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TOP NEWS

Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
Presidential Commission Found Violating Audit Law

It appears the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (PCVFA) – an agency sitting within the Office of the President -- prevented the COA from doing an audit...

State Auditor Adela Dondonilla stated that “we are supposed to audit the Balance Sheet of the PCVFA as of December 31, 2010 and the related Statements of Income and Expenses and Cash Flows of 2010. However, in view of your failure to submit relevant documents...we were not able to conduct the necessary audit.” ...

COA has pointed out, the PCVFA’s “utilization of funds in 2010 could not be determined...due to non-submission of finance reports, reports of financial transactions, monthly reports of checks issued and supporting documents; and to maintain books of accounts.”...

This is quite peculiar since the PCVFA had a relatively small allocation for 2010 – PhP 7.088 million (USD 168,762) that laymen consider quite easy to manage and audit. But so far, there had been no submissions or audit. This is a black smear on the Office of the President.

INQUIRER

Poll fixers going out of business

Election fixers, that select group of poll workers with unique talents for addition and subtraction, may soon swell the ranks of the unemployed in the Philippines.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Monday said there was no going back to the old, manual election in the country, with its problems of dagdag-bawas (vote-padding and -shaving), election “operators,” and ballot-switching. “I can assure the Filipino people that we will no longer go back to manual. If we go back to manual, the operators will again have a fiesta. We will not allow that,”...

This means poll cheaters will now have “fewer livelihood” opportunities...Brillantes said election lawyers, too, “will be saddened.” “They will no longer have a livelihood postelection,” he said, referring to the numerous election protests filed by election law practitioners on behalf of losing candidates who never seem to concede defeat...

Brillantes said he only saw two methods of manipulating automated elections: by intimidation and vote-buying.

 

MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB MEMBER SURVEY
Corruption in Government in past 12 months has been:
REDUCED >>> 53%
NOT REDUCED >>> 38%

Business expects the economy to perform better over the next 12 months due to the improved business climate and reduction of corruption, the Executive Outlook Survey for the second semester this year conducted by the Makati Business Club shows...

Slightly above half, 53 percent, said corruption in government has been reduced over the past 12 months while 38 percent said the incidence of corruption has not gone down.

A great majority (80 percent) of the respondents said graft and corruption charges should be pursued against Arroyo, while 8 percent said charges should not pursued...

The Ombudsman, the Sandiganbayan, the appeals and lower courts, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Customs received the lowest net satisfaction scores for their performance...

 
 

MALAYA

Ombudsman posts 17.9% conviction rate for first half of 2011

Of 318 persons prosecuted by the anti-graft body, 57 were convicted mostly on graft and malversation charges, including two who pleaded guilty.

The Sandiganbayan acquitted 144 accused, dismissed cases against 95 for lack of evidence or defective indictments, and ordered 19 into the archives in cases where defendants remain at large...

The latest report is actually a 47 percent improvement from the Ombudsman’s 12 percent conviction rate for the whole of 2010 when it achieved only 30 convictions in 247 cases.

 

MALAYA
hits Solon hits Customs on smuggling

VALENZUELA City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo (Second District) lambasted the Bureau of Customs for its failure to contain the smuggling of 2,219 container vans consigned to three importers from January to May 2011 with an estimated value of P2 billion.

In a hearing the House sub-committee on Customs Matters last week presided by Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, Gunigundo lamented that the smuggling happened despite the implementation of the E2M Phase 4 Customs System that facilitates the monitoring of the movement of transshipment goods in the three major ports...

Gunigundo said that no matter how costly and sophisticated the Customs systems technology is, it will not prevent smuggling if it is operated by customs officials with "wangwang" mentality.

Gunigundo also decried the failure of the Office of the Customs Commissioner to supervise and act on the anomaly despite the bank of computers manned by a certain Cesar Manuel , allegedly an executive assistant and trusted man of Commissioner Angelito Alvarez.

INQUIRER
DEPUTY HOUSE MINORITY LEADER WON'T APOLOGIZE, INSISTS ON EXPLANATION

Deputy Minority Leader and Zambales Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay will not apologize to Secretary Ricky Carandang for bringing up the issue of his allegedly overpriced purchase of Apple computers without a public bidding.

Instead, Magsaysay wants Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), to explain how two biddings for a common item like computers could fail and to justify the negotiated purchase of the Apple products for P1.6 million that a militant group said was extravagant.

“I think he should be the one who should explain and prove that the government got the best deal for the computers and that a negotiated bidding was the only way he could get the best deal...”

...the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has joined Magsaysay in demanding an explanation from Carandang.

“If Mr. Carandang only checked the Internet, there are a lot of laptop brands that his office could buy between P20,000 and P30,000 per unit—P20,000 is 200 percent cheaper than P67,000. A P30,000 laptop is more than 100 percent cheaper than a P67,000 laptop..." Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said...

Hicap said the government could have saved between P880,000 and P1.2 million if it had bought a lower-priced computer brand.

Carandang had said the government saved money since the Apple computers were acquired at below market price, which he said was P75,000 each.

MALAYSIAN LEADER PRAISES AQUINO FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said many of his countrymen look up to the Philippines for its efforts to resolve corruption and election fraud. In an interview, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia said he admires President Benigno Aquino's campaign to weed out deep-seated corruption, and his move to investigate allegations of fraud in previous elections. "What, to my mind, is very important is that all leaders come and go. They come with this promise of anti-corruption, but many, unfortunately, are very badly tainted by ill-gotten wealth and corruption. Here comes a new president who seems to be very determined and people are waiting for clear tough execution," he said.

CHIEF JUSTICE ON JUDICIAL REFORM

With the help of the United States Agency for International Development and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, the Supreme Court launched the Strengthening the Integrity of the Judiciary (SIJ) program. We conducted a systematic examination of our integrity measures and identified institutional weaknesses impinging on the over-all judicial performance. We then assessed our court functions in terms of their vulnerability to corruption and took preventive actions against potential corruption. We held consultative meetings with court employees and concerned stakeholders such as prosecutors, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and non-governmental organizations.

The SIJ program led to the review, revision and/or implementation of new rules of procedures and manuals on Whistleblowing, Comprehensive Procurement Plan, Performance Management System for Court Personnel, Code of Conduct for Court Personnel, Financial Matters and Numerical Evaluation System for Appointments and Promotions.

Through its administrative supervisory powers, the Supreme Court has also taken disciplinary action against erring court officers and employees, lawyers, judges and justices, even if they have already retired from the Judiciary. The retirement pay and other benefits of court officials and employees with pending cases are withheld until these cases are resolved and, in case of guilt, the appropriate fines are deducted from them. Drug testing for all court employees is now mandatory...

Hand in hand with the measures to prevent or at least minimize corruption, to reward exemplary officials and employees and to discipline those who have not kept faith with their oaths of office, the upgrading of skills, knowledge and competency in the law has received special emphasis under my stewardship.

BIR WARNING: The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Friday warned anew the public on the modus operandi of extortion syndicates demanding money from unsuspecting taxpayers in exchange for fixing their tax problems with the bureau. Revenue Deputy Commissioner for Operations Nelson M Aspe issued the warning amid reports reaching his office that fake tax examiners threaten legitimate business establishments with either closure, or filing of tax evasion charges if they refuse to come across. One such reports concerned the alleged issuance of surveillance operations by the Quezon City revenue region against a firm which reportedly underdeclared its sales. The documents turned out to be allegedly fake and the names of revenue officers who appeared in the paper were fictitious.

