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American graft-buster urges public to watch government deals

AQUINO: SUPREME COURT AIDS CORRUPTION >>> President Benigno Aquino 3rd accused the Supreme Court of aiding corruption after it blocked his move to fire officials linked to millions of dollars' worth of allegedly shady deals. He lashed at the 15-member High Court, a day after it issued a temporary injunction against his move to sack from the bureaucracy key allies of his predecessor and now lawmaker Gloria Arroyo, who he alleges to be corrupt..."This order has the potential to derail or even nullify our efforts to uncover and reverse 'midnight' deals, streamline the bureaucracy and implement reforms to bring back good governance," President Aquino told a press conference. The order "would enable those who had participated in midnight deals to, at the very least, cover their tracks, and complete these acts inimical to the public interest"...

Truth body to probe over 20 scandals, including C-5 mess >>> Among the scandals that the truth body may look into are: ***the $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal***the P728-million fertilizer fund scam***the C-5 road controversy***"Hello Garci" election scandal***--- the commission has come up with a shortlist of 23 possible large-scale corruption cases that it may look into

PHILIPPINES SLIPS >>> in terms of providing a strong justice system and addressing corruption, according to a new global index upholding the rule of law. The World Justice Project (WJP) found the Philippines dragged down by weak justice systems and corruption in the latest version of its Rule of Law Index...The Philippines also fared poorly in all factors of the category "access to justice" in the 2009 index....Access to justice subfactors are impartial and accountable judicial system; efficient, accessible and effective judicial system; competent and independent attorneys or representatives; fair and efficient alternative dispute resolution; and fair and efficient traditional justice.

GMA "SHOWERED" HOME DISTRICT WITH FUNDS: Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo used her presidential powers to secure the P2.2 billion worth of projects for her home district in Pampanga...In a press conference, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said he obtained the information from the Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary...Bello accused Mrs. Arroyo of padding the budget allotted for the 2nd district of Pampanga with projects worth a total of P2.22 billion funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Korea Economic Development and Cooperation Fund (KEDCF)...for projects to be implemented exclusively in her district while she was still the highest official of the land. "Before she left office, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used the presidency to engineer perpetually high funding for the 2nd district of Pampanga," said Bello...of the P2.242 billion allotted total budget for Pampangas' 2nd district, only P22.184 million, or one peso for every P100, will come from the national government..."It is outrageous that the DPWH has control over barely 1% of the budget for public works in the 2nd district of Pampanga," Bello pointed out. "Even the Secretary himself has conceded that he is helpless when it comes to the loans that Arroyo has contracted."

"BIGGEST" SMUGGLING RAP IN HISTORY: Oil giant Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. is facing a multi-billion-peso technical smuggling complaint the Bureau of Customs lodged before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the biggest in Philippine history. Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the oil firm wrongfully declared and classified petroleum importations from August 2005 to May 2009, defrauding the government of about P24.4 billion in excise and value-added taxes.

SHELL SUED: Philippines files US$567m suit against Shell unit >>> "This criminal complaint against Pilipinas Shell should prove to everyone that President Aquino's campaign against smuggling, corruption and other economic crimes respect no sacred cows," Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez told reporters. In total, the government was seeking 24.486 billion pesos (100 pesos = RM7.14), including lost revenues of 2.7 billion pesos and penalties, a record claim.

Reward System on Good Governance Bared >>> The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that the cities and municipalities that have complied with the agency's no-jueteng policy and other transparency requirement will be given incentives as part of its program on good governance.

FOI RESURRECTION: Press club hails Senate for swift action on Freedom of Information bill considered by press freedom advocates as an important legislative measure but shelved by the previous Congress.

HELICOPTER ACQUISITION MIRED BY CORRUPTION CHARGES: Corruption allegations have put a temporary stop to procurement of helicopters for the air force and navy. Agusta-Westlands Polish subsidiary, PZL-Swidnik, was selected to provide seven W-3 Sokol attack helicopters for the air force in a deal reportedly worth $73 million. Some politicians have raised concerns that corruption may have tainted the selection process for the attack helicopters. "It is suspicious that five of the six interested bidders backed out of the bidding process," says opposition politician and former investigative journalist Teddy Casino. "These included such big names as Boeing, Asian Aerospace Corp. [and] MD Helicopters, Eurocopter, Elbit Systems [and] Joavi Philippines and the Russian Federation [Rosoboronexport]."

