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CROSS WITNESSING: State prosecutors intend to present former elections chief Benjamin Abalos and former socio-economic planning secretary Romulo Neri as witnesses in each other's cases stemming from the governments scuttled national broadband network (NBN) deal with China. Abalos and Neri have been separately charged for their alleged role in the controversial P329 million contract, which the government decided not to pursue after allegations that the deal was tainted with corruption. Abalos was charged with violation of the Anti-Graft Law and the Revised Penal Code for allegedly taking interest and intervening in a contract that was not related to his duties as election chief, as shown by his supposed bribe offer to Neri. Neri was implicated for allegedly conferring with Abalos on the project even though the latter was not supposed to be involved with it, and for allegedly meeting with ZTE officials when the project was under assessment.

ASIA'S KIDNAPPING CAPITAL: "Weak rule of law, rampant corruption, widening socio-economic gaps, and the presence of insurgent and terrorist groups are just some of the factors that perpetuate the kidnapping threat across the country...Sometimes referred to as Asia's kidnapping capital, the Philippine kidnapping threat continues to persist and evolve..."

ANTI-CORRUPTION PROMISES SPARK PESO & STOCK MARKET UPSURGE: Benigno Aquino's promises to cut tax fraud and corruption have fueled the best performance in Philippine stocks and the peso in the first eight weeks of a president's term since his mother took power in 1986...Since July 15, Benigno Aquino has filed complaints against business executives for inaccurate information on tax returns every week and says he plans to target lawyers, accountants and bankers who may be helping companies and individuals evade taxes. He has backed a bill prohibiting new spending not supported by revenue, touted privately funded roads and plans a freeze on government hiring and new buildings.

OMBUDSMAN HITS "NOODLES SCAM": The Office of the Ombudsman has slapped criminal complaints against former Deparment of Education (DepEd) Secretary Jesli Lapus and a number of officials from the department over the alleged multi-million peso noodles scam. The Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the anti-graft agency charged Lapus with two counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and a count each for violating the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Consumers Act of the Philippines...The Ombudsman said that in 2007 and 2008, the noodles were bought as one item as "fortified noodles with fresh eggs." But the Education department Approved Annual Procurement Plans (APPs) showed that the items to be bought should be "noodles and eggs, two separate items." The APPs did not state if the eggs will be an ingredient of the noodles or not, and how and in what form will the eggs be mixed in the noodles. The ingredients of the noodles are not specified as well. Dennis Quido, former sales manager of government supplier Kolonwell Trading, earlier said that the noodles Jeverps offered lacked nutritional value since laboratory tests from Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Korea showed they only contained flour.

Puerto Princesa City holds anti-corruption seminar >>> The department heads and chiefs of offices of the City Government of Puerto Princesa participated in a one-day orientation-seminar-workshop on three major laws on Anti-Corruption conducted by the Transparency International Philippines at the Asturias Hotel. The seminar was held to raise awareness for transparency and a better society through active participation of local government units.

CHINA NEWS: "Democracy is no answer to corruption" >>> "Just look at India, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, etc."

Reformist Mayor Tapped to Roll Accountability out to the Regions

OMBUDSMAN BLOCKS PAYMENT FOR OVERPRICED PS'S: The Office of the Ombudsman asked the provincial government of Marinduque over the weekend to hold the payment for allegedly overpriced personal computers bought for P14.7 million...while the "issue of anomalous procurement is still under investigation." The 53 personal computers, priced at P278,000 each, have been bought for the Day Care Center Computer-based Learning Development. According to Acting Director Beda Epres of the Field Investigation Office-Intelligence Bureau, the procurement process of the provincial government violated the conditions of the Manual of Procedures for Procurement of Goods and Services. "The procurement process did not follow BAC [bids and awards committee] procedures, and an examination of the procured items . . . show that they are overpriced at P278,000 per set..."

