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

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A Malacañang official summoned by a Senate committee looking into anomalies in the huge state housing loans obtained by businessman Delfin Lee said she was not involved in the management of the funds. "I'm willing to face any investigation regarding this matter," said Undersecretary Mary Antoinette Lucille Ortile, who was secretary general of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC or Pag-IBIG Fund) before her present position at the Office of the Executive Secretary

A key witness in the $329-million telecommunications contract by the government with a Chinese firm testified that then former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri approved the agreement in exchange for P200 million. Rodolfo Jun Lozada told a local court that former Commission on Elections chief Benjamin Abalos informed him that he would give Neri P200 million after the contract was approved. Lozada said he mentioned this to Neri, who had no violent reaction.

Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund) officials felt the ire of lawmakers who questioned alleged anomalous housing loans extended to borrowers in two Xevera housing projects by Globe Asiatique

SOUND & HEAT OVER COA REPORTS: Each time the Commission on Audit (COA) releases reports of audits on spending by local governments, noise erupts and sparks fly from offended LGUs. One must routinely expect the sound and fireworks that COA reports set off but they're increasing each year in intensity and capacity to infuriate. It's COA's job: examine and audit received/spent public funds and use of state properties, adopt needed rules, report on finances and operations, and recommend measures to make them effective and efficient. No one disputes with COA functions. It's the rules and how they're enforced that must cause the furor.

Immigration bureau steps up drive vs trafficking, corruption

TAX EVASION & DISCRETION: ...some 99.9 percent of the administrative decision to collect taxes, duties, fees, etc., is subject to the full discretion of the examiner, supervisor, collector, or any official nearest to the action viewing the objects subject to any kind of tax or duty... According to Palace sources, more such cases will be filed against persons who ignore or defy the tax laws. The exceptions may land in the long list: 1) Corrupt government officials, 2) smugglers of basic and luxury items, 3) those engaged in illegal gambling, and 4) illegal loggers, among them elective local officials.

BIR Rejects Ex-SSS Chief's Tax Appeal

There are signs that reforms are happening in three of these government agencies - the courts under Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the BIR with straight-dealing Kim Henares and DPWH under Rogelio Singson. Corruption has thrived in these government agencies all these years. It has outlived administrations from Quirino to Arroyo. Will President Aquino make a dent in the thick hide of the corrupt?

NOT IN OUR LIFETIME!: One BIR official this week sadly admitted that corruption at the bureau cannot be stopped at least in our lifetime. Let's take a closer look at the causes: 1) Most or "some" businessmen, big and small, prefer to talk first about "discount" on taxes, like a senior citizen's 20 percent for all medicines and food at restaurants and dinners. 2) The BIR examiner is always prepared to revise his assessment knowing where to get his "cut" (usually bigger than the governments take). 3) The discussion stretches endlessly until the BIR agent and taxpayer make a number of nods and part after a handshake. 4) Sanctions on crooks like a slap on the wrist dont scare the culprits out of their wits.

Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) says graft and corruption in the agency can hardly be eliminated during the Aquino administration, "perhaps not even in our lifetime." * * * The BIR head says "All we can do is minimize it and those caught committing the offense should be severely punished."

GOOD GOVERNANCE SEMINAR: More than one hundred local public officials and employees, students, and representatives of national government agencies participated in the seminar that tackled current issues on Governance, Social Accountability and the Environment organized by the Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines, Inc (ASPAP-West Visayas Chapter). The event, in coordination with the West Visayas State University, Master in Public Governance, was held in Iloilo City, November 5.

Visayas Ombudsman Suspends Cebu Town Treasurer

SANDIGANBAYAN QUITS FOUR: the graft court reversed its June 10, 2010 verdict convicting Escala, Navy Captain Jesus Biola, chairman of the canvass and award committee; and Commander Aristotle Guzman and Lieutenant Commander Leonardo Gamboa, members of the same committee, of falsification of public documents in connection with alleged fraudulent bidding for medical supplies between October 1990 and July 1992

The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed from the service another Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) examiner for demanding P50,000 from a land broker in Lapu-Lapu City four years ago. Graft Investigator Sarah Jo Vergara denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Omar Mamongcara, revenue officer II assigned at BIR-Mandaue City, which sought to reverse the decision dismissing him from the service.

AMPATUANS CHARGED: Relatives of journalists who were killed in the Maguindanao massacre of November 2009 filed complaints of graft and corruption and money laundering against the Ampatuansthe key suspects in the bloodbath of 57 persons and former presidential adviser Jesus Dureza, among other individuals.