RULES BROKEN IN HELICOPTER DEAL: Senate investigators believe that someone very powerful dictated upon the Philippine National Police (PNP) the overpriced purchase in 2009 of used helicopters passed off as brand new. This is because the 27 mostly generals and colonels involved broke all the rules on government procurements, from bidding to acceptance to payment...Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile says that two "public" biddings were simulated to fail as early as 2008. This enabled the officers to negotiate instead "behind closed doors" for the acquisition in July 2009...two failed biddings gave the officers reason for negotiated purchase of the three brand new "light police observation helicopters"...

STAR
Development Bank of the Philippines files graft raps over P650-M Philex deal...suicidee "not critical to investigation"

The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) on Friday filed a criminal complaint of graft and violation of banking laws against 25 past and current officers and three private persons in connection with the grant of questionable over half-a-billion-peso loans approved in one day during then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.

Among those named in the complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman were a former Trade Minister; former DBP president; former DBP chief operating officer; and 8 former DBP directors. The complaint was signed by Jose Nuņez and Franciso del Rosario Jr., DBP chair and president, respectively.

The case stemmed from DBP’s grant of  P510-million and P150-million loans to Delta Ventures Resources Inc. (DVRI), allegedly with undue haste and in violation of its own lending policies, as well as Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas regulations. The P510-million loan was also used by DVRI to purchase 50 million of DBP shares of stock in Philex Mining Co.

The investigation of the transactions allegedly spurred a DBP documentation lawyer, Benjamin Pinpin, 43, to take his own life on Tuesday.

In a press briefing, DBP president and chief executive officer Francisco del Rosario Jr. said the government financial institution has already submitted the results of an audit investigation regarding supposed irregular transactions involving Philex Mining Corp...

The administrative charges are in relation to violations of DBP regulations as well as banking rules of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Del Rosario declined to identify those implicated in the audit report. He also revealed that there are two more investigations being conducted related to anomalous transactions in the bank...

...the DBP said that Benjamin Pinpin, a member of the bank’s legal office who committed suicide last Tuesday, was not a critical element to the investigation. “He was one of 20 persons who were part of the investigation, and he was merely in the collating portion,” Del Rosario said. He also said that the latest findings confirmed that Pinpin’s death was self-inflicted and that it was not “under suspicious circumstances.”...

SENATOR WANTS FULL AUDIT OF PAGCOR: Senator Ralph Recto has filed a bill amending the Charter of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to allow full government audit of its revenues, income and expenditures. Under the present Charter of Pagcor, government audit is limited only to the 5 percent franchise tax and the 50 percent net government share of winnings. "The public finds itself unapprised of the financial status of Pagcor...Moreover, the funds of PAGCOR is considered an off-budget item and not included among those evaluated during public hearings on the General Appropriations Bill, hence it is devoid of any Congressional scrutiny," he said.

COA FINDS YEARLY FUND IRREGULARITIES AT PAGCOR: The Commission on Audit (COA) yesterday uncovered various fund irregularities at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). State auditors said it was during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly from 2005 to 2009, that Pagcor allegedly committed misuse of government money mostly for the benefit of its own officials and employees. In 2009, COA questioned Pagcor's purchase of 66 condominium units in the amount of P267.9 million, which state auditors said was "unnecessary and not properly supported with documents."

nopork.jpg

MANILA BULLETIN

Scrap pork barrel, solon urges

A progressive solon Wednesday called for the scrapping of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more popularly known as pork barrel, to stop Malacaņang from using it as its “carrot and stick.”

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiņo proposed that the allocation of the P70-million pork barrel fund should be totally scrapped since it has been politicized.

“The allocation of the pork barrel funds has been used as a political tool. It has been used as a carrot and stick by Malacaņang. Kung pwede nga lang wala na lang pork barrel since ang Malacaņang at Department of Budget and Management ang nakakaalam,” he told reporters.

Minority lawmakers, led by Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, boycotted the budget hearings to protest the purported deliberate delay in the release of opposition solons’ PDAF.

Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV earlier said he is willing to kneel down before President Aquino to beg for his pork barrel allocation.

Casiņo said Malacaņang should not make the pork barrel issue as its main concern after President Aquino’s commitment that all congressmen will receive their PDAF regardless of their party affiliation.

He said instead of getting their PDAF, all congressmen should lay down all its projects during the budget deliberations to ensure transparency.

This developed as a party-list congressman is facing graft charges for allegedly using part of his pork barrel allocation to build a hotel in a privately-owned resort in Laguna.

In a complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Rene Estrada also claimed that Ating Koop party-list Rep. Isidro Lico spent P30,000 of the congressional funds to help finance a protest rally against the controversial Reproductive Health bill.

CUSTOMS PLANS GOODS TRANSSHIPMENT BAN: The Bureau of Customs (BoC) Wednesday said it is planning to ban the transshipment of goods from one port to another. Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the BoC may impose a ban on transshipment operations as a measure to stop its abuse. "It may be a major source of tax leakage and smuggling," he said.

PRESIDENT TO CANCELL 66 RORO PROJECTS: President Aquino yesterday declared that he would cancel the contracts for 66 out of the 72 roll-on roll-off (RORO) ports considered as among the flagship projects of the former President...Aquino said the Philippines does not need 72 RORO ports because these have apparently been made as a source of corruption for government officials, especially since there will be no more warranty for contractors once these ports are built in typhoon-prone areas. Each port costs around P218 million, when such could only cost P91 million, leaving P127 million to corruption...

SENATOR RESIGNS AMID ELECTION FRAUD ACCUSATIONS: Long bedeviled by accusations that his was an election victory won through fraud, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri surprised the nation yesterday by announcing his resignation. In a privilege speech that turned out to be his last, Zubiri said he had to quit to protect his honor and integrity, as well as spare his family from further anguish.

Read resignation speech: "Honor and Integrity" by Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri

________________________________________________________

Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project

COA: More Millionaire Government Officials Discovered, More Digging Still to Do

If this government takes the cue from the leads provided by the COA in its latest ROSA, another slew of graft and plunder cases are in the offing. Those who are found to have taken millions illegally should be prosecuted immediately before they cover up or worse, fly the coop.

The most famous auditor of the country has a new bombshell with the just released “2010 Report on Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) Received by Principal Officers and Members of Governing Boards of Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and their Subsidiaries and Secretaries, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries and Other Officials of Equivalent Rank of National Government Agencies (NGAs).”

Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said in the introduction to the 900-page report that the objective is “to promote transparency in government by monitoring the annual salaries and allowances received by government officials holding high and/or multiple positions as well as determine the total amount of emoluments and benefits received by them from different state agencies/instrumentalities with which they are affiliated.”...

Another curious item...is that of former Angeles City Water District General Manager Calara. He received PhP 8,727,857 (USD 212,874) in EME and discretionary funds and PhP 5 million (USD 121,951) in confidential/intelligence funds. This is the first time that a water district official landed in the Top 10 list of ROSA since the COA started this report in 1992...

...the 2010 ROSA reveals to the Filipino people that this where our monies go: to enrich a list of government officials to the tune of millions.

RETIREES TAPPED AS "GRAFT BUSTERS": Participatory auditing is eyed by the Commission on Audit as a measure to finally eradicate corrupt practices in government projects. Commission on Audit Commissioner Heidi Mendoza in a forum at the University of the Cordilleras Saturday stressed localized graft watch composed of retired government officials have been proven to eliminate corrupt practices and ensure the quality of projects being implemented by government. Mendoza, a former whistleblower on corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said this grassroots approach in identifying graft and corruption in project implementation areas is deemed effective as the community members perform the audit. This is an answer to the passive citizens who rely mostly on state officials like auditors to identify irregularities in government projects and transactions, she said. She said this is a new project of COA to engage citizens in auditing government projects like road constructions where citizens may give information to state auditors on irregularities in the conduct of road repairs such as supply sufficiency or lack of manpower.

 

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STAR

Suppliers say Mike Arroyo owned helicopters

 The suppliers of the helicopters that were sold to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009 implicated former first gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo during yesterday’s Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing.

The revelation of two businessmen who were grilled by the senators paved the way for the committee to invite Arroyo to the next hearing.

However, Arroyo’s lawyer said there was nothing in the Senate inquiry that would incriminate his client on allegations that he pressured the PNP into purchasing his helicopters and passed them off as brand-new.

Lion Air Inc. owner Archibald Po revealed that he personally delivered $700,000 to the former first gentleman in his law office at the LTA Building in Makati City on April 16, 2010.

The amount represented the payment for two Raven helicopters priced at $350,000 each, Arroyo’s selling price for each unit...

The senators found the amount exorbitant since the price of five-year old Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters is only between $260,000 to $280,000 per unit.

Hilario de Vera, Maptra president and general manager, also claimed that Po received P3.505 million for what he demanded as commission for his “extra efforts” in the sale.

He admitted that they split P7 million as part of the deal.

Amid questions of overpricing, de Vera said no PNP officials benefited from the deal in terms of commissions...

SUNSTAR
Ex-First Gentleman’s lawyer to sue LionAir president

The camp of Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is set to file criminal charges against LionAir Inc. president Archibald Po for perjury, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Innocencio Ferrer Jr. said Po failed to present documents that would link him to the anomalous sale of used helicopters to the Philippine National Police (PNP) during a seven-hour Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing Tuesday.

The name and signature of the former First Gentleman was not indicated in the documents he presented to the senators, Ferrer said.

"The affidavit and Senate testimony of Mr. Archibald Po are nothing but a litany of self-serving perjurious statements against our client," Ferrer said in a statement.

"First and foremost, it is denied that Arroyo owned the said helicopters. There is no truth to the blank deeds of sale purportedly executed by Mr. Po. Furthermore, no evidence was even attached in the affidavit to support Mr. Po's claim that Arroyo owned the said helicopters," he added...

Read Inquirer article "There's no arroyo in documents"

GOVERNMENT TO MAKE BUDGET MORE TRANSPARENT: The Aquino administration is instituting reforms to ensure transparency in the use of government funds. Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad said among these reforms are the use of purchase cards for cashless transactions in government, which will be pilot-tested in key agencies... The use of these cards is expected to "diminish the inefficiencies and leakages that come with too many people handling money," the budget chief said. Abad said these cards would also ensure "instant liquidation" and "lighten" the administrative load on vouchers and address the delay in the liquidation of expenses. "There will be no more need for cash advances," he said.

COA COMMISSIONER HEIDI MENDOZA:

Corruption not related with government form

AUDIT Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said any particular form of government is not a reason for breeding corruption among public officials.

In a forum at the University of the Cordilleras on July 30, Mendoza said there is no direct relationship between an autonomous government and corruption, citing doubts of several sectors an autonomous Cordillera will experience the same troubles hounding the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

The Armm over the years has bred corrupt practices among its local officials resulting in the stagnated growth of the struggling region.

Mendoza, a former state auditor turned whistleblower in the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, claimed corruption is abuse of power and the privatization of something, which must be public.

And this she said can happen in any form of government as long as the public keeps silent and remain ignorant of its existence.

However, she said it has been difficult to thwart corruption, especially in the government, because many continue to become passive officials who simply ignore corruption and accept it as a fact of life.

What is more challenging, especially for Commission on Audit officials, is not petty administrative corruption, which most public officials face everyday, but political corruption...

She advised people coming up with the draft on the autonomy bill to come up with as many safety nets in all transactions to prevent corruption from spreading from the top level to the grassroots.

GMA NEWS TV
Government offices told to use centralized e-procurement system
 
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered all government agencies to use the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) in all their procurement activities.

On July 28, Aquino signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 17 which directs government offices to source all their common-use supplies directly from the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or from its regional depots throughout the country.

In a press statement issued on Monday, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said common-use supplies refer to office supplies like bond paper, ballpens, pencils, and ink, which eat up about P19.5 billion of the government’s annual spending package.

"With a centralized supply purchasing system, the Budget Department has estimated that the government stands to save as much as P6 billion a year," Ochoa said.

MANILA STANDARD

Pre-audit of govt deals scrapped

 

The Commission on Audit will do away with its policy of requiring government agencies to secure its approval before they embark on their projects that will entail public funds.

Audit chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan disclosed the scrapping of the pre-audit policy during the forum, Communications and News Exchange at the Philippine Information Agency in Quezon City.

Tan said that Commissioners Juanito Espino Jr. and Heidi Mendoza have agreed to the phase-out of the pre-audit procedures on transactions as well as projects of government agencies that are “not fiscally responsible or mature.”

“We decided there is no need to apply the pre-audit,” Tan told reporters, saying that state agencies must be left to their own devices, unhampered by a policy that defeats the purpose of check and balance...

She said the pre-audit defeats the purpose of check and balance. “How can we review, assess and uncover mistakes in government transactions, which had been approved by the commission itself? In modern institutions, pre-audit is no longer practical,” she said.

She said CoA must not meddle in the decision-making of government agencies in their transactions and projects. “Government agencies must be independent enough to discipline themselves in spending wisely,” she said.

INQUIRER

‘Jose Miguel Arroyo owned helicopters’

Businessman to testify in Senate probe

Two five-year old helicopters sold as brand new to the Philippine National Police in 2009 were among the five choppers that then First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo acquired for the campaign of his wife, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the 2004 presidential election.

This was disclosed by a businessman, who was privy to the sale of the helicopters to Mike Arroyo in late 2003. The businessman is scheduled to appear as a witness at a hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee ...

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said the witness got in touch with him last week and presented documents, including copies of the record of payments made by Arroyo from December 2003 to March 2004.

Estrada said the witness, a well-known personality in the aviation industry, told him that the five helicopters—all Robinson R44 Raven Is with Series Nos. 1370 to 1374—were purchased for use in the 2004 election campaign of then President Arroyo...

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COMMISSION ON AUDIT ANNOUNCEMENTS

COA to liaise with Ombudsman to make big cases airtight

“The rules of evidence are very, very important when it concerns the cases now in the Ombudsman. That is why we conduct cross training with the prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and our auditors and investigators in the Commission on Audit (COA) in the correct handling of documents and evidence,” chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan of COA emphasized during the recently concluded Communication and News Exchange Forum or CNEX at the Philippine Information Agency.

“In fact, we ensure that we package the documents and evidence correctly, so that it would stand in court,” the chairperson added.

Chairperson Pulido-Tan explained that, “I have already talked to Ombudsman Morales and we agreed that we will meet again in the next few weeks, to find out her directions and thrusts, but I will also ask her to prioritize the cases that COA submitted, because there are already big cases that are pending in the Office of the Ombudsman."

COA and the Office of the Ombusman have signed a memorandum of agreement in 2010 that the two agencies will cooperate and coordinate in handling cases wherein COA is a key element and are the ones who are supplying the evidence regarding certain cases.

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COA saves P5.3 billion worth of transactions

The Commission on Audit (COA) revealed P5.3 billion worth of funds saved from government transactions by its 7,000 auditors nationwide.

COA chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan announced the commission’s efforts to filter transactions made by government at the Communication and News Exchange Forum held at the Philippine Information Agency.

The chairperson said that the COA pre-audit had screened 500,000 transactions involving a total of P535 billion. About 87 percent of these transactions were approved outright while 12 percent were approved after submitting needed requirements to push through with the transactions.

One percent of the total or P5.3B-worth of transactions were denied by COA auditors. She stated that the 87 percent immediate approval rate indicates a high level of responsibility within government offices.



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COA exploring ways to monitor use of Intelligence Funds

 COA chair Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan shared that the commission has an ongoing review on the use of Intelligence Funds by government agencies. “”Hanggang ngayon, I refuse to audit Intelligence Funds. Ang ginagawa lang muna namin ngayon, sige submit sila ng liquidation, mga resibo sa COA.”

Tan explained that current auditing rules allow heads of government institutions to merely issue a certification on items spent for “Intelligence Purposes,” and does not require them to declare anything else.

However, the chairperson recognizes the importance of keeping the confidentiality of the Intelligence Funds. “We are aware na meron talagang mga gastusin na kapag na-disclose ay pwedeng makompromiso naman ang ating seguridad – the national interest, the national security,” Tan said.

Despite this, COA has plans to integrate measures in auditing policies that will ensure transparency and good governance in the utilization of intelligence funds.

 

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HEADLINES

*** ARMM NEEDS "GHOSTBUSTER"*** Catholic priest, expert on Mindanao autonomy has unsolicited advice to President - Appoint a "ghostbuster"... able to bust ghost teachers, ghost employees, ghost projects, ghost schools, ghost roads and bridges, ghost voters and many other ghosts working in the region and raking in people's money

Government lawyers ask Sandiganbayan to seize three Metro Manila properties belonging to former first lady Imelda Marcos in lieu of P10 million representing ill-gotten funds she refuses to pay.

Development Bank of the Philippines probe on transactions conducted "by the book", could not be called "overzealous" as detractors claimed

UP-Los Baños got preowned vehicles from Pagcor

Former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca protests Ombudsman's filing of graft and malversation charges against her, saying this was done without first resolving motion for reconsideration she had earlier filed

PALACE: ...present administration is not singling out the Arroyos in its fight against graft and corruption amid the number of cases filed recently against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, other members of their family and their allies..."This is not out of vengeance, this is out of making accountable what happened to taxpayers' money during the past administration,"

Ex-PAGCOR chief denies raps for P26.7 million production of movie "Baler" in 2008 malversation raps

P660-M Loans extended by Development Bank of the Philippines to company of Roberto V. Ongpin were secured by collateral worth over twice value of transaction says businessman

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. lost some P160 million to three members of a foreign gambling syndicate who were able to leave the country despite a hold departure order on them, officials of the state-gaming agency confirmed

Mike Arroyo returns from Hong Kong, sneers at President Aquino's antigraft slogan, threatens legal action against businessman who linked him to anomalous purchase of used helicopters by police during his wife's presidency...denies having any hand in the purchase...reads a seven-page statement rebutting his critics

Graftbusters cite quantum of evidence against businessman, a co-accused of former President in 2001 P4.1-billion plunder case

National Bureau of Investigation steps into case of 2,219 container vans suposed to have entered port of Manila but only 309 reached destination port of Batangas

Mindanao Ombudsman suspenda post office employee in Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur for malversing more than P50,000 cash collection

President promises equipment bought under his administration will be brand new, not overused by so-called rulers.

Mike Arroyo returns, denies owning used choppers

Bills filed to amend Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office charter following alleged fund misuse

Caloocan City Mayor Recom Echiverri submits documents to Government Service Insurance System to disprove allegations he failed to remit over P300 million in employees' contributions

Department of Public Works and Highways partners with Bantay Lansangan, a partnership that seeks to mobilize a multi-sectoral group composed of non-government, private stakeholders, and official development partners, in effort to eradicate or reduce vulnerabilities of corruption

Ex-Pagcor execs seek lifting of hold departure order against them

Pagcor money showered on Los Baños

Senator pushee for immediate passage of bill creating Office of Cybercrime to deal with syndicates using information technology to commit illegal acts

AFTER A DECADE OF INVESTIGATION, the Office of the Ombudsman has finally ordered the dismissal from government service of 24 officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) who were tagged in the vehicle repair anomaly of 2001

Germany backs fight vs graft but wants Fraport issue settled

Lawmaker exposes "midnight pork barrel" during Arroyo administration

Critic of Aquino government likens Secretary of Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office to Imelda Marcos for buying expensive laptops worth P67,000 each...there are a lot of... laptops...between P20,000 to P30,000 per unit...government could have saved as much as P880,000 to P1.2 million

Supplier of controversial rubber boats and outboard motors purchased by Philippine National Police in 2009 explains to investigators that it had faithfully followed PNP's specifications when supplied

Solon wants GMA "midnight pork barrel" probed

CUSTOMS MYSTERY DEEPENS: Twelve Customs officials are facing inquiry over the case of 1,910 container vans that were supposed to have entered the port of Manila from January to May, but only 309 of them reached the port of Batangas, their final destination.

Former provincial district engineer, who filed charges of graft against former North Cotabato governor and now Representative Jesus N. Sacdalan, survived an assassination attempt but is not accusing the congressional representative of being behind the assassination attempt.

Bureau of Internal Revenue files tax evasion complaint against owner of company that supplied allegedly overpriced coffee to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Palace says Magsaysay source re laptop procurement was a "disgruntled employee"

Malacañang denies allegations that corruption attended Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office's purchase of P1.6 million worth of laptop computers

Congress mulls abolishing intelligence funds of government-owned and controlled corporations

Couple denies anomalous coffee deals with Pagcor

Witness in several tax credit scam cases protests Office of the Ombudsman's filing of graft charges against him in connection with another case for the questionable transfer of tax credit certificates, saying office had granted him immunity from prosecution

Pagcor "pabaon" to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: P345M

Lawmaker faces graft raps over pork-funded hotel, rallies

Acting on its own, the Office of the Ombudsman is conducting an investigation into the alleged anomalous purchase of secondhand helicopters by the PNP.

Mike Arroyo may face contempt charges

Preliminary investigation into plunder charges filed bY Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation...against former PAGCOR chairman and 40 others before the Department of Justice has begun

Development Bank of the Philippines assistant chief legal counsel who was "involved in a crucial investigation" commits suicide in a Las Piñas hotel

President Aquino wants to find out what led to the death of Benjamin Pinpin, a lawyer for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), who is said to had unearthed anomalous transactions of the past board

Development Bank of the Philippines employees straining under new management's aggressive probe tactics

CALOOCAN Mayor faces yet another plunder case after Vice Mayor files a graft complaint against him over allegedly irregular deals involving water rationing services worth P415.9 million

BUDGET Secretary Florencio Abad came under fire at congressional hearings as lawmakers demanded to know why his wife, Rep. Henedina Abad of Batanes, was allocated P382.59 million in 2011 and P364.82 million in 2012 for infrastructure projects while other congressmen received nothing

"GMA country" split on her legal woes

New BuCor chief Gaudencio Pangilinan hit for lack of "delicadeza"

27 top cops face raps over chopper scam

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office admits no knowledge of actual gross sales of small town lottery program handled by 30,000 to 40,000 operators from all over country, thereby depriving it of much needed revenues

More personalities expressing willingness to cooperate with joint probe into 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial polls by Department of Justice and Commission on Elections

Palace backs travel ban on former chair of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and children

Why the Palace version of FOI bill?

Special Action Force whistle-blowers cry harassment by governor's aide

Speedy resolution of all complaints filed before Ombudsman to be given top priority to regain trust and confidence of public

New Bureau of Corrections chief retired Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan insists his innocence on plunder allegations leveled at him

Ombudsman sets caravan of social services in Kabankalan City

Bill allowing public participation in budget deliberations pushed

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office clarifies that nothing is wrong with religious organizations receiving PCSO funds as long as used for its social function, as well as medical and health assistance

Lawmaker denies receiving money from small town lottery

Cebu Mayor: Increased Jaywalking fines might become source of corruption

Fisherfolk organizations ask lawmakers to scrap the more than P300 million budget allocation next year for Aurora Pacific Zone and Free Port (APECO)

Supplier to link Mike Arroyo to alleged chopper scam

Personalities in helicopter controversy evade questioning

Choppers supplier getting threats; asks for Senate protection

Witness in "used choppers" controversy seeks Senate protection

Former PAGCOR head accuses DoJ of persecution

Former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano placed on Bureau of Immigration's watchlist

Former Lanao del Norte Mayor Hadji Rashid Limbona has filed graft and bribery charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Mike Arroyo

Caloocan City Vice-Mayor Edgar "Egay" Erice filed plunder and graft charges against Mayor Enrico "Recom" Echiverri and 11 officials and private respondents before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection to the anomalous water service contract worth P415 million allegedly entered into by the local government of Caloocan under Echiverri in 2006

Taft mayor still under preventive suspension

Cagayan de Oro City employee accused of duping members of homeowners association into paying transfer fee of more than P40,000 found guilty of administrative offenses, ordered dismissed from service

Lapu-Lapu officer faces raps for failing to issue receipt

Pagcor exec who uncovered coffee "scam" nervous

Three municipal treasurers sacked, 3 others suspended

Palace looking into former Election Commissioner's properties

Ex-PAGCOR Chairman slams trial by publicity

Ex-PAGCOR Chairman asks DoJ to lift hold departure order

FAMILY MUM ON GRAFT RAPS: Former mayor, his mother, his sister and four others were charged for the alleged misuse of P10 million in pork barrel funds in a donation supposed to go to the Girl Scouts of the Philippines in 2003.

The Office of the Ombudsman has filed charges of graft and malversation of public funds against Daet Mayor Tito Sarion after the Commission on Audit (CoA) questioned his grant to a contractor of a P1 million price escalation two years after the construction project had been completed and fully paid by a previous mayor.

Loan sharks preying on beneficiaries of government's P21-billion conditional cash transfer program, pocketing 10 percent of amount poorest of the poor get monthly

Government's aggressive stance against corruption and recently upgraded credit ratings make the Philippines stronger contender in race to be viable investment alternative to China

 

Each cup of coffee paid for by Pagcor cost 64 percent more than that served in other Figaro branches, according to a Commission on Audit report.

PAGCOR: in hot water again
ABS-CBN NEWS
 
It seems as though that the former administration of PAGCOR only sought to help themselves make more money.

Here are a few of the numbers that PAGCOR’s former administration spent:

  • P 21 million for hamburgers and 1-piece chicken meals
  • A P186 million cheque for the Batang Iwas Droga or BIDA partylist, which includes P 27 million for the 2008 movie Baler
  • P 6 million for the travel expenses of the corporations’ officials
  • P75,000 for the monthly payola of each of the corporation’s consultants

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Meet the New
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales
 
Click on COA Logo to read
The New Commission on Audit

Address before the Management Association of the Philippines by

Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan

Chairperson, Commission on Audit

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Pera Natin 'to!
Read more in-depth corruption articles
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project and website aim to put under the public spotlight important issues such as control and management of the nation’s public wealth (click below to read full articles)

COA: More Millionaire Government Officials Discovered, More Digging Still to Do

The most famous auditor of the country has a new bombshell with the just released “2010 Report on Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) Received by Principal Officers and Members of Governing Boards of Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and their Subsidiaries and Secretaries, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries and Other Officials of Equivalent Rank of National Government Agencies (NGAs).”

Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said in the introduction to the 900-page report that the objective is “to promote transparency in government by monitoring the annual salaries and allowances received by government officials holding high and/or multiple positions as well as determine the total amount of emoluments and benefits received by them from different state agencies/instrumentalities with which they are affiliated.”

Whistleblower Protection Act – Where Is It?

The Whistleblower Protection Act is currently pending approval in Senate. If enacted into law, this will give whistleblowers adequate protection they require.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago initially filed the bill before the 13th Congress to support and protect the right of witnesses and whistleblowers as they expose malpractices in their workplace.

“Whistleblowers automatically expect retaliation for their honesty. They are usually accused of being malcontents trying to profit from their accusations. The fear generated by retaliations creates a chilling effect on the willingness of people to come forward and expose wrongdoing,” she says.

“Our fight against graft and corruption in the government hinges on the courage of those who see evil and cry foul. We must reward their bravery and honesty with security,”

MAP INSIGHTS
A culture of integrity

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PART 1: Why do we need to build a culture of integrity? Because it is the only long-term and comprehensive solution to banishing and exorcising the profoundly pervasive culture of corruption that has damaged our country's institutions and corroded the moral compass of people, be it in the public or private sector. (Click HERE read part 1 of presentation on the private sector's "Integrity Initiative.")

PART 2: The Integrity Initiative's long-term goal is to have all companies follow the same integrity standards and set of rules. We are most heartened that our plan to establish an integrity certification and accreditation system, similar to the ISO, has earned the funding support of German firm Siemens AG, which has been implementing its own global Integrity Initiative program.(Click HERE to read part 2 of presentation on the private sector's "Integrity Initiative.")

 
IntegriViews
OPINION

CHOPPERS COPPERS: The testimonies of the invited resource persons gave you the impression that the helicopter scam was an underworld operation. Large amounts of payments were settled in cash something you'd expect from Mafia dealings but not from supposed legitimate firms supplying the government. Then too, there is the active participation of corrupt cops, reminding you of the corrupt New York Police Captain that broke the nose of future Don, Michael Corleone, in the classic Mafia novel The Godfather. To add to the underworld character of the helicopter scam, a lot of aspects were shrouded in mystery. PNP bosses mysteriously approved the contract without questioning the glaring fraud of used choppers being passed off as brand new. Non-experts were mysteriously assigned to check the delivered helicopters. Due diligence was mysteriously lacking in the PNP operating procedures. -- William M. Esposo in The Philippine Star

FREEDOM WITH RESPONSIBILITY: The President said his government is crafting a Freedom of Information Act that will enhance the public's right to know while at the same time protecting matters of national security and what little privacy public officials must still be able to enjoy. His fears are valid; journalists can be irresponsible, careless and downright licentious. Apart from journalists, other individuals can invoke the Freedom of Information Act to obtain government data for questionable uses. The absence of this piece of legislation, however, has also stymied efforts in previous years to unearth the truth about major corruption scandals, allowing those accused of wrongdoing to get away with their crime. All freedoms are open to abuse, but laws are passed to prevent abuse in the exercise of rights. The safeguards are never foolproof, but in the land of people power, in the land of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, people have learned that it is better to err on the side of freedom. It's time for the administration of daang matuwid to put its money where its mouth is, and give priority to the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

INQUIRER

Transparency and competitiveness

Building up transparent procedures and streamlining processes may build up the country’s competitive position and in the process help us create a culture of competitiveness. That in turn should lead to a combination of better public services and greater attractiveness of the country to investors which should push development.

Over the last three months at the National Competitiveness Council, we have made some progress on several fronts in the governance, transparency, and transaction flows areas.

  • Performance Governance System. We have moved forward with plans to install a Balanced Scorecard management tool for national government agencies...
  • Budget Transparency. The DBM has also started posting online the budget allocations and releases for lump-sum disbursements for congressional districts and provinces for PDAF (pork barrel),...
  • Transaction Costs and Flows. Because transaction flows and processes are too long and cumbersome, we have worked to streamline these processes...

  • Philippine Business Registry.  The DTI is now working ...to create a Philippine Business Registry system which will automate the registration and issuances of business numbers of new enterprises and eventually facilitate the incorporation of new business enterprises...

  • Integrity Initiative.  ...a private sector run by the Makati Business Club and the European Chamber of Commerce has started by getting over 550 companies to sign a pledge which outlines a code of conduct or behavior on integrity and ethics and, specifically, anti-corrupt practices...

TIPPING POINT?: It is my conviction, grounded on what I know about life and what I see as affirmation from current events and trends, that a people's need for the truth cannot be denied anymore, that it has reached an intensity that it will reveal itself even without formal prodding by courts and despite the Supreme Court's view of what is unconstitutional. We are on a tipping point in the Filipinos' evolution, when the elite who have wealth, who have power, who have advantage, will see the ordinary Filipinos emerge from the shadows to claim their birthright. And they will succeed because many among the elite are now refined enough to care and even share. -- Jose Ma. Montelibano in Philippine Daily Inquirer

ENTRAPPING GRAFTERS: Let's take a closer look at RA 3019. Section 3 (e) is the most reliable paragraph often used by prosecutors to corner/jail crooks in government. It states in full: "Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions." >>> If Garcia's plunder case was made to fall under the above in lieu of bribery, its outcome would be terribly different. The penalty would be higher/harsher. In addition other corrupt practices could be modified to cover Garcia's divertion of R300 M of tax money such as: 1) entering into any contract/transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the AFP, and 2) two or more independent corrupt practices carry separate penalties for each count. Bribery is one whole act with a penalty of a little over six years. Three or two corrupt practices could fetch more than 15 years in prison. Choosing a lesser offense for crooks is visibly regrettable. -- ATTY. ROMEO V. PEFIANCO in Manila Bulletin

UNCLEAR SIGNALS: ...access to information is already guaranteed in the 1987 Constitution, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713) and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019). But a freedom of information act will make the guarantees stronger and put pressure on government officials and members of the private sector (except where their private lives are concerned) to give citizens, and especially the media, access to information...the Philippines is one of the few countries in Asia without a freedom of information law...Information is the oxygen of a democracy. Cut off access to information in a country, and democracy soon dies. Attaining a "tuwid na daan" (straight path) will be difficult without freedom of information. We hope that this administration will realize that easy access to information will help it greatly in pursuing its anti-corruption campaign. -- Editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer

HELICOPTERGOROUND: "Mike is boxed in, Lacson notes. If he admits as his the two used choppers sold to the Philippine National Police, then he will incriminate Gloria. For, never since purchase in 2004 were the aircraft listed in Gloria's annual sworn statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. She would be charged with unexplained wealth. Under the law, Mike's two other unsold choppers could be confiscated by the state, because hidden by his public officer-spouse. Gloria would also be charged with falsification of her SALNs and perjury. In denying ownership, on the other hand, Mike also forfeits the two remaining choppers hangared at the Lion Air strip. Testifying at the Senate, Lion Air's Archibald Po disowned the two units, saying they're Mike's so he'd willingly turn them over to the state. Po added that up to two weeks ago Mike paid Lion Air the monthly P10,000 per chopper for hangarage and periodic inspection. Remittances were made by Mike's bookkeeper Rowena del Rosario. (Del Rosario was one of Gloria's midnight appointees in April 2010 to the Pag-IBIG board, along with her personal manicurist and family gardener.) -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

BEST YET TO COME: ...our fraternal competitors in the region are busy promoting exports, firming up the infrastructure backbone, strengthening their criminal justice system, and expanding the spectrum of educational, health, and welfare benefits all the way down to the lowest stratum of society. The Philippines, on the other hand, is preoccupied with wholesale investigations and exposes of electoral cheating in 2004 and 2007 elections; diversions of funds in the Philippine Charity Sweeptakes Office, excessive expenses of Pagcor for their high-rollers and come-ons for inveterate casino gamblers, and others for the specific purpose of stacking up sufficient prime facie evidence against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her consort, the First Gentleman, Atty. Mike Arroyo, for the non-bailable crime of plunder and other crimes...the nation wants to see two parallel avenues that will not transcend or overlap each other, namely, the daily chore and management of the country and economy, and the pursuit and prosecution of the corrupt and felons of the previous administration...the main concern of the poor, is that at the end of the day...the attention of the nation is wasted away in Congressional investigations, litigations, political upmanship, and personal vendetta that are of no relevance to the poor. The poor can only march on their stomach. They are inured to corruption, stealing, and cheating. For them, exposes are a waste of time, and are not edible. -- HECTOR R.R. VILLANUEVA in Manila Bulletin

ENTITLED: This context of privilege and entitlement has allowed people in power to flout laws, cut legal corners, and generally push this country deeper into the abyss of anarchy (in its worst sense). Within this context, big shots call the shots and consider rules, guidelines, agreements, contracts, the fundamental points of propriety in short, the safeguards of civilized society as petty inconveniences to be brushed aside. Thus the spectacle of members of the elite Presidential Security Group waiting head and foot on and even toting the handbags of a President's numerous mistresses; of a President's son with assets in the multimillions bagging a party-list seat in the House representing security guards and tricycle drivers; of, even further back in history, a President's wife making a national bank her own automated teller machine at a time when the instrument was not yet in fashion, or treating a national carrier as her private airline. Ad nauseam. It's a pox on the body politic. And it all goes back to what President Aquino calls "kulturang wangwang," a culture marked by the brazen abuse of power that he has made his crusade to stamp out. We earnestly hope that he is not just tilting at windmills. -- Editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer

SEEDS OF FEAR: Recent Senate investigations have focused on anomalous deals in the previous administration. Apart from resulting in legislation, these inquiries, combined with the filing of appropriate charges in court, should pave the way for dispelling perceptions that in this country, the wealthy and powerful can get away with anything. At the very least, wealthy and powerful crooks should get the message that they may get away with anything, but only until a new administration takes over... All those who have been accused of wrongdoing in Senate inquiries and formally before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice will have their day in court. Some of them might see their names cleared, but others appear headed for the national penitentiary, considering the documents and witnesses so far presented against them. Their investigation should sow the seeds of fear into the hearts of those who are considering involvement in graft. Conviction and punishment of the corrupt should seal that fear. -- Editorial in Philippine Star

SUBSTANDARD: Road projects, unfortunately, appear to be among the biggest sources of kickbacks and other corrupt activities in this country. Where there are no potholes to repair, roads are torn up and then repaved so some crook can pocket commissions. Corruption has to be among the biggest reasons for the substandard quality of Philippine roads. Contractors make up for the cost of corruption by cutting corners in constructing or repairing roads. When these substandard roads disintegrate, it means more repair projects and therefore more commissions. Everyone is happy except Juan and Juana de la Cruz. Several officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways and local government executives have been prosecuted for such deals, and seven contractors were debarred by the World Bank for collusion in bidding for a WB-funded DPWH road project. Yet we continue to suffer from substandard roads that melt in the rain. And shameless politicians usually the same crooks who collect commissions from favored contractors have the gall to want to put their names and faces on billboards claiming credit for road projects. -- Ana Marie Pamintuan in The Philippine Star

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MAP STATEMENT OF THE WEEK - 1 August 2011

 

Office of the Ombudsman as

 

P-Noy’s Anti-Corruption Tool

 

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) highly commends President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III for appointing former Supreme Court Associate Justice CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES as the new Ombudsman.

 

With this appointment, P-Noy once again demonstrated his strong resolve in his efforts to regain the public trust in public officials and in his quest for good governance.  We believe that P-Noy is now clearly declaring war on graft and corruption.

 

With Justice Morales’ proven integrity and unquestionable character, the government can finally use the Office of the Ombudsman as agency in the forefront of the war against corruption in government.   Corruption 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 “Tuwid na Daan” battlecry of P-Noy.  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: "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap!"

 

We urge the government to provide the Office of the Ombudsman with sufficient resources and logistical support so it can efficiently and effectively pursue its tasks like addressing abuses of authority and impunity among past and present government officials, making public officials accountable for their actions, investigating and prosecuting erring officials and meting out administrative penalties, and recommending policies that will eliminate government inefficiency and corruption.

A TEST FOR THE NEW OMBUDSMAN: Some of those who filed plunder complaints against Arroyo have indicated that the complaints would be a test of whether the ombudsman would be independent and would not act as a hatchet person, taking her cues from the administration. The administration's view of the function of the ombudsman was expressed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. He said Malacañang expected her to bring back the rule of law. Before her appointment, he said, "we were talking and told her that the rule of law should prevail, that rules on evidence should be the focus. It's not right that just because someone claims that this person is corrupt, we will prosecute that person automatically. Fairness and the rule of law should prevail." That norm will soon be tested. P-Noy's problem comes when Carpio-Morales takes their injunction seriously. -- Amando Doronila in Philippine Daily Inquirer

A NEW GRAFT BUSTER: While the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent agency, it depends on the national government for funding. The office needs more prosecutors, researchers personnel and facilities needed to gather evidence, follow the money trail, and prepare cases so airtight the government need not cut a deal with any accused plunderer. Integrity, competence and dedication are required of all personnel in the Office of the Ombudsman. Much is expected of Carpio-Morales. She can do her job better with sufficient resources and logistical support. -- Editorial in Philippine Star reoreinted in Ang Peryodiko

VANCOUVER CANADA SUN

Philippines president's graft vendetta against predecessor rages on

If Aquino gets a conviction for Arroyo, it will be remarkable in a country where many politicians talk about fighting corruption, but few do

A year into his presidency of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino is no closer to achieving his first objective of putting his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, behind bars for corruption...

Financial honesty has always been a virtue in short supply among Philippine presidents, but the whiff of corruption that swirled around Arroyo and her husband, the "First Gentleman" Mike Arroyo, was always more intense than most.

But the Philippines' grand landowning families, of which both Arroyo and Aquino are products, don't like disputes among themselves to end in jail time.

If Aquino does get a credible conviction for Arroyo, it will be a remarkable precedent in a country where politicians always talk about fighting corruption, but no one does anything about it...

It's not only Arroyo's political blue blood heritage that gives her strength in depth from Aquino's attacks.

Her election to the House of Representatives and her massive wealth ensure that there's always a significant chorus in the senior political class willing to sing her praises and defend her name...

...Aquino's single-minded determination to bury Arroyo and lack of attention to other pressing issues is beginning to get on the nerves even of his supporters.

There's a joke going around Manila that a good president has three qualities; honesty, competence and the capacity for hard work. But seldom do voters get them all in one package... -- By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD: One clear economic message associated with the efforts to eradicate corruption and its culture of entitlement for the privileged few, which has unfortunately acquired the metaphor of traffic sirens, is the application of the consistent rules for all business players. This direction is expressed in the phrase, "leveling the playing field." -- A. R. Samson in Business World

WANG-WANG CULTURE: I would describe wang-wang culture as the widely shared belief, expectation, and perception held by the ruling elite that those who possess money and power are entitled to be exempted from the rules that govern the behavior of the "common" Pilipino in dealing with the government bureaucracy and even other social institutions... I have no doubt about the sincerity of PNoy in trying to get rid of the wang wang culture. But there is no need to address the Pilipino masses. It is the culture of the ruling elite in this country that he must transform....Next time he addresses the need to transform the core values of the elite, he may consider speaking in English since most of them are more comfortable in that tongue than our own dialects... Even among those officials who remain personally honest, there seems to be a culture of tolerance or simply acceptance that corruption is "how things are done" and that nothing can be done to stop these practices. -- Elfren Sicangco Cruz in Business World

Whether it is by DOJ and/or the Ombudsman, we hope the performance of prosecutors will be audited. The following possible terms of reference in such an audit could comprise a few of the aspects that need to be considered. >>> (1) Is the management/supervision of Prosecutors satisfactory? >>> (2) Can/should communication channels between Prosecutors and PNP/NBI/Barangays be improved? >>> (3) Can the legal profession define "probable cause" with more specificity and less ambiguity? At present, "probable cause" is a massive gray area where, for example, Wendell Sulit can say that "the case against Winston Garcia is not strong." A Special Prosecutor who denies overwhelming evidence against a respondent is destroying the justice system and is encouraging corruption to flourish. >>> (4) Is the Aguinaldo doctrine really enshrined in our legal system? For cases against public officials to be dropped simply because they have been re-elected since their alleged offense is illogical. The case against former US President Richard Nixon would not have reached first base if the Aguinaldo doctrine had been invoked. >>> (5) Would it help if, when Prosecutorial inquiries elicited more information than was contained in the Affidavits, this additional information should be made known to both Complainants and Respondents? We are concerned about workload. The Ombudsman's office has just under 300 lawyers working full-time on some 13,000 complaints filed annually. Clearly, the incoming Ombudsman faces a management as well as a legal challenge to ensure that all cases are dealt with expeditiously. -- Neil Honeyman in Bacolod SunStar

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism: Metro Manila governments stingy with information

INQUIRER

Aquino on Freedom of Information: Yes – but only if it’s painless?

P-Noy did not mention the push for a Freedom of Information law in his State of the Nation Address. But he elaborated on his thinking on the issue in a speech before the Philippine Star.

And what he said would make one think that Noynoy is certainly for a freedom of information law – but only if it’s painless.

“This right to know carries with it responsibilities – to use the information available in context; to present facts fairly; and to be conscious of some elements who may want to use the information not to inform the public, but to, rather, inflame them,” he said.

As a journalist, that immediately raised a red flag for me: Who is to say when information is inflammatory or not?

So is he okay with what many of us see as a critical big step forward for Philippine democracy – but only if, in his view, it doesn’t mean having a harsh spotlight on his own administration?

...In many ways, this issue is more than just about new laws. It’s about creating a culture in which politicians and government bureaucrats — from high-level cabinet officials to office clerks — fully accept that ordinary citizens generally have the right to information. And that takes time...

ASIA SENTINEL: ...it has long been a truism in Philippine politics that few people ever are sent to jail for corruption...Arroyo is a member of the Philippines' elite families, as is Aquino. If she were actually to be arrested, let alone convicted, that would make a sea change in the structure of Filipino society and politics...Aquino has been criticized for vindictiveness and ignoring his duties in going after Arroyo with such zeal. So far, however, despite a year of targeting Arroyo's allies and former officials, the government has been unable to prosecute any of them...

BAGMAN UNDER ORDERS: Even if the newly appointed chief of the Bureau of Corrections, retired Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, is facing a plunder case in the Department of Justice, he is still presumed innocent until the court finds him guilty. Even if he did what he is being accused of doing, how could you blame him for being a "bagman" of the late Gen. Arturo Enrile, then Armed Forces chief of staff? How could Pangilinan be charged with plunder for handling money entrusted to him by Enrile, his boss? -- Ramon Tulfo in Philippine Daily Inquirer If Pangilinan refused an order from General Enrile to handle his money, he could be court-martialed for insubordination

ANOMALIES IN THE CASH TRANSFER PROGRAM: There are several alleged irregularities concerning the Aquino administration's conditional cash transfer program. Through this program, the Department of Social Welfare and Development doles out cash to families who send their children to schools and health centers. What should concern us is how this program would be funded. Malacañang claims it is doing something to alleviate poverty. But this is only a copy of what socialist countries did, as first imitated by the Arroyo administration. The Center for Women's Resources surveyed beneficiaries and found that they still preferred economic independence in the form of jobs to cash, which usually does not last. Worse, the release of doles has been said to be erratic. There are delays and discrimination. Beneficiaries are confused as to how much they should really receive. -- Emil Jurado in Manila Standard

CHAMPIONS: ...if the corruption that has haunted our democratic project from the start is systemic, the campaign to exorcise its deadly ghost cannot rest on the shoulders of one person alone, no matter how ready or qualified. The campaign must be system-wide too. We have seen how dysfunctional the administration of justice can be when the justice secretary is blatantly partisan (see under Gonzalez, Raul) or when the ombudsman and the chief of the DOJ are at war with one another (see under second Aquino administration, first-year performance). With the appointment of Carpio-Morales, however, we can look forward to the DOJ and the ombudsman working closely together to root out corruption from government service. Indeed, we can look forward to other agencies of government collaborating with the new ombudsman to finally put the country's many anti-graft laws and provisions into action. We hope that this new synergy in the campaign against corruption will not only mean solidly based cases, unlike many previous ones which were designed to lose, but also a more efficient resolution of the cases. Nothing inspires faith in the administration of justice, or strikes fear in the hearts of the corrupt, like a speedy trial. -- Inquirer Editorial

FIXITURSELF W/O FIXERS: The Pasig branch of the LTO along Shaw Boulevard is a small compound compared to the LTO's main office. Upon entering the gate, motorists will be greeted by a large sign warning them not to deal with "fixers". Right below the sign will be a swarm of them. Some of these unsavory individuals will even attempt to board your vehicle, so you must be vigilant. Don't be bullied into interacting with them - no matter what. Resist the urge to deal with these so-called fixers and I guarantee that legitimate LTO staff will be extra helpful in making sure that each step of the renewal process happens without any hiccups or delays. The end result is that you will be out of there in no time. I think this is because the LTO (at least at the Pasig branch) is making a sincere effort to clean up its image. Because we are so used to the corruption in government offices, it became normal for folks to slip a few hundred pesos to government workers (via fixers) to get things moving quicker. If you didnt, you would be stuck in a space warp where timed moved in slow-motion. But, if the system is streamlined, and government offices run like clockwork, why even bother dealing with a fixer? Why perpetuate corruption if the system works? At LTO Pasig, the system works. -- PAULO RAFAEL T. SUBIDO in Manila Bulletin

COVERUPABILITY: It was obvious what the dozen police generals were up to in yesterday's Senate hearing. They were covering up for the mastermind in their 2009 purchase of two old helicopters falsely passed off as brand new. And they did it so crudely...unlike the generals, one colonel opted to tell what he knows. Claudio Gaspar Jr. said he was familiar with the two used Robinson Raven-I civilian units. Seconded to the Presidential Security Group from 2004 to 2010, he had flown "the private choppers" for members of the Arroyo First Family. His most frequent passengers were Rep. Mikey Arroyo (69 times, from flight logs) and First Gentleman Mike (16 times). He would drop them off at Malacañang Area-3, for presidential flights, then hangar the aircraft at the LionAir compound in Pasay City. Camp Crame PNP headquarters sources say Gaspar was the favorite of five police pilots assigned to five private Robinson choppers. He was working for early retirement last month when Lacson blew the lid off the fallacious purchase. The generals clammed up all the more after Gaspar's revelations. They and the ringleader might work on him before the next hearings. But if he sticks to the truth he'll never go wrong. -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

CARPIO-MORALES' TOUGH JOB: ...Perhaps the whole Truth Commission fiasco should have taught the stubborn Aquino the lesson that he must work with the many and powerful tools that he already has in the pursuit of his campaign to rid the government of crooks and grafters. Perhaps not. But what must be painfully clear to Malacañang these days is that it has already thrown away a year without making any major headway in its much-ballyhooed campaign against corruption. And that campaign is certainly Job Number One for the government, as far as Aquino is concerned...it is probably safe to assume that the five years that remain in Aquino's term will not be enough to see most of the cases filed by Carpio-Morales against the officials of the previous administration on orders from Malacañang resolved...The past history of pursuing corrupt officials certainly does not predict a productive stint as chief graft-buster for Carpio-Morales. And because Aquino already threw away a full year just waiting for his Truth Commission to pass muster constitutionally, she will have that much less time to perform the herculean task that has been given to her. -- Jojo A. Robles in Manila Standard

RECTOFICATION: Sen. Ralph Recto has a bright idea regarding how to stop all the corruption in cash-rich government agencies. The senator proposes to channel the discretionary funds of such government outfits as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement Corp. (Pagcor) to the national treasury as part of the budget. The proposal, if BS had the mind to adopt it, would instantly erase the corruption in those outfits. Precisely, those discretionary funds are practically the personal kitty of those running these agencies. There is hardly any accountability. What is more, they only take direct orders from the president, whether it was the Lola at the Palace or BS. The total amount that the government can generate from those funds of all those government outfits, including the government's royalty income from the Malampaya natural gas project, could reach P210 billion a year. Estimates also showed that "tax leakages" could reach more than P100 billion a year, so that together with money from the Recto proposal, the total addition to the treasury could reach more than P300 billion a year. In comparison, the government's budget deficit is estimated at P290 billion this year. In other words, the Aquino (Part II) administration could cover its budget deficit without imposing new taxes or increasing tax rates. -- Conrado R. Banal III in Philippine Daily Inquirer

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