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Pinoy Solutions to Corruption
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Photo: Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn Baliton and DILG Assistant Secretary Rolando Acosta leading the discussion of the 1st IDR technical working group meeting involving representatives from both agencies.

Department of Interior and Local Government and Ombudsman Forging Ahead to Fight Corruption in Local Governments

An interagency technical working group that would promote the review of local government systems and procedures for the sufficiency of corruption safeguards, identify vulnerabilities, and formulate comprehensive corruption prevention and integrity development action plans, was officially formed and held its first meeting on 6 July 2011. With support from USAID’s Integrity Project, the Integrity Development Review (IDR) was adopted for the Local Government Units and the two agencies are strengthening partnership in cleansing local government. In the pilot implementation of the IDR, local chief executives have already implemented reforms that enhanced their agency’s transparency and accountability, such as posting of steps for transactions with the public at visible places and ensuring better targeting of beneficiaries for medical goods. One Interior and Local Government official envisions the “IDR as a way of life in Local Government Units.”

Assessing Local Government Units’ Sufficiency of Corruption Safeguards and Corruption Vulnerabilities

Corruption kills. When people are deprived of rightful social services because funds for it are misappropriated, worse lost to corruption, the cost is immeasurable. Corruption is one of the challenges faced by local governments. It affects the quality of public services, investment climate, and economic development.  Since local governments, by nature, closely deal with people, effects of corruption are quickly felt. By the same token, efforts to curb corruption in the local level are readily felt by the constituents as instituted.

To promote integrity development initiatives at the local level and support the efforts of LGUs in combating corruption, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) collaborated in the development of the Integrity Development Review (IDR) for