TRAFFIC ENFORCER CHARGED WITH BRIBERY: A traffic enforcer is facing charges in court for allegedly demanding money from a taxi driver whom he cited for a traffic violation...When the driver tried to haggle for P50, Catoto said the amount was too small and confiscated his drivers license. The driver was told to prepare P3,000 for the release of his license.

EX-COMELEC OFFICIAL ACQUITTED: The Sandiganbayan yesterday acquitted a former election official of graft for lack of sufficient evidence. The Sandiganbayan's First Division said the prosecution failed to produce enough evidence to prove former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco was guilty of graft beyond reasonable doubt. The charges stemmed from accusations that Tancangco was directly involved in the awarding of a P6.62-billion Voters Registration and Identification System (VRIS) project to Photokina Marketing Corp.

SENATE OFFICE DEFENDS ALLOWANCES: Allowances of more than P1million a year granted to Senate officials and employees are in accordance with law, the Senate said yesterday. In a letter to the Commission on Audit (COA), Senate Secretary Emma Lirio-Reyes said the Senate leadership granted the allowances without violating the Salary Standardization Law.

LOZADA GOING HOME: Whistle-blower Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. would finally be leaving the custody of the religious with hopes of leading a normal life. Lozada said the nuns who had taken care of him and his family would hold a farewell Mass for him today at La Salle Greenhills in San Juan. Lozada said he would deliver a statement to express his gratitude to those who had helped him during the time when his life was at risk for exposing anomalies in the national broadband network (NBN) deal between the Arroyo administration and Chinese firm ZTE Corp. "After almost three years, finally we are going back home..."

THE ECONOMICS OF BRIBERY: A bribery transaction will always involve a supply side and a demand side. Companies that might otherwise be tempted to bribe represent the supply side, while corrupt public officials occupy the demand side of the equation. In a competitive market, the price of bribe will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by bribe receivers will equal the quantity supplied by the bribers. Theoretically then, corruption has an equilibrium point...

SENATOR; PENSION FUNDS = PUBLIC TRUST: The tax evasion raps filed by the tax bureau against former pension fund executives highlight the fiduciary responsibility public officials have when handling other people's money, Senator Frank Drilon said. "These are trust funds that do not belong to themselves and to the government, but to the workers. It is the fiduciary obligation of the commissioners of SSS (Social Security System) to protect the trust fund and not appropriate for themselves huge amounts of money in the form of obscene allowances,"

"I FILED": Ex-Pension Fund Chair denies tax evasion charges

Neri denies tax raps, cites late receipt of income

EX-SSS EXECS FACE TAX EVASION RAPS: The Bureau of Internal Revenue has filed separate tax evasion complaints against former Social Security System president Romulo Neri and SSS chairman Thelmo Cunanan for supposedly failing to declare their full income and to pay the proper amount of income taxes in the past years. In the complaints lodged before the Department of Justice on Thursday, the BIR said Neri and Cunanan failed to declare the income they earned as board members of Philex Mining Corp. and Unionbank of the Philippines.

CoST-MPI webpage to make dubious infra projects "thing of the past"...The MPI webpage will enable the disclosure of accurate information on certain government infrastructure projects that will pave the way for an informed evaluation and appreciation of the said projects by the public and stakeholders.

A police official sentenced to jail last month for P20-million worth of ghost purchases made in 1992 has appealed the Sandiganbayan's ruling finding him guilty of violating the anti-graft law, and asked for an acquittal.

ROGUE POLICE LAW URGED: Citing an international body's report that Philippines is among the "highly corrupt" countries in the world, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara asked the leadership of Congress to act swiftly on the proposed "anti-kotong" law in a bid to erase the stigma of corruption associated with law enforcers of the Philippines. Angara, chairman of the House committee on higher education, said the bill specifically deals with extortion by law enforcers and public officials. He added that the stiff penalties imposed by the measure would help reduce, if not eradicate, incidence of extortion among government officers.

Sandiganbayan dismisseS graft charges against 4 transportation officials who pre-qualified consortium that built Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Terminal 3.

BIR COMMISSIONER: We can only minimize corruption in BIR >>> Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) admitted that graft and corruption in the agency cannot be eliminated during the Aquino administration and "perhaps not even in our lifetime." "All we can do is minimize it and those caught committing the offense should be severely punished," the BIR chief said.

BUILDING TO BE FINISHED DESPITE CORRUPTION: In the spirit of good governance, newly installed Mactan Cebu International Airport general manager Nigel Paul Villarete vowed to finish the alleged anomalous construction of the airport's administrative building. Villarete said he would be wasting government's money if he abandons the project because of allegations of corruption. "That's not good governance if we are going to waste people's money on structure left standing and not used," Villarete said.