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION'S UNLIQUIDATED ADVANCES DOWN TO 29%: Consolidated reports from the central office, regional offices, foreign-assisted projects and attached agencies of the Department of Education (DepEd) reflect that only about P467M or just 29% of the P1.6B remain unliquidated as of August 19, 2010...Education Chief Armin Luistro...has directed all responsible personnel to provide him the details on the status of liquidation and use of the cash advances. "As a general policy, all expenses should be liquidated at the time required by accounting and auditing rules. I already instructed responsible officials and employees to submit a status of their liquidation," said Luistro... "The government is serious about its fight against corruption. We want to lead by example being the biggest bureaucracy of the country..."

4 WHISTLEBLOWERS SEEK PROTECTION: Four whistle blowers who exposed anomalies during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seek to be included on the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice, saying they were more confident now about the security the Aquino administration could provide them. Businesswoman Sandra Cam, witness in the jueteng scandal that hounded the Arroyo family; former military intelligence agent Vidal Doble, witness in the "Hello, Garci" electoral fraud scandal; information technology expert Dante Madriaga, witness in the NBN-ZTE Broadband deal; and fertilizer-project broker, Jose Barredo, Jr., witness in the fertilizer fund scam, were scheduled to be interviewed by WPP officials to assess if they could be admitted into the program.

ADB: RICH & MIDDLE CLASSES GRAB SUBSIDIES FOR THE POOR: In the Philippines, it is the middle class and the rich who benefit more from public health, housing loans, water supplies, food subsidies, and other public services. This eye-opener is provided by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a just-released report on the emerging middle class in Asia.

Butuan City officials push for transparency, anti-corrupt governance >>> one of the measures currently undertaken by the city government is to eliminate checkpoints in main highways of the city as well as in Agusan river.

CHIEF QUEZON REVENUE OFFICER FIRED, CHARGED: A lawyer who was dismissed from the Bureau of Internal Revenue is facing graft and perjury charges and may forfeit P4.5 million worth of property after the Finance Department sued him for accumulating assets disproportionate to his income.

Graftbusters from 10 different Asian nations arrive to attend  two-day regional conference of the Asian Ombudsman Association (AOA). The activity aims to bring together the heads of various ombudsman and accountability institutions in Asia, academic scholars, and representatives of non-government organizations to discuss the various factors related to the independence, accountability, accessibility and mandate of the ombudsman.
The Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines will launch the Declaration of Ombudsmanship Principles that will guide all anti-graft institutions in the performance of their mandated functions.

The Declaration outlines the key concepts and core principles of ombudsmanship including institutional competence, independence, accessibility, accountability, responsiveness and cooperation. It seeks to, among others, promote ombudsmanship as a credible means of combating administrative injustice and mal-administration, and to provide a direction for its future growth and further development in the region.

Taguig mayor orders cop's relief over extortion raps

QUEZON CITY CUTS RED TAPE: The private sector investment arm of the World Bank has partnered with the Quezon City government to reduce transactions from as many as 18 steps to two. The International Finance Corp. and city hall has put up a one-stop shop for business registration, renewal and other procedures that would enable applicants to obtain licenses and permits within the day.

ABOLISH BUSINESS PERMIT FEES >>> The Philippines can experience an economic boom once it pushes the abolition of regulatory fees on the multi-layered procurement of business permits, a major source of corruption and a stumbling block in tapping the underground economy, a British tax expert said.

INSTITUTE OF INTEGRITY: " the world of the practical, in order to serve the people faithfully, Pimentel said the public servant must possess at least three Cs: character (which includes integrity), capacity (the ability to get things done) and courage (the virtue to stick to and do what is right)."

HUNT FOR ARROYOS' ALLEGED ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH STARTS >>> Plagued by scams and other allegations of graft, the 9-year reign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is perceived to be worse than the 20-year rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in terms of corruption..."There are efforts, and I will confirm this much, of some quarters to identify where this ill-gotten wealth could be, and there are some very good leads already, which would prompt them to immediately or sooner than later, they would prompt them to request the Philippine government now to take actual and positive steps to require the cooperation of its foreign jurisdictions. I can also confirm that there are some quarters that are focusing also on jurisdiction such as Latin America," International Humanitarian lawyer Harry Roque said...