MORE GHOSTS AMONG US: Lawyers of the state-run Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) are about to wrap up an "airtight case" against controversial real estate firm Globe of the agencies under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council...accused of allegedly using ineligible and "ghost" borrowers in securing billions of pesos worth of housing loans from Pag-IBIG.

MORE HUGE SALARIES: Philippine National Construction Corp. PNCC) president and chief executive officer (CEO) Maria Theresa Defensor earned P7.5 million a month from the company...the top 15 officials of PNCC earned P58.8 million in basic salaries...Aside from their huge salaries and bonuses, PNCC's top officials are also receiving profit shares of up to 10% before taxes.

IMPEACHMENT: "WASTE OF TIME" >>> The impeachment case against Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez is a "waste of time" and could be politically costly for the Aquino adminstration, legal luminaries said...Gutierrez's remaining term "is for two years only," and that the protracted impeachment proceedings against her before the House of Representatives and the Senate could possibly go beyond two years...Meanwhile, rank and file employees of the anti-graft body expressed their continuing support for Gutierrez.

Deputy Ombudsman wanted P250K - Mendoza lawyer >>> "The proximate cause of his (Mendoza's) actuation being the slow wheels of justice and in this case, at the Office of the Ombudsman," the IIRC report states. (See the article for an extensive discussion of the case).

OMB GETS MORE POWER: The Supreme Court has extended the power of the Office of Ombudsman to immediately implement its rulings on administrative cases pending appeals in courts. The new ruling of the court means the anti-graft office now has more power since it can now implement rulings on all administrative cases, not just those with minor penalties.

Truth body gets down to business, gathers info on corruption scandals

OMBUDSMAN'S "INEFFICIENCY" MADE TRUTH BODY NECESSARY: Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez's alleged ineptitude in prosecuting corrupt officials in the past administration prompted President Benigno Aquino III to create the Truth Commission, the government told the Supreme Court.."The creation of the Truth Commission was spurred by the fact that the Ombudsman seems not effective at all, as shown by its conviction rate and many reported cases of graft and corruption," said Solicitor General Anselmo Cadiz at the resumption of the oral arguments on the petition assailing the creation of the Truth Commission...Cadiz said the commission can help the Ombudsman improve its six-percent conviction rate regarding the cases filed at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

MORE BAD COPS: 3 Quezon City cops dismissed from service, found guilty of extortion, sexual harassment...the three arrested Camal Pendag, without search warrants, at his home after they claimed to have received a tip that there were illegal drugs in Camal's house...Camal's wife, Maria, was also brought to the police station for interrogation during which a policeman told her that her husband would be released if she would have sex with him. Maria did not agree to the proposal, but she was eventually told to go home. The police officers also asked P10,000 from Camal for his immediate release, records showed.

Alleged jueteng lords, operators snub Senate probe

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S. Government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) signed a partnership agreement on October 12 to provide capacity-building support for the reform and modernization of tax administration in the Philippines. This is the IMF's first agreement of this kind with the United States. "Under the agreement, MCC will contribute US$4.6 million for technical assistance by the IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department to help the Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) improve its revenue administration policies and procedures. This will pay for a resident advisor to the BIR and a significant number of short-term technical assistance missions by IMF experts to assist with a wide variety of technical tax administration issues...The funding is part of MCCs US$434 million poverty reduction compact with the Republic of the Philippines, which includes a US$54.3 million investment to computerize and streamline business processes in the BIR. The 40-month project will bolster the effectiveness of revenue collection and reduce opportunities for corruption.

US TAPS IMF TO KEEP TABS ON BIR: The BUREAU OF iNTERNAL rEVENUE haS often been seen as one of the most graft-prone agencies in the Philippines. The World Bank, IMF and other international financial organizations have often cited the need for the government to plug loopholes in revenue collections so the Philippines can raise enough money to pay for expanding basic services and development.