FORMER Aloguinsan mayor Cynthia Moreno, five town officials and two others are facing a graft charge before the Sandiganbayan over the purchase of construction materials worth over P1 million without a public bidding three years ago.

INDICTED AFTER 13 YEARS: A former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) member has been charged for graft and corruption before the Sandiganbayan over cash advances she made 13 years ago. Zorayda Abbas Tamano was accused of pocketing public funds entrusted to her, court records show. Tamano was indicted on Thursday for malversation of public funds and violation of Section 89 of Presidential Decree No. 1445, which penalizes failure to liquidate cash advances,

OMB SUSPENDS 4 CUSTOMS EXECS: The Office of the Ombudsman has suspended for six months four Customs officials after finding sufficient evidence that they were involved in the smuggling of refined sugar into the country.

PROSECUTORS: ENFORCE SUSPENSION OF GOVERNOR >>> Government prosecutors want a 5-year old suspension order finally enforced against Oriental Mindoro provincial governor Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. In an 8-page motion filed before the Sandiganbayan, the prosecutors led by acting deputy special prosecutor Cornelio L. Somido said the 90-day suspension order issued way back January 17, 2005 was never implemented because of the defiance of the House of Representatives.

Agencies unliquidated CAs reduced by P1.6B >>> It takes a few persistent reminders from the Office of the Ombudsman for eight out of nine government agencies to reduce by P1.6 billion their staggering unliquidated cash advances of more than P2 billion...An OMB advisory to the agencies signed by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez directed that salaries or any money due some accountable officers and employees of these agencies shall be withheld with their failure to liquidate their cash advances. The result of which according to the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office was a substantial reduction of about 64 percent in unliquidated cash advances.

SENATOR: "END ROAD BOARD": Senator Franklin Drilon has moved to abolish the controversial Road Board, amid allegations that the proceeds from the motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC) or road user's tax fall to corruption. The board, which oversees the disposal of the road user's tax, has exclusive jurisdiction over the projects which will be funded by the proceeds from MVUC, even as Republic Act 8794 that created it cites specific purposes for its use such as maintenance of roads, improvement of drainage system, installation of road safety devices and air pollution control, said Drilon. "We have heard horror stories regarding the use of MVUC. The problem is the board is the one [which] determines what the projects are..."

OMB DROPS CHARGES: The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has finally dismissed the graft and corruption and grave misconduct charges filed against 14 former top officials of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) on the negotiated sales of its lot in Dagupan City in 2002, it was learned Monday. In dismissing the complaints, the anti-graft body reversed its earlier decision finding the officials guilty of both criminal and administrative complaints, ordering their immediate ouster from the service.

Swerving towards a straight road >>> The Aquino administration's promotion of good governance seem to be paying off...After four months since Aquino assumed the position of presidency, he is now driven more than ever to lead the country towards the "straight path" through the "promotion of good governance..."

OMB OFFICIAL: FIGHT PRIVATE SECTOR CORRUPTION TOO: The Philippines' improvement in an international survey that gauged the level of corruption of each nation reflects the countrys needs to also fight "private sector corruption," which at times, act as the "supply side" of bribe, an official of the Office of the Ombudsman said. Transparency International (TI) revealed that the Philippines landed on the 134th place, a five-point improvement from 2009's 139th ranking. The country ranked 141st in 2008. Despite the improvement in ranking, the country is still categorized under "highly corrupt." "....the Philippines improved its rank but not its CPI. We need also a law to criminalize private sector corruption or supply side. Both the bribe giver and taker [should] be prosecuted." In a statement released over the weekend, the anti-graft agency welcomed the improvement in ranking of the country as a "sign of inspiration" for the country's lead anti-graft and corrupt agency. "The latest survey result . . . mirrors the Office of the Ombudsman's success in its anti-corruption efforts," Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn Baliton said in a statement. "The [survey's result] is a proof that the Office of the Ombudsman and all its strategic partners are gaining ground in their multi-sectoral convergence efforts to counter corruption..." Baliton said one of the factors for the enhanced ranking in the Philippines COC category is the increase in the conviction rate of the Ombudsman. Conviction rate of the anti-graft agency improved from 33 percent in 2005, to 73 percent in 2008, the highest conviction rate to date.