REGAINING THE PEOPLES' TRUST: Filipinos' trust in their own government leadership has become a scarce commodity since over a decade ago...This is not a political opinion; respected opinion surveys have borne this out. Three things stand out among the reasons for this: the "Hello, Garci" electoral scandal, the National Broadband Network (NBN-ZTE) fiasco, and the fertilizer scam, all now etched on the dark side of the nation's history, symbolic of what ails Philippine governance. Below are key moves I, and most other Filipinos, Im sure, would hope to see: >>> Quality appointments to key government posts >>> Declare an unequivocal policy of zero tolerance for corruption and demonstrate top leadership commitment to enforcing it >>> Practice transparency and accountability convincingly >>> Uphold intensified decentralization and devolution of governance and development processes >>> Widen and deepen public participation in governance and development >>> Intensify streamlining of front-line government processes and procedures

YAHOO NEWS (AFP): Philippine leader goes online to fight corruption >>> Internet-savvy Philippine President Benigno Aquino is opening the doors of government through cyberspace, promising unprecedented public access to help fight entrenched corruption. Filipinos are among the world's most enthusiastic users of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and Aquino says he wants this huge online community to become a new force in stamping out graft. "We cannot underestimate the potency or the power of digital media," said presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma, who headed a project launched this week linking Aquino's website ( to social networking platforms.

Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon revealed yesterday that executives and employees of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monetary Board have received P101.9 million in salaries and bonuses last year. Drilon said the Commission on Audit also reported that the BSP itself has "under remittances" to the national government worth P7.07 billion from 2003 to 2005. Citing records presented by COA chief Reynaldo Villar, Drilon said the BSP had not remitted to the government revenues that ballooned to P16.45 billion by 2007. The money included revenues supposedly earned by the BSP from dividends.

CORRUPT AVIATION SCHOOLS AROUSE CONCERN: Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. expressed concern on the existence of fly-by-night aviation schools in the country as he said that it might affect further the Philippines' category in international aviation organizations... According to CAP head Alfonso Cusi, Japan has stopped sending students here because of the alleged corrupt practices of some flying schools and training centers.

PHIL-AMS: $50B. SPENT,$8B.SENT >>> ...the perception of Filipinos worldwide is not exactly flattering. This stems from the reputation of the Philippines as corrupt and poor. Painful as it is, we have had to accept the reality of corruption and poverty in our country at levels which are scandalous and shameful...corruption has emerged the worst evil that enslaves the many for the proverbial few. Yet, the strength and beauty of the culture of Filipinos have withstood serious attacks on its virtues and have endured...simple statistics about what people earn, what people spend, and what people give reveal silently but more consistently the generosity and heroism of Filipinos...

CREDIBLE AUDIT WORK: LAST WEEK, a key official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue accused unnamed private accountants of complicity in tax evasion cases. The charges stemmed from the investigation conducted by the BIR on some business enterprises that undervalued their revenues to evade the payment of taxes.

Tax evasion case filed vs dealer of luxury cars

Recto urges Ombudsman to focus on disallowed expenses >>> The government is hauling in close to P5 billion in illegal expenses every year and Sen. Ralph Recto wishes Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez would focus on these disallowed charges rather than on unliquidated cash advances of government agencies. Recto said Gutierrez should run after public officials who ignored demand letters sent by the Commission on Audit for the payment of expenses they charged to their respective offices but were disallowed because they were not authorized. The COA reported that illegal expenses of state officials reached P4.75 billion in 2008 and P4.71 billion in 2007, but Recto noted that "not a single centavo" has been paid back to the government.