GOVERNMENT WILL RENEGOTIATE: multi-million-dollar contract for the North Rail project with China because of technical and legal problems...The project to rehabilitate 80.2 kilometers of the Philippine National Railways' North Line was originally expected to cost $400 million, with financing from a Chinese loan, but the cost was later raised to $600 million when the rail project was redesigned to comply with international standards...a University of the Philippines study said the North Rail project violated the countrys procurement laws because the contract was awarded to the Chinese contractor without public bidding.

Businessman Crisologo Saavedra has filed four complaints against Capitol officials before the anti-graft office...His latest was the graft complaint and the abuse of authority, oppression and misconduct complaints...

NO IMMUNITY, NO TESTIMONY: Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will appear before the Sandiganbayan and testify in connection with the botched national broadband deal with China's ZTE Corp. only if the Supreme Court says so or if she is given immunity...

Arroyo seeks subpoena cancellation >>> Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now the representative of Pampanga's second district, has asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to nullify her subpoena to testify as a witness in the graft trial of former economic planning secretary Romulo Neri over the scrapped $329-million National Broadband Network deal.

Prosecutors insist: GMA must testify in ZTE case

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno warns of vote-buying in barangay polls >>> Puno said electoral fraud means the most deserving candidate may not necessarily win, and the one who can buy votes may end up getting of the biggest problems of the 21st century is the large gap between the rich and the poor, which has also affected governance. The fact that many sell their votes due to poverty is a sad reality in the Philippines...

BLACK LISTED, BUT STILL BIDDING: Three Philippine construction companies and the owner of one firm have remained on the World Bank's blacklist for alleged fraud and corruption. The international lender updated its list of debarred companies and individuals worldwide, with 45 more blacklisted after year-long anti-corruption investigations. C.M. Pancho Construction Inc., Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp., and E.C. De Luna Construction Corp. were accused by the institution's anti-fraud watchdog in January last year of forming a cartel to secure a major WB-financed roads project in the Philippines. The trio, including E.C. De Luna owner Eduardo de Luna, were found to have violated the WB's Procurement Guidelines 1.15(a)(ii) pertaining to fraud in connection with the bank-funded National Roads Improvement and Management Program 1. "'Fraudulent practice' means a misrepresentation of facts in order to influence a procurement process or the execution of a contract to the detriment of the Borrower, and includes collusive practices among bidders... designed to establish bid prices at artificial, non-competitive levels and to deprive the Borrower of the benefits of free and open competition," according to the WB... The debarment, however, has not prevented C.M. Pancho and Cavite Ideal from joining the bidding for other infrastructure projects. The two companies have tendered bids for a P706-million Plaridel Bypass Road project in Bulacan that is being co-financed by the Japanese government...

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed a bill that seeks to open Presidential records to the public. Senate Bill No. 1528, also known as the Presidential Records Act, aims to set the management, custody, and access to Presidential records consistent with the constitutional mandate of transparency and accountability in government, she said.

VISAYAS SOLON CRIES FOUL: over the accusation of some partylist representatives that the P50 million worth of assured public works project in various congressional districts is a bribe to approve Malacañang's cash transfer program, which has been questioned by critics. "By twisting the facts and insinuating ill motives, I think several party-list solons want to dip their sticky finger into the regular projects of DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) in various districts in the country," Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said in a text message to reporters.

NO PORK HIKE? BUT KEEP INFRASTRUCTURE FAT >>> Despite claims that congressmen have unreasonably increased their "pork barrel" allocations, members of the House of Representatives Sunday vowed not to give up the maximum P50 million funding for infrastructure projects in all congressional districts in the country.

NEW PORK FOR "DISADVANTAGED": The additional congressional infrastructure allocation amounts to less than one-tenth of one percent of the proposed P1.64 trillion national budget for next year and is limited to only "disadvantaged" districts, a senior administration lawmaker said...

