Integrity Philippines --------Pinoy Solutions to Corruption


Pinoy Solutions to Corruption
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Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) - a weapon of good governance

The new leadership of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) said it wants to eliminate alleged corruption from the agency amid reports of overpriced goods and services, such as a monthly budget of P33,000 for newspapers.


Aquino believes social transformation now taking place

Malacañang orders traffic enforcers to issue traffic violation tickets to all offenders of road regulations even if they happen to be...any member of President Benigno Aquino III's family...also issue violation tickets to Cabinet memebers, government officials and their respective families

"EURO GENERALS" CHARGED WITH GRAFT: Almost two years after their controversial trip to Moscow, graft charges were filed against the so-called "Euro Generals" of the Philippine National Police...Office of the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office filed graft charges against former PNP Chief, Director General Avelino Razon Jr. and the "Euro Generals" for allegedly violating the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act...their investigation showed that the 105,000 euros the Moscow Airport in Russia was not a "cash advance" from the earlier claimed...

Department of Public Works and Highways official implicated in installation of allegedly overpriced lamp posts in Cebu worth P365 million presses Sandiganbayan to direct prosecutors to substantiate the charges against him and his co-accused.

Government stickers will no longer exempt anyone from traffic violations

Truth Commission questioned >>> Arroyo allies ask Supreme Court to rule on legality

Billboards with politicians' names removed by Department of Public Works and Highways

PORK IN THE SUN: Congressional allocations in the 2011 proposed national budget were designed to promote transparency in the spending of lawmakers' pork barrel funds...under the new budget each congressman would receive P70 million a year while senators would get P200 million a year as Priority Development Assistance Fund: Budget Secretary Florencio Abad

Palace not seeking to replace Ombudsman

Department of Foreign Affairs meets heads of members of national interagency committee to discuss how to foil new schemes of getting passports in irregular ways and proliferation of online fixers who prey on applicants.

Bureau of Internal Revenue files tax evasion cases against subsidiary of a Chinese state firm and local printing company in the Department of Justice, as part of Aquino administration's campaign to run after tax evaders

SPOTLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE: The top candidates for president and vice president alone spent P4.3 billion on political ads during the official 90-day campaign period, and another billion 90 days before the campaign commenced, according to Nielsen Media's monitoring of tens of thousands of political ad clips. But for various reasons, the May 10, 2010 elections could also go down in the country's annals as a grand spectacle of lies, half-truths, and concealed truths foisted on the Filipino voters. These reasons include: Porous campaign-finance laws and inconsistent interpretation of the specific provisions by the Commission on Elections (Comelec); The negligence and inability of the Comelec to enforce these laws for reported lack of trained manpower, time and resources; An apparent pattern among most candidates, political parties, and their representatives to circumvent the laws in a "knowing and willful" manner; A patent conspiracy among candidates, political parties, party-list groups, and donors to defy the laws; and Uneven compliance by media agencies and service contractors with their reporting duties.

MORE POWER PROPOSED FOR OMBUDSMAN: MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri proposed additional powers for the Office of the Ombudsman, including the authority to investigate the bank accounts of suspected corrupt government officials. Zubiri said that cases filed before the Sandiganbayan were dismissed after the Ombudsman failed to substantiate claims of ill-gotten wealth of erring government officials. He said the lack of appropriate powers and measures to address the loopholes in the evidence gathering process of the Ombudsman should be rectified to effectively prosecute corrupt government workers and officials that steal from taxpayers. Zubiri said the inability of the investigators of the Ombudsman to look into the respondent's bank records without a subpoena issued by the court provide enough window for the respondents to withdraw from or transfer his or her account. The senator has filed Senate Bill 1447 or an "Act Strengthening the Institutional Capacity of the Office of the Ombudsman by amending certain provisions of the Ombudsman Act of 1989." Among the salient features of the bill are: to enable the Office of the Ombudsman to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum during the preliminary investigation in order to look into bank records even prior to the filing of a case before the court, issue freeze order on unlawfully acquired assets for six months, provide immunity from criminal, administrative or civil suits to the Ombudsman investigators and prosecutors arising from the regular exercise of their official duties, and impose penalties on the officer or employee found guilty of the charge even during election period notwithstanding the prohibitions under the Election Code and other similar statutes.