WATCHDOG WATCHING: Corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) is keeping an eye on President Benigno S. Aquino III to see if he is fulfilling his promises to promote transparency and to address the stigma of corruption in the Philippine bureaucracy. Samantha Grant, TI's program coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, said she is hopeful that the Aquino administration would stand by its principles of weeding out the corruption to improve the lives of the poor Filipinos. "I think that people are quite hopeful and he needs to deliver on the promises he made. It is important that we see results," she told the Manila Bulletin

Gov't to crack down on "kabit" system >>> Like the practice of subcontracting, "kabit" are bus owners who operate by illegally using a different company's franchise...

CHURCH LEADER: CORRUPTION NOT ROOT OF MISERY >>> "To identify corruption as the root of our misery is to misread the more fundamental issues of land, social justice, and sovereignty," said the Rev. Rex Reyes, an Episcopal Church of the Philippines priest and general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines...

ACT 11 YEARS AGO, CHARGES NOW >>> An employee of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) was charged yesterday in a Manila regional trial court with falsification of public documents after she allegedly tampered with her time card 11 years ago. Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Leah Tiozon-Fortuna of the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to file the charge against Carol Isabelle Lopez, a former assistant at the PRC.

CORRUPT ACT 5 YEARS AGO, CHARGES NOW: Graft charges were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against the Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the Cordillera Administrative Region for buying office supplies without the benefit of public was alleged that on December 2004 Estabillo purchased 1 unit of IBM Thinkpad with accessories at a cost of P111,000 and one Infocus X2 multimedia projector with accessories at a cost of P115,000...In February 2005, several conference tables and chairs amounting to P242,950 were also purchased... also bought conference discussion and entertainment system with accessories at a cost of P285,500...there was no evidence that respondent conducted a canvass from at least three suppliers for each kind of equipment as records show only one supplier and one quotation for each kind of equipment.

COLLEGE PRESIDENT JAILED FOR GRAFT: The anti-graft court has sentenced a state college president to six to 10 years in jail for putting his three sons on the school's employment program for poor students and paying them salaries even if they did not report for work. The Sandiganbayan also ordered Elpidio Locsin Jr., president of the Iloilo State College of Fisheries, to reimburse the school for the P5,100 that he had paid his children.

THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICIAL WEBSITE has been developed with the main intent which is to provide a feedback mechanism wherein the people can stay connected to the president and air their views. It is a platform wherein people can make their voices heard. It is an enabler wherein people can send a message to the president or any of his staff...The Office of the President's approach to New Media reflects the current trend in the use of available technology which is to engage and empower citizens not only in the online world but also offline. The website has been developed with a belief that people support what they help create. The website will be a partnership wherein content will be a shared responsibility between the president, the different government agencies, and the people.

GOVERNMENT OWNED AND CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS LOSING, BUT SPENDING GOES ON: Citing COA findings, Sen. Ralph Recto said GOCCs spent a total of P682 million in "entertainment bills" in 2008, of which P391 million was spent by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) alone. Recto noted that the amount was nearly half the P1.4 billion in representation allowance for the entire national government.

Bureau of Customs asks Bureau of Internal Revenue to identify employees "on the take" or involved in corrupt practices.>>> Customs Commissioner Angelito "Lito" A. Alvarez said the BIR will play a major role when the Customs bureau begins checking the lifestyle of its officials and employees to identify and weed out corrupt and inept workers among its ranks and reward those who are honestly serving the government.

LAWMAKERS WANT NAMES ON PORK: Lawmakers from the minority bloc in the House of Representatives made it clear that they wanted to keep their names and, possibly, even their faceson billboards announcing the projects they had sponsored...they impressed upon Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, whom they invited to lunch so they could air their concerns on the use of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as the pork barrel is officially called. The PDAF is widely perceived as a major source of official corruption. The Department of Interior and Local Government earlier urged local chief executives to follow President Benigno Aquino III's lead and not to advertise their names and faces on billboards announcing government projects.

GOVERNMENT REAFFIRMS: NO NAMES ON PORK >>> Malacañang is standing by the orders released by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Public Works and Highways for the removal of signs proclaiming local officials and lawmakers as those responsible for government projects in their respective jurisdictions.