First plunder complaint vs Arroyo filed >>> A plunder complaint was filed against former President Gloria Arroyo for failing to remit to government coffers tax collected from the sale of the old Iloilo airport. The government sold the 54.5-hectare airport in Mandurriao, Iloilo to property giant Megaworld Corp. for P1.2 billion in 2007. In the complaint filed before the Department of Justice, Danilo Lihaylihay, president of Philippine Association of Revenue Informers Inc. and chief investigator of Vanguard Anti-graft Task Force Inc. (VAGTFI), said the administration of Arroyo paid to the Treasury the P18 million documentary stamp tax on the sale, but did not remit the P72 million capital gains tax it collected. It is the first plunder complaint filed against Arroyo after she stepped down from the presidency last June 30.

Tesda had "ghost trainings," group says >>> The questionable advertisement and promotional spending of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) under former Director General Augusto Syjuco is only the tip of the iceberg, according to a confederation of government employees that urged the cracking of the whip against Syjuco. "The recent exposés against Syjuco are part of our complaint against him and we have long pointed out how gross the irregularities were at Tesda under him," Annie Geron, general secretary of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, told the Inquirer...

COA seeks liquidation of barangay's cash advances >>> The honoraria of barangay Cogon Pardo officials and employees are now held captive due to the unliquidated cash advances by its former barangay captain. Cogon Pardo barangay captain Eugenio Gabuya said his political rival and former barangay captain Lyndon Fermo should explain the disbursement of P4.1 million in barangay funds made in 2007. The Commission on Audit (COA) discovered the unliquidated cash advances made between Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2007 during a routine audit. Following the audit finding, the accounting office of the Cebu City government ordered the suspension of the release of the honoraria to incumbent barangay officials and employees pending submission of vouchers and other documents required by COA.

Pag-IBIG officers in Xevera case face sanctions >>> The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) has issued a show-cause order to some of its officers directing them to explain their failure to implement internal control measures in relation to the Xevera housing projects of developer Globe Asiatique. "The order directs the concerned officers to explain why Pag-IBIG should not take any disciplinary action against them," said Emma Linda B. Faria, HDMF officer in charge. Initial results of the investigation ordered by Vice President and Pag-IBIG Chairman Jejomar C. Binay showed that some officers apparently failed to strictly observe guidelines and internal control measures, or to perform their duties and responsibilities within prescribed norms.

AQUINO CITES 100 DAYS' ACCOMPLISHMENTS: President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino boasted of strengthening the fight against corruption and leading a frugal government in his First 100 days in office. Aquino cited his administration's discovery of anomalous benefits of officials of Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and in Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. He also mentioned that government projects were being studied thouroughly to minimize government spending...Under his watch, government has also strengthened battle against tax evaders... Aquino, meanwhile, likened the previous administration to Tatlong Matsing, for being deaf, blind, and for lying.

President Benigno Aquino said his 100 day-old "war on corruption" has restored business confidence in the Philippines, yielding tens of thousands of new jobs and better economic growth prospects. "We are are ready for take off, and we have accomplished this because you believe in my government and that belief is now spilling out over the world," ...the first three months of his rule were devoted to cleaning out the government stables of the corruption that blighted the previous administration...he has blocked questionable government contracts and withdrawn perks enjoyed by executives of government corporations, which he said prevented the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers' money. "Jobs are the principal agenda of my administration," he said, adding that the new government has attracted 2.4 billion dollars in fresh foreign investments and created 43,600 new jobs. But Aquino lamented that corruption remains a problem, and hit out at political opponents he accused of profiting from the misery of the poor.

Former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio said the police, in cahoots with local government officials, prevented him from stopping jueteng operations in the "Vatican of jueteng in the Philippines." In his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing, Panlilio said that while he was able to curb corruption and complete pending infrastructure projects in the province, "the only campaign promise I was not able to fulfill was stoppage of the operations of jueteng in the province."

Former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo on Wednesday personally responded to the first of many corruption complaints being readied against her, saying there was no sign she was guilty. Arroyo, who stepped down in June amid widespread allegations of graft, filed a counter-affidavit at the Justice Department, replying to a subpoena from prosecutors looking into an accusation against her. "By the allegations of the complaint, I am not even alleged to have amassed, accumulated or acquired any wealth, and particularly, ill-gotten wealth," Arroyo said in her counter-affidavit.

Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, counsel for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, branded as "ridiculous" the plunder case filed against the former leader in connection with the sale of the old Iloilo airport three years ago to a private corporation.