Making the dream of a corruption-free RP come true >>> is not too late to make a positive change. The Aquino government has six years to make good on its promise to drastically reduce, if not eradicate, corruption in the country. Given the current situation, however, this is quite a tall order. Impossible even, if government will be expected to do the job alone. This is why various business groups have decided to help make this dream of an almost corruption-free Philippines come true...The Integrity Initiative urges local businesses to commit to exerting efforts to stamp out corruption in the country. It aims to identify issues that relate to integrity and transparency in business transactions, develop a Business Code of Conduct, create an Industry Integrity Pact that provides certain measures and controls to ensure integrity and transparency in business transactions, establish an audit and certification program for local firms, and institutionalize this entire process to promote long-term sustainability.


BARRIERS TO INVESTMENT: Apart from the importance of the leader, the other barriers to investing in the Philippines that we found were: * 1. Contract sanctity violations; * 2. Supreme Court decisions that were anti-business; * 3. The risks created by unclear or changeable regulations; * 4. Interference by local government; * 5. Unreasonable local taxes and fees that are imposed; and * 6. Corruption..... These barriers plus the lack of infrastructure were major reasons why the Philippines sank to 87th out of 133 in the World Economic Freedom competitiveness ranking.

Preserve evidence against cover-up

KEY POLITICAL RISKS TO WATCH: -- Competing interests within the political groups around Aquino, including his family and relatives. Any infighting could hinder policymaking, and could weaken Aquino by reviving concerns over his track record, experience and preparedness. -- Aquino has submitted his budget for 2011, heavy on state dole-outs by a increasing conditional cash transfer programme by more than 120 percent from current appropriations. He has to move past the rhetoric of the campaign and the criticisms of Arroyo as well as deliver a realistic fiscal roadmap that meet his goals of strengthening revenues while spending more on social services and infrastructure, and meeting a target of halving the budget deficit to 2 percent of GDP by the end of 2013. -- Aquino needs to build working relations within the court system, which he wants to reform, to support his plans to investigate Arroyo and officials in several unresolved high-profile corruption and rights abuses cases.


With the new administration about 5 months old, some are enthusiastic about the changes while others are disappointed. In a ventures group, they were gung ho on signs and examples of not succumbing to petty corruption as a signs of change for the better. On the other hand, some business executives recount scarcity of government contracts at present. Their interpretation of this is that entrenched government executives and new influence peddlers are still looking around for who they can corrupt or who they can milk. One foreigner opined that only a French-type revolution can cure the corruption in this country. The need is to root out the mafias in the government departments which are still there. A Filipino business man thought that it is better to invest outside the Philippines because unlike in this country, the legal processes of doing business are transparent and getting permits is helped rather then blocked. Here every petty politician on all levels has his hand out to would be investors. Of course this is a generalization. Some think that nothing that can be done. Our laws have been skewed severely so that dictatorship cannot possibly come again. Any investment has to start with permits from the barangay then to the municipality. Many of the political king pins on these levels have no interest in the national good. They have to take what they can front end. What is in it for us? Give or we block your project. But can you blame them? In the past they were neglected. So the pendulum has swung over to the other side.A large project is almost impossible to start. And it is backed up by the present laws and legalities. Many of these people do not see things with a national perspective and neither do they look to the future. They only see the present and their own interests. For them there is no such thing as the national good. The complaint of former President Clinton applies to us that some voters do not consider the future but only see the present.
Devolution of political power in a democracy to the lowest local level is theoretically correct and Senator Pimentel's legislation was a whiff of fresh air after the dictatorship. But now the negative side of devolution is just appearing. Cooperation in projects that will be good for the country is blocked. It is so rampant that articles praising Bicol where the local officials assist rather than obstruct is worthy of note. The new administration is only five months old and bad habits may still hang around. It is true that time is needed. However, the laws that make it possible to obstruct projects for the common good by petty self-interest have to be addressed. One contractor who recently went to Papua New Guinea was pleasantly surprised that all his legal papers were processed and approved in one and a half days, a process that would have taken him six months to accomplish in the Philippines.
Is our culture stuck to corruption? Morality before World War II was destroyed with the war and the years of dictatorship. However, the seeds of corruption have always been there. There will always be those who will take advantage if they see an opportunity. What are we doing to bring back the sense of morality and respect for property of others? Of course we can turn to the Ten Commandments of which many of our youth now have not heard. Honesty or the honor of honesty was a victim of war. Property violations were trumped by hunger and the right to life. This proper violation of property rights has been carried over to situations where there is no more question of right to life.
Some call it values; others commandments. One of these is respecting the right to property. If it is a question of culture, what are we doing to make honesty a part of our culture, a part of the way we think, and act, and do as the habitual knee jerk? There is need for inculcating these values and enforcing their observance. Are we modifying the laws that made this obstructionism possible? Are we taking the larger picture? Do we consider both the present and the future? Are we inculcating the common good, especially in our youth? Is honesty the best policy? Is the present administration looking more deeply and substantially rather than at symptoms and appearances?