FINANCE SECRETARY CESAR PURISIMA: Government hopes to recover estimated 250 billion pesos ($5.53 billion) lost yearly to tax evasion by focusing on tax cheats among the self-employed, collecting unpaid inheritance taxes

NO LIQUIDATION, NO SALARY: Saying this was part of efforts to bring about a more efficient government, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez asked nine agencies to withhold the salaries of their personnel who had failed to liquidate cash advances collectively amounting to nearly P2.4 billion.

P-Noy lauds Ombudsman for improved performance >>> President Aquino lauded yesterday the noticeable improved performance of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, particularly when she called on the executive department to withhold the salaries of employees whose agencies have incurred unliquidated cash advances.

House fails to muster vote on Ombudsman's impeachment

Philippines' Aquino takes reform agenda into cyberspace (From France24 International News)

WORLD BANK UNDER FIRE for "colluding" with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the weather bureau to get a mandate for a $15-million fund from a global climate change facility which the Philippines could have accessed without using an intermediary. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the WB's deal to act as a conduit to access the United Nations Adaptation Fund could burden the country with even more loans. "By inserting itself as an intermediary, thereby pushing the Philippines to use the multilateral modality, it appears that the World Bank is undermining Philippine intentions to promote and operationalize the direct access modality in its efforts to gain access to, or avail of, the Adaptation Fund," Enrile said.

Local officials urged to post budgets and contract on Internet >>> Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said there has to be full disclosure by all LGUs of annual budgets, income, expenditures, contracts, and loans.

CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER Angelito Alvarez has abolished a unit and grounded 26 people in the first wave of a revamp in one of the country's most graft-ridden government agencies. He dumped the Customs Accreditation Secretariat for failing to protect the integrity of the agency's accreditation mechanism for brokers and importers. The changes "are meant to rid the Customs of its perennial faults, defects and weaknesses," Alvarez said.


Apple manager responsible for contract manufacturing in Asia arrested over $1 million in kickbacks

Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) declined to say whether it has opened an investigation following allegations of an elaborate kickback scheme that involved an Apple employee and at least six Apple suppliers, including three Singaporean companies...Under Singapore's anti-corruption law, company employees and others can be prosecuted for corruption if they give, solicit or receive bribes and kickbacks...In a region where corruption is a persistent issue, Singapore stands out as being relatively free of the problem. Transparency International ranked Singapore third on its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index...


LETTER: Fight against corruption may entail bloodshed >>> Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8/27/2010 - THE ENTIRE world knows that we are one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In every election, people sell their votes - actually their souls, as well as the souls of their children and grandchildren - for a few pesos. And for the past 100 or so years, the same families/political clans have ruled our country. These "groups" are not interested in making the Philippines a better place to live and raise our families in; their primary goal is self-enrichment and power. Why are they able to stay in power? Because "greedy" voters sell their votes. This very act is a direct reflection of our corrupt culture. Corruption is like a cancer that is slowly but surely destroying us. Is there a cure? Maybe. For sure it will be a very long and painful process that could very well require the shedding of blood. Let us pray and hope that we excise this cancer from our society without the need to shed blood. If we look at other countries, it did take bloodshed to clean the government of its corrupt leaders... I recently received a text message that I think provides the answer to all these questions: "Dont steal! The government hates competition." PANG LEE, Makati City

TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS: The announcement that President Benigno C. Aquino III has authorized government officials to attend congressional hearings and answer questions from the legislators is a positive response to public clamor for transparency in governmental affairs. This is a departure from the strict prohibition of the past regime forbidding officials from testifying in congressional inquiries, particularly on matters involving Malacañang without the consent of the President

TRANSPARENCY BILLBOARDS CAN BE USEFUL: Milagros Magsaysay, representative of the first district of Zambales, said that the billboards placed at the site of public works projects were a form of transparency since they identified the project, who sponsored it, how much it cost. She was reacting to the order of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Interior and Local Government to have the names and pictures of government officials removed from billboards announcing infrastructure projects of the government...I understand that the order of DPWH and the DILG is to remove the names and faces of sponsors of the projects from the billboards, not the billboards themselves. The billboards have their use as they allow people to monitor the progress of the project and howl to high heavens, or to the media, if the project is not proceeding according to the timelines shown on the billboard. After all, according to Congressman Danilo Suarez, a billboard costs only P4,000, maybe much less if there is no picture.

LIQUIDATING THE UNLIQUIDATORS Why would a government official fail to liquidate his (or her) cash advances within the required time? The Ombudsman is now going after officials and employees of nine agencies whose combined unliquidated cash advances have reached a total of P2.4 billion...what if the failure to liquidate an advanced sum is an effort of the official to cover up his own - or his bosses'-corrupt misuse or actual theft of the money? That is what the investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman will have to determine... There is a resident COA man or woman assigned to every government office. Those who were in the offices where failure to liquidate cash advances happened must also be questioned. For if every resident COA auditor did his or her job assiduously such failures to liquidate cash advances would not happen or would be exposed before the amounts grew so large. Resident COA auditors could actually nip acts of graft and corruption in the bud or would at least keep them from becoming monstrous scams. The problem is thatwe are basing this statement on various investigations and congressional hearingsthe perpetrators of corruption often include the resident COA man among the sharers of the illegally acquired wealth...The Ombudsman's investigations, not just into the unliquidated cash advances but also into actual corruption cases being prosecuted, must look into what the resident COA auditor did or did not do. President Benigno Aquino 3rd's efforts to uproot corruption in every government agency must include the search of many hundreds of Elliot Ness types to man the central office of the COA and to place as resident auditors in the government agencies.

CONTROL OVER LAND TITLES NATIONWIDE: This week, two national agency officials (husband and wife) faced graft charges reportedly for: 1) not stating their true assets, liabilities, and net worth and 2) unexplained wealth amounting to P15 M. The two were employees of a national office involved in confirming titles over private land/subdivision.

BAD HABITS DIE HARD: There is a culture of corruption in the Philippines that will be difficult to change overnight or even in the next six years. Corruption, as a major factor of poverty, has become so endemic that eradicating it will have to be undertaken not only systematically and consistently but also in small doses. There are residual practitioners of corruption who either do not believe that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is determined or serious with his mandate, or they do not believe that the laudable anti-corruption campaign can be sustained under the existing political environment and culture. - Hector R.R. Villanueva in Manla Bulletin

PEOPLE POWER THROUGH THE INTERNET: The Brazilian Congress recently passed a law, Ficha Limpa (Clean Criminal Record), that bars politicians with criminal records from running for public office.

SELF-INDULGENT PUBLIC WORKERS STEAL TOWELS DURING SEMINAR: ...some employees allegedly made off with a five-star resort's towels. The incident occurred after the Capitol's assessment seminar workshop attended by officials and employees alike...government workers are paid by taxpayers not only to serve their basic needs but also to act appropriately at work and even at play. Apparently those workers who stayed at the resort probably thought they were on vacation and can do anything they please such as taking items they didn't pay for with their own's still the money of Cebuano taxpayers that were used to pay for the seminar in that resort and it is their money that will be used to pay for the "misplaced" towels. Whoever was responsible for that incident should be sanctioned immediately and reminded that they were appointed to their posts to serve and not to engage in rude, self-indulgent behavior in high-priced resorts.

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Ehem -- the anti-corruption initiative of the Philippine Jesuits echoes the urgent call for cultural reform against corruption in the Philippines.
Ehem aims at bringing people to a renewed sensitivity to the evil of corruption and its prevalence in ordinary life. It seeks ultimately to make them more intensely aware of their own vulnerability to corruption, their own uncritiqued, often unwitting practice of corruption in daily life.
Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical of corruption, intent on integrity!
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