MAN ARRESTED FOR BRIBE ATTEMPT: A man was arrested for allegedly attempting to bribe a policeman with P12,000 in exchange for the release of two jueteng bet collectors apprehended in Quezon City...

The Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court refused to grant bail for 2 of the so-called Alabang Boys caught in a buy-bust operation in late 2009. Muntinlupa fiscal Agripino Baybay said the court found the prosecution's evidence strong enough to disprove the innocence of the so-called Alabang Boys...The Philippine Drug and Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had claimed that a P50 million bribe was paid by some individuals for the release of the 3 suspects from detention. The case against the 3 was dismissed by the prosecutors on Dec. 2, 2009 for lack of probable cause. This same controversy prompted Malacañang to create an independent panel to determine those involved in the alleged bribery scandal. It then overturned the prosecutor's findings and ordered the DOJ to file the necessary charges against the Alabang Boys.

Senate probe on Pag-IBIG loan mess starts >>> Sen. Serge Osmeña III said the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies will start an inquiry into the alleged use of Pag-IBIG funds for bogus home loans and questionable housing development projects.

Pag-IBIG admits lapses in P6.6-B housing loan mess >>> An official of state-run Home Development Mutual Fund, or Pag-IBIG Fund, admitted that there were lapses that allowed a developer (Globe Asiatique) to take up loan proceeds for questionable housing projects.

Analyst gives PNoy 1.8 grade for first 100 days >>> Using UP's grading scale of 1 to 5 (1 is highest), UP National College of Public Administration and Governance Prof. Prospero de Vera, said that he is giving President Arroyo a 1.8 overall grade for his performance during the first 100 days.

Impeachment vs. Ombudsman an act of vindictiveness - Cuevas >>> Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas maintained before the Supreme Court that the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez were done in haste.

50% BELIEVE TAXES MISSPENT: Filipinos think that the government misspends over half (51%) of the taxes they pay, an estimate that is practically similar to the global average. But although Filipinos think that much of their tax money is not spent in the public interest, they remain generally favorable to their government taking an active role in the economy. Eight in 10 support increasing government regulation, which is significantly higher than the global average of 67%. More than half (57%) of Filipinos favor cutting some spending or increasing some taxes to alleviate the deficit, a number slightly above the global average of 51%. Asked to choose, they overwhelmingly prefer (81%) prefer cutting services rather than increasing taxes, which is significantly higher than the global average of 54%.

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR-13, Cebu City) Regional Director Jose N. Tan speaking before public information officers (PIOs) of local government units (LGUs) and national government agencies said that they are trying to eliminate or reduce corruption in their office. "As the head of BIR-13 and confined to the four walls of my office, I wouldn?t know what is happening outside if there is no taxpayer who would come forward to tell me that any of our employees here is trying to ask money or commit corrupt practices..."

COA seeks explanation of P4.1 - million IA bonuses to employees >>> The Commission on Audit has sought an explanation from the Intramuros Administration for giving more than P4.1 million in additional compensation to its employees last year. State auditors reported that IA's grant of incentive bonuses and calamity relief allowances was unauthorized.

THE GOVERNMENT has suspended two tenders for military helicopters worth about $90 million due to suspicions of graft, the Defense department said..."There are alleged collusions or conceived collusions between members of those involved in the procurement with some suppliers in the crafting of the technical specifications that suited a particular manufacturer..."

AQUINO UNFAZED BY POOR MARKS: "The President has said he will do his job regardless of what people say or what pundits will say," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters...the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said Mr. Aquino deserved a grade of 80-90 percent because of his policies to cut red tape and improve the business climate...among the achievements of the administration was the cancellation of 19 "midnight deals" worth P934 million in the Department of Public Works and Highways. He said the Bureau of Internal Revenue was able to file many tax evasion cases while the Bureau of Customs, many smuggling cases. The government also moved to slash excessive salaries and benefits of officials in government-owned and -controlled corporations as well as implemented austerity measures, the spokesperson said. The administration is also implementing a reform project worth P54.3 million and a zero-based budgeting system...Despite the accomplishments listed by Lacierda, reporters covering the Malacañang beat have not been swayed into giving Mr. Aquino a high grade. In an informal survey, 17 Palace reporters gave Mr. Aquino a C; seven gave him a D; two gave him a B and one, an E.