SINGLING OUT THE OMBUDSMAN: Expect the various groups behind the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to step up their propaganda campaign against her as the November 8 resumption of session of Congress nears. Impeachment, as has been pointed out by many people in the past, is a political process. Even if it's a political process impeachment should be based on reason and fairness but apparently this is not the case for the first woman Ombudsman in the Philippines. If you listen to House Justice Committee Chairman Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. the impeachment of Gutierrez is purely a numbers game and if he can get enough votes against Gutierrez she would be impeached regardless of whether there is solid basis for the impeachment complaint. Of course Tupas is biased against Gutierrez. He does not hide the fact that he has an axe to grind against Gutierrez who has filed a case before the Sandiganbayan against his father and namesake former Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. Gutierrez is also investigating a graft case against Tupas Jr.

Philippines needs unity to address corruption and elitism

by Shay Cullen - Friday, October 29, 2010 IN ENERGY
No wonder that the new Philippine “Aquino administration” made anti-corruption its main drive against poverty. “If there is no corruption, there will be no poverty”, says President Noynoy Aquino. This was the slogan that won him the election. It’s so true and yet the solutions are still so hard to find and reform is almost impossible to achieve at this time with many corrupt politicians and their cronies still in government. They are entrenched and are opposing and thwarting the efforts of Aquino to fight corrupt practices.

The Aquino administration is under attack by the opposing elite who have been removed from the highest echelons of power but can still oppose reform from lower levels. They exercise control through cronies in government departments having bought them over with corrupt bonuses and money transfers. We cannot expect the emergence of a clean, honest, corrupt-free government anytime soon. The juggernaut of greed is hard to stop.

The Manila Times where this column is published carried the front page headline a while back - RP remains "Highly corrupt". It quotes Transparency International, the prestigious non-government organization that monitors the ethical practice of governments and corporations around the world. The Philippines has improved this year but has a long long way to go. It ranked a low 141st in 2008 in the ranking of least corrupt "virtuous" nations but has come up to 134th. This year, a modest improvement. Denmark, Singapore, New Zealand ranked first place with identical scores 9.2 out of a top score of ten. The Philippines scored a dismal 2.4.

People around the world wonder why it’s such a low-ranking in a democratic country such as the Philippines. Despite the bright hope and trust placed in the Aquino administration as one dedicated to bring about a reasonably clean and corrupt-free rule, there is still a fierce struggle going on behind the scenes. The shocking reality is that this so-called democratic nation of vast mineral resources, with a population of 93 million intelligent, generally well-educated, religious, friendly, hard working, lovely, but very poor people; mired poverty is ruled by a corrupt power-grabbing elite of about 200 families.

This small elite of wealthy people and corporations, masquerades as a paragon of church-going virtue. The corrupt elite is a deadly devouring rapacious T-Rex dinosaur, at times dressed-up as a cuddly stuffed toy that has misled and bamboozled the electorate with empty promises and cheated in elections to remain in power but this year that did not work as before.

The most recent election of thousands of local government officials, (many are representatives of the elite at the village level,) has been no better. The democratic effort was marred by cheating, manipulation and election failure in some places. In the recent past, whenever the elite saw that its power and privileges and corrupt practices were being challenged and openly exposed in the media by outspoken critics, it stepped out of it its cuddly toy costume and began to devour it critics and anyone who stood in its way.

This elite of about 200 families have ruled 93 million people through a democratic facade for the past decades because they have cleverly bound the corrupt elements in the military and police to them by turning a blind eye to their corrupt practices. In return, the elite can call on the military to defend them against popular uprisings and mass protests. Hence the death squads and assassination of over a thousand social critics, community organizers, opponents and even priests, pastors, and journalists that have been stabbed, tortured and shot to death in the past ten years.

The idealistic and upright members of the military rose up in protest and staged several failed attempted coups to end the corrupt practices of the last administration. They have been granted an amnesty by President Aquino. This is a time of opportunity for the virtuous to exert their moral values, commitment to fairness and honesty, to take a stand for justice, truth and good clean governance. It’s a time to unite efforts, hopes, resources and talent to work for the more just and equal society. 

Rev. Shay Cullen is a founder of - a nonprofit dedicated to ending the exploitation of children.



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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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