILLAS in Malaya

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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!
 
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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.

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