Escudero Gives P-Noy High Mark in Fight vs Corruption >>> Senator Chiz Escudero gave President Aquino III a high mark in the government's campaign against graft and corruption. "I will give him a grade of 9 out of 10 in his fight against corruption," said Escudero. However, he is not too generous to the President's Cabinet members whom he gave only 6 to 7 passing marks.

DPWH wants accounting, civil engineer students to help transparency program >>> Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson urged accounting and civil engineering students to be more active in the government's transparency program by monitoring the project cost and quality of major roads and bridges to be constructed by the department.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson warned district engineers in Eastern Visayas to start cleaning up their act as the agency would have zero-tolerance for those involved in graft and corruption. It was about time the image of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as one of the most corrupt-ridden government agencies be made "a thing of the past," Singson said. "There will be no mercy for you if you are caught..."

Sandiganbayan convicts Bureau of Customs official of estafa and violating anti-graft law for trying to sell impounded car to private individual, and failing to deliver product despite payment.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima: We need more stringent legislative measures to eradicate corruption, a "common epidemic."

The Senate is not too keen on extending its "jueteng" probe because the issue has come down to two choices for the Aquino administration - undertake an all-out war against the illegal numbers game or legalize it.

BAD EXAMPLE: Thirty years ago, the Philippines' economy was double that of Thailand but due to corruption it plunged and this happened in just one generation, Utis Kaothien, senior adviser to the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission, said last week. He recalled the days when he pursued an education in the Philippines. Back then, a peso bought Bt3. Now, it |has weakened against the Thai baht, as the economy there has not yet fully recovered from the massive graft, which shows that corruption wreaks havoc on the economy and society.

PALACE GIVES ITSELF GOOD MARKS: Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he is satisfied with the progress made by the administration in its 2 key programs. "Maganda naman po in terms of our programs. We have 2 platforms, we have 2 programs and that is poverty alleviation and eradication of corruption. We're on track on those two levels . As you know, we have started also our poverty alleviation program. Pati pag waksi ng corruption, we have been filing cases on a weekly basis with respect to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs..."

Archbishop Cruz gives President Aquino a "C"

Training Lawmakers on Transparency and Accountability

Public works chief vows zero tolerance for graft

Filipinos Hopeful on Aquino's Drive vs Corruption >>> Filipinos hope that President Aquino would succeed in his anti-corruption campaign to improve their lives and to cleanse the bad image of the Philippine government where the international community placed it 139th among the 180 most corrupt countries, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara said...

AQUINO: GET TOUGH ON LAUNDERING >>> President Aquino sees the need to amend the law that created the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which recently admitted being helpless in going after big-time operators of the illegal numbers game jueteng. "The AMLC is our vital weapon and component against corruption," the President said in a phone interview, noting that this office should be given more teeth in fulfilling its mandate by way of checking the assets of suspected criminals, or the fruits of their illegal activities. The government will be checking on the wealth of certain personalities. Mr. Aquino pointed out that if their assets do not match their legitimate income, then it indicates that the source of the wealth needs to be investigated.

Aquino Cites Improvements in Public Governance:

Bureau of Immigration Reviewing All Contracts from Past Administration

The chairman of the Good Governance and Accountability of Hermosa, Bataan, disclosed that the multi-million-peso flood control mess that they are investigating is just a tip of the ice berg, and that this is like opening a can of worms. Edy Yandoc, chairman of the town's newly-created Ad Hoc committee on Good Governance here, said that the unearthing of the alleged P13-million flood control mess is just a drop in the bucket and that more irregularities involving millions of pesos in alleged anomalous transactions in the previous years will be investigated in the coming days by his committee.


RP must fulfill its promise
to stamp out corruption

Sen. Edgardo J. Angara today said that the Philippines is mandated to fulfill its promise to stamp out corruption, to show the world that the recent grant of $400-million by the Millennium Challenge Fund is timely and well-deserved.

Angara, host of the recently concluded Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) and South East Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) conference, which was held at the Sofitel Hotel, Philippine Plaza, also said that the country, being a member of GOPAC and SEAPAC, will have to "step-up to the task" that the conference has set forth on its members.