PRESIDENT LEADS BY EXAMPLE: Malacañang has asked national and local officials to stop displaying their names and photographs in government-funded projects. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the ban on the use of names and photographs of President Aquino, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and other government officials and politicians would cover only projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It would be up to Congress to prohibit the use of names and photographs of government officials and politicians in other projects and impose penalties on violators, he added. Lacierda said billboards featuring Mr. Aquino, including those along EDSA, would have to be dismantled. "The President is leading by example," he said.

POLICE OFFICIAL LOSES BIG AT CASINO: A police superintendent (lieutenant colonel in the Army) who is assigned at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) plays every night at the Maxim's Casino in Pasay City. This police colonel reportedly loses as much as P500,000. His excuse for his nightly presence at the Maxim's Casino is that his wife is a financier, one who gives loans to gamblers at loan-shark interests. Even if hes not playing, it's still illegal for him to be there since it's moonlighting.

"NO CORRUPTION IN USE OF U.S. AID: The Aquino administration has assured Washington that its $434-million aid package, approved last week, will not be tainted with corruption and will be utilized properly...Aquino said he instructed Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to communicate with Clinton to provide details on the Philippines' anti-corruption and policy improvement program, as well as other matters that might be of interest to the MCC.

ASSET RECOVERY GETTING HARDER: Government efforts to recover billions of dollars allegedly stolen by the late Ferdinand Marcos would be more difficult as the late dictator's family is back in power, the chief of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said... Confident that the Aquino administration would support recovery efforts, PCGG chair Ricardo Abcede vowed to push for the auction of former First Lady Imelda Marcos' jewelry and to work out a "universal settlement" with the Marcos heirs so the government could recover some P140 billion in ill-gotten wealth.

SENATOR VS. OMBUDSMAN: Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago Wednesday launched a broadside at Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, saying her failure to act on the Senate's recommendations regarding its inquiries into certain controversial cases bordered on "criminal neglect." "The Senate investigations of corruption scandals will be futile if the Ombudsman will not act on these committee reports. The public is waiting with bated breath for the culprits to be punished because the Senate itself cannot punish corrupt officials or send them to jail," Santiago said. She was referring to the committee reports on the scandals involving the so-called "euro generals," the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, the road user's tax scam, and the scuttled National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with China"s ZTE Corp.

Dept of Finance launches crowdsourcing website >>> "The Pera ng Bayan website provides a feedback mechanism from the citizens to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies utilizing relevant social network tools. The citizens should be able to report exemplary performance of civil servants under the department as well as send information relevant to graft, improper action, negligence, lavish lifestyle and other illegal practices of the same," notes the website's "About" page.

PROSECUTOR SACKED FOR EXTORTION: The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from government service of a Manila prosecutor who allegedly asked money from a lawyer in exchange for a favorable resolution in his client's case. Assistant city prosecutor Pedro Salanga, who was caught in an entrapment operation receiving bribe money from a litigant with a pending case before his office eight years ago, was also stripped of his retirement benefits. The anti-graft agency, in an 18-page ruling, also cancelled Salanga's civil service eligibility and disqualified him from re-employment in government service.

BANK OFFICERS ACCOMPLICES TO TAX EVADERS? >>> The Department of Finance (DOF) is looking at the liability of bank officers who practice unsafe and unsound bank procedures resulting in huge tax losses for the National Government. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in an interview with The STAR that his department has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for an opinion whether bank officers could be charged as accomplice of a tax evader.

University of the Philippines College of Law professors tell justice to quit for plagiarism

Punitive Duties and Thieves Make Post Office the Last Choice

EXCESSIVE SALARIES TO BE PROBED: Senator Franklin Drilon has a filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the reported excessive salaries and other unwarranted perks allegedly receive by several government officials during the Arroyo administration. Drilon said his resolution will have the Senate committee on finance, which he heads, and committee on government corporations and public enterprises, headed by Senator Ralph Recto, to look into the matter. "These alleged excesses in the use of public funds have to stop. It's like rubbing salt to an already open wound," he said.

AQUINO: END NAMES ON PROJECTS >>> President Benigno Aquino III has ordered all government agencies not to use his name or image on government programs and projects...presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the president issued the directive to all Cabinet secretaries and heads of government agencies and government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). The directive ordered the officials to "refrain from associating the president's personality and identity in their programs and projects," he said. "These agencies, instrumentalities, corporations are advised not to put up tarpaulins, billboards, and other propaganda materials bearing the president's name and image," said Lacierda. Aquino issued the directive after expressing support for Senator Francis Escudero's bill proposing to criminalize the practice of naming government projects after public officials and persons associated with them.

TAX EVADERS with more than P50 million in unpaid taxes may face plunder charges, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said...Purisima said this would send a strong signal to the public that the government is serious in going after tax evaders and smugglers. Finding probable cause for plunder means detention for the duration of the trial because it is a non-bailable offense. In the Philippines, the crime of plunder is defined as theft of public and private funds with a threshold of P50 million. The Aquino administration has promised not to impose new taxes and instead recover revenues lost to tax evasion and smuggling.

The governments acceptance of a P20 billion aid from the US government should not be misconstrued as an indication of subservience to the US government, the Palace spokesman said... Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the new aid should be seen as the Aquino administration's commitment to stamp out graft and corruption in the government..."Our commitment to the MCC is to make sure we have an administration that is free from graft and corruption..."

Bureau of customs offers reward to tipsters

Whistleblower Takes on Local Government in Kidapawan Over Claims Of Corruption

OMBUDSPOWER: Faced with controversies and questions on its integrity, the Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed that the Office of the Ombudsman has the power to directly remove erring officials. In a decision, the second division of the High Court ruled that the anti-graft office has the authority to order the dismissal of any executive official down to the barangay level except the president and members of Congress and the judiciary.

AQUINO SPOKESMAN: "The BIR and Bureau of Customs are filing charges against tax evaders and smugglers every week. This shows the sincerity of the Aquino administration to plug leakages in agencies and remove corruption from within...the approval of the MCA Compact proposal shows the US confidence towards the new administration. This shows their confidence in the reforms introduced by the Aquino administration against corruption and poverty."

SHAM?: The compromise reached between the farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita and the Cojuangco-Aquino family is a "sham agreement" that will not end the conflict in the sugar estate, a leftist party-list group leader said. "This compromise is a grand deception by the Cojuangco-Aquinos of farmers and the entire nation. It exposes the greedy character of the President's relatives," said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano...Anakpawis called on the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition to revoke the existing stock distribution arrangement between Hacienda Luista Inc. (HLI) and farmers, to "junk this sham deal." "The Luisita dispute is not simply about intra-corporate dispute as claimed and signaled by the landlord-President to the court. This is about agrarian reform, about social justice to Luisita farmers tied in more than half a century of bondage at the hands of the Cojuangco feudal lords," Mariano said.

The Department of Finance on Friday said the soon-to-be formed Truth Commission could investigate a previous tax evasion charge against Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo for failing to declare ownership and paying taxes on the multi-million-peso Jose Pidal account. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the tax evasion charge against the congressman is covered by the Truth Commission, which seeks to investigate corruption scandals during the Arroyo administration.

BoC holds seminar to improve performance, combat graft >>> In line with Commissioner Angelito "Lito" A. Alvarezs program to rid the bureau of corruption and transform it into an efficient and ethical organization, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) conducted a working session recently at the Ocean Park in Luneta, Manila... Commissioner Alvarez is working hard to fulfill his mission to eradicate graft and corruption in the agency, and restore the trust and confidence of the public in line with President Aquino's mission for clean and honest government. "Curbing corruption within the bureau may appear impossible, but this is the challenge I am facing. I nevertheless assure the public that the quality of governance under my administration will be a lot better," Alvarez said.

Public distrust, disapproval remain high for Arroyo >>> In Pulse Asia survey...Failing to address issues on corruption such as the canceled National Broadband Network (NBN) deal and the fertilizer fund scandal was considered by a fifth (26%) as her major shortcoming...

More PSALM lapses uncovered by CoA >>> An audit observation report issued by the Commission on Audit (CoA) unearthed additional items which have been part of what it called "lavish" spending made by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and said that the bonuses and part of such expenditures were tucked into its P471-billion stranded debt recovery which it plan to pass on to power consumers. Such expenses have either been "disallowed" or fiercely questioned by the state auditor in its report.

ANTI-GRAFT GROUP: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should not give her critics another justification that she is not doing her job by placing under preventive suspension Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino...

"No need for commission, truth now out in open" >>> The truth commission should not focus anymore on corruption cases because the documents hidden from the public during former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's time were now accessible to the new administration, said Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño.

Aquino revokes Arroyo "midnight" appointments >>> President Benigno Aquino III has recognized the validity of Chief Justice Renato Coronas appointment but revoked the midnight appointments of his predecessor, the president's legal counsel said...

"Corruption was the signature of the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," said Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello as an opening remark in his privilege speech.

Lawmaker moves to amend the Witness Protection Program Act, following President Benigno Aquino III's call encouraging witnesses to speak up on unresolved crimes and allegations of corruption in government.

Key political risks to watch in the Philippines

The camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to question before the Supreme Court the legal basis for creating the Philippine Truth Commission, a body set up to investigate alleged misdeeds during her scandal-wracked rule.

President Benigno Aquino III aware of graft charges filed against two allies, Liberal Party senatorial bet Nereus Acosta and current Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino.

Nationwide organization of lawyers dares President Aquino to impose disciplinary action against officials of government responsible for feeding him wrong data used as bases for lambasting predecessor in State of the Nation Address

Delinquency in payment of loans to the Social Security System (SSS) turned for the worse under the watch of NBN-ZTE scandal witness Romulo Neri who had been tasked in the previous administration to improve the state-owned firm's financial performance, the Commission on Audit (CoA) reported.

Former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta pleads not guilty in graft cases >>> Acosta's case involves the alleged illegal transfer of a Solar Tunnel Dryer worth P2.5 million from the municipality of Talakag to Manolo Fortich and its subsequent use and management by the Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries, Inc. (BINHI). He is also accused of allegedly releasing public funds to the private entity (BINHI) amounting to P2.5 million and releasing public funds amounting to P5.5 million to the Bukidnon Vegetables Producers Cooperative (BVPC), another private entity.

NO BYSTANDERS IN FIGHT VS GRAFT >>> President Aquino yesterday asked the Filipino people to join the campaign against corruption and not be bystanders in the fight. "The clamor for our people for change is so deep and so widely expressed that none of us can afford to be bystanders. Each of us has a duty to fulfill our social contract with the Filipino people by putting the interests of others before ourselves"...We can only end poverty if we fight corruption, and this is where everyone has a major role to play...It can be done in simple ways, by showing common courtesy to strangers, by paying taxes, by following traffic rules and by disposing of our waste properly. We can do even more by reporting any wrongdoing that might be brought to our attention. Let us challenge ourselves and our leaders to brave the straight path."

With his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, as his role model, President Aquino Sunday vowed to strive hard to leave a legacy of a corrupt-free government before he ends his term and retires in 2016.

President Benigno Aquino III was reminded by one of his closest allies from the Catholic Church hierarchy not to be eaten up by the "corrupt" system he had inherited and yield power to his successor six years from now. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan told the President in his homily at the Mass commemorating the first death anniversary of former President Corazon Aquino, "You know how hard it is to inherit a corrupt system. Dont do it unto your successor."

An anti-smuggling group has denounced erring customs officials for security lapses at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), resulting in the entry of unwanted goods in the country. Mario Nieto, founding chairman of the Crusade Against White Collar Crimes, claimed that many importers have begun to import contraband cars, drugs, firearms and explosives and other commodities whose importation is classified as "regulated" through the MICP because of lax security procedures.

Solons want witness protection program for House, Senate

DOJ asked to probe Compostela Valley judge, prosecutor

Iloilo mayor warns village heads of 'nepotism'

Truth body told: Take no prisoners

Noy to critics: Take Truth Commission case to court

Truth Commission can subpoena anyone, any document

Samar mayor penalized for conflict of interest

Newspapers remain relevant in the fight vs corruption: journalist

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pressured some officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) into granting a 15-year extension to its private concessionaires - Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. - before the end of her term, two top MWSS officials have claimed.

Justice told to quit over plagiarism case

Senate gives fugitive Lacson the defense, accounts committees

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) highlights the Justice System


GOVERNMENT NOW OUR ENEMY? It was during the time of President Ramon Magsaysay when the citizens truly had faith in the government. His administration was considered the cleanest. Trade and industry flourished, the Philippine military was at its prime and the Filipino people were given international recognition in sports, culture and foreign affairs. The Philippines then ranked second in Asia's clean and well-governed countries. Magsaysay's regime was the Philippine's golden years. After this, public service went on a downward fall. Public officials who were supposed to serve and improve the structures of the country collected their buck to enrich themselves with land (that belonged to the people), established corporations that exploited our natural resources (like coal, mine, copper, water) and got involved with shady deals at the expense of the taxpayers. A thread of greed had been set by these officials. They became rich and kept a heritage of public service. To this day their families continue the lineage of power... P-Noy must develop a strong system to spot check or counter-check the actions and initiatives of his people. This is the only way to ensure that everything they do is in accordance with his vision. At this point in time, in many agencies, particularly those responsible for the issuance of government permits, I still notice officers receiving direct payments and they want cash! Where are the windows that separate the officers who approve the permits from the cashiers? Why do the people who issue permits get to accept the money? Isn't this system encouraging more corruption?... The first year of P-Noy is crucial. He must continue to be in control and not give his men total freedom to make decisions. Their decisions must be aligned with his vision in leading the country. And the best way to do this is for him to persistently reinforce his ways of management and leadership. Leaders fail when they have a lack of foresight to plan for the future. P-Noy needs a checklist so that nothing will be missed. If he needs to be an obsessive-compulsive leader in order to succeed, then he must do so. - Sara Soliven De Guzman in the Philippine Syar

EX-PRESIDENT FIDEL RAMOS: Can't P-Noy do something to reverse Tagaytay's deterioration? >>> The Philippine Star reported that the two Tolentino brothers..."amassed some R500 million in ill-gotten wealth by way of unabated graft and corruption, abuse of power, and authority in the form of real estate properties, businesses, vehicles, and bank deposits, which in no way can be justified as having been acquired legally through their earnings as public officials or even their private business ventures." Comes now Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda with an unjustified dismissal of these serious charges as simple harassment with this statement: Tolentino is aware that graft charges would be filed (against him). The President is also aware of the graft cases filed before the Ombudsman,

LETTER FROM BENJAMIN HABITO >>> THE PRESIDENT'S campaign slogan, "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap," inspired the theme for a discussion forum held last Saturday by the Galing Pook Foundation (GPF). The question addressed by the forum was: How do we go into the praxis of the slogan? In particular, how can the GPF, an organization devoted to excellence in local governance, help operationalize this credo?... It turns out that the Philippines has no shortage of laws and structures against corruption, as Lazatin pointed out. We actually have an impressive and elaborate legal and institutional framework for combating corruption in government, from the Constitution to various republic acts and executive orders and issuances. And yet, using internationally recognized measures developed by Transparency International and the World Bank, our country ranks among the highest in incidence of corruption and among the lowest in quality of governance, with recent years seeing further deterioration. Sadly, in our country, there is a world of difference between theory and reality. As always, it is in enforcement and implementation and in recent years, in failure of institutionswhere we have fallen apart miserably. But there remain gaps in the legal framework as well. Lazatin identified two crucial items in the Constitution on which our lawmakers, for over two decades now, have been remiss in translating into the needed enabling legislation: the guarantee of freedom of information, and the ban on political dynasties. On the former, many of us were puzzled at the glaring absence of any mention in the Presidents recent State of the Nation Address of the Freedom of Information bill, shot down near the finish line by the last Congress. No one beyond P-Noys innermost circle seems to know the real reason for this uncharacteristic omission; one can only hope its not an ominous sign that the enemies of transparency are gaining some headway in the new leadership...

Truth Commission >>> A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) August 02, 2010 With the inconclusive results on the investigation of the charges of lying, cheating and stealing allegedly committed during the reign of ex-President now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the creation of a "Truth Commission" to probe into said charges seems to be really necessary especially because of the peoples' extreme frustration and disgust when the previous attempts to look into them did not even reach first base.

LETTER: Merceditas Gutierrez not the legitimate Ombudsman

Delivering on the war against corruption

David L. Balangue, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7/31/2010

“KUNG WALANG corrupt, walang mahirap” lays the foundation of President Noynoy’s administration, and we could not agree with him more. With his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday clearly underscoring this, the Filipino nation will now anxiously wait for him to deliver on his promise to fight corruption. We have seen how the efforts to go after the corrupt officials of the Marcos administration have failed miserably, and we hope and pray that we would not see a repeat of the corrupt going scot-free and of government failing to land even just one big fish in jail.

Such failure has simply encouraged the corrupt to continue with their merry ways, trusting in the Filipino’s proven poor memory—and even shorter recall. Or could it be that, frustratingly, the corrupt—especially those with power and authority—outnumber the honest and true? It is likewise largely observed that the corrupt find strength and comfort in aiding and abetting “partners in crime” and thus they obliterate the crime by association—meaning, since everyone is guilty, including some “legal enforcers” for sale, who will first blow the whistle?

The legacy of the Marcos era is full of accounts about corrupt officials “getting away” and regaling such “feat” with pride and false bravado. The Filipino’s mental acuity was so blunted by the never-ending stream of “white noise” made to slacken public vigilance against corrupt acts perpetrated and abetted with growing brazenness and shamelessness. The biggest reason for the failed prosecution of corrupt officials of the Marcos-era is the extremely slow wheels of justice caused by the incompetence of the prosecutors; or the lack of purpose and seriousness in going after the perpetrators; or the serious defects in our justice system; or, most likely, a combination of all three. A key guiding principle of justice is the phrase “justice delayed is justice denied.” Many of these cases, particularly those against the Marcos family and cronies, have been dragging on for more than 20 years now. Do we have to wait another 20 years to see justice finally served? And how could justice be served when the accused die of age-related diseases, and judges have to retire and be replaced because it has taken decades to decide the cases, if at all they have been decided? Indeed, our tendency to “forgive and forget” is abetted by the sheer greed of the shameless perpetrator and those equally guilty for letting him/her go scot-free.

This extraordinarily long and unjustifiable delay in the resolution of these cases is a matter that needs to be urgently addressed by the Supreme Court and our President.

How should we judge the success or failure of our new government in redressing such longstanding injustice to our people? To the Filipino nation, it should not be simply about numbers—e.g., how many cases will be filed by the Truth Commission against corrupt officials and those who had a hand in circumventing or obstructing justice.

With the rise of a trusted administration, Filipinos should not settle for anything less than the imprisonment of the guilty and the recovery of their ill-gotten wealth within one year. The prosecution of large-scale corruption should be time-bound; the seemingly never-ending court hearings laced with postponements ad nauseam should be a thing of the past.

Putting immediate closure to these cases can be achieved without sacrificing due process and the right of the accused to defend himself or herself.

We as a people should not be “too nice” to the corrupt. The crooked and fraudulent should be despised, ignored and not worshipped as idols to be emulated or, worse, voted to public office. Playing blind to the depravity and greed of the corrupt has no place in President Noynoy’s administration. It is indeed unfortunate that our right to vote has been so debased by known corrupt individuals who see and use the public office as a means not to serve the nation but to stay in power, and as an opportunity to amass more wealth. To date, with the laudable, sincere, well thought out, focused, frank and transparent actions of President Noynoy and his men, the Philippines is poised to turn over a new leaf. We are aware who the corrupt are in our midst; they stick out like sore thumbs today, unlike before, not too long ago, when they blended well with the rotten apples and the rotten landscape. Now that transparency and accountability are par for the course, the unrefined, ugly, calculating and opportunistic ways of the corrupt are no longer welcome nor condoned. We herald the start—and continuation—of a Filipino culture that shuns corruption and demands honesty, transparency and accountability from our government officials.

David L. Balangue is a former chairman and managing partner of SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co., and past president of the Management Association of the Philippines, the Financial Executives Association, and the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Justices keep SALNs secret

High court black hole
in transparency drive

GOOD GOVERNANCE is the solemn promise of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Transparency and respect for access to information could enable it; the rule of law, or the prosecution of cases built on evidence before the courts, could assure it endures.

In President Aquino’s epic effort to rid the government of corruption, the judiciary will perform the critical role of arbiter, judge, and guardian. Yet the judiciary itself is nurturing a black hole of information, which could swallow into nothingness initiatives to limit, if not stop, corruption.

For years now, the judiciary has insisted on its supposed prerogative not to disclose information and documents vested with public interest, in utter defiance of anti-graft laws and the Constitution.

For one, in several issuances since 2001, the Supreme Court has stubbornly refused to publicly disclose the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of its members as well as that of 2,194 justices and judges and 23,224 other court personnel. The Court’s argument: to protect members of the bench from harassment by hostile parties and litigants.

For another, the judiciary has so jealously guarded its purse and highly centralized disbursement of funds such that to this day, the Commission on Audit has not published on its website the audit report on the Supreme Court for 2008. A full three months after the April deadline, the report for 2009 has yet to be completed as well.

To be sure, Court officials say that there are several reasons for the delayed accounting of the judiciary’s budget – booked at P14.5 billion in 2010, or 24 percent more than the P11.6 billion in 2009.

(This budget for the judiciary in the General Appropriations Act is apart from the P1.75 billion target collections in 2010 from various court filing fees that the Judiciary Development Fund Act – Presidential Decree No. 1949 passed in 1984 – authorizes the high court to spend on the cost of living allowances and special allowances of its personnel, on top of their salaries.)

Whatever reasons there are, however, do not change the fact that when it comes to disclosure of information on two matters – the personal wealth of the justices and judges, and the monies it spends to run the courts – the judiciary is much less forthcoming than most agencies of the Executive branch or even the Senate.

Additional sections of this article cover: Deny, delay behavior; Balancing perils; Real, potential conflicts; Companies & jurists; research findings and the corresponding replies of some of the justices.

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Wheels of justice grind slow,
results, audit of funds slower

Last of Two Parts

NUMBERS – people, cases, funds – are a messy, maddening mix in the courts. The numbers defy all myth and romance about the majesty and dread that literature ascribes to the men and women in robes, and indications are they pose a perpetual challenge for the administrators of the country’s judicial system.

As a result, according to the Commission on Audit (COA), the task of auditing the courts, and prying open their books, continues just as slowly as the wheels of justice grind in the country.

In large part, this means that there is no real gauge on just how effectively the judiciary is using the monies it receives.

For now, it certainly looks like a multibillion-peso budget has not helped the courts improve performance, based on their own targets.

By its own admission in its annual report, the judiciary’s case disposition rate has varied from a low of 22 percent for the Sandiganbayan to a mere 32 percent for the lower courts, to a high of just 60 percent for the Supreme Court.

Remaining parts of ths article include: No. 9 budget rank; 1 judge: 52,077 Pinoys; Picture not pretty; Discipline, penalties; ‘Value for money’; Need to decentralize; Pay hike for judges; The SAJ gambit; CJ’s prerogatives

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