The GOPAC-SEAPAC conference now mandates all member-country to assist any victimized country, especially in the area of asset-recovery, where money-laundering activities are concerned.

Among the policies agreed upon by participants to the two-day conference was to allow citizens full information about government operations. The Philippines is currently awaiting the approval of a similar measure, called the Freedom of Information act, which will grant access to files and other documents pertaining to government transactions and policies that will directly affect society.

"Although we have made inroads in our fight against corruption, this monster is still holding back our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals set forth 10 years ago," Angara said.

"Strict adherence to the policies discussed in the recent GOPAC SEAPAC meeting will allow us to meet the MDGs, and also enable us to utilize much needed funds in projects geared towards the alleviation of poverty," Angara added.

According to a Transparency International report, new analysis "demonstrates a strong and positive correlation between increased transparency, accountability and integrity and better MDG outcomes on education, health and water in more than 48 countries."

The same report also said that for the MDGs to be achieved by 2015, world leaders and national policy-makers must finally link development and governance policies as part of the same plan.

The report goes on to say that "marrying the two supports not only the success of the MDGs, but also the fulfillment of past global commitments. These include government pledges made to fight corruption, achieve aid effectiveness and improve development financing, as part of the UN Convention against Corruption (2003).

"For us to meet the global obligations of the MDGs, we must be serious in supporting our government?s action plans and policies that incorporate transparency, accountability and integrity measures, especially those set forth in the recent GOPAC-SEAPAC conference," Angara said.

COA'S COSTLY "WINK": In its Sept. 9 editorial, the Inquirer highlighted a reign of greed in government-owned and -controlled corporations and corporate financial institutions where officials raked in gargantuan salaries, allowances and bonuses by the tens of millions of pesos yearly. The editorial noted that the Department of Budget Management has disallowed allowances and bonuses it deemed excessive or illegal. However, the Commission on Audit "merely winked at such violations" of government's own rules. Specifically, a presidential decree and an executive order, not to mention the Constitution, have failed to spark the COA into action as a watchdog. To our mind, COA's myopia becomes puzzling in the face of a constitutional proscription against "irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures"... It indeed appears that the financial mess at the GOCCs and CFIs has continued and aggravated because of the inhibition of the COA to exercise its mandate. Its wink at the captains of the GOCCs and the gnomes of CFIs has constituted patent criminal conspiracy and constitutional nonfeasance, for which the people expect the Drilon committee to make the COA accountable. NELSON D. LAVIÑA, Philippine Daily Inquirer - 10/02/2010

CONSTRAINTS TO GROWTH: The third major constraint is weak investor confidence due to governance concerns, in particular, corruption and political stability. Corruption, political instability, and weak rule of law have had significant negative effects on investment. Other related critical constraints to growth are high tax rate and poor tax administration and cumbersome business procedures and over-regulation...Good governance does not mean control of corruption exclusively; it has a broader meaning. It means a stable government with respect for the rule of law and order. It means a government committed to a stable, transparent, and unbiased set of goals and strategies. It means a government that can deliver quality services effectively and efficiently, a reliable regulatory framework, and a capable and empowered bureaucracy - BusinessWorld

CHANGING THE OLD SYSTEM: President Benigno Aquino III said that the top challenge he faces is changing the old, well-entrenched system which has worsened in the last ten years. He mentioned this in light of his vision to eradicate corruption in government and to promote good governance. This may be painful for the President to face, but he has to realize that while the 1987 Constitution was his mother's legacy to the Filipino people, it is time to study whether the Constitution is serving the Filipino people well or has played a role in fomenting the undesirable system which the President now seeks to change. - Rita Linda V. Jimeno in Manila Standard

Philippines arrests ex-US diplomat accused of S.Korea fraud

Tomas was involved in checking shipping containers in the southern port of Busan for Homeland Security. Police accuse him of swindling a South Korean widow out of 220 million won (200,000 dollars) by asking her to invest in a computer training school in the Philippines. In March a federal grand jury in the United States charged him with defrauding investors by falsely promising to open the computer school.



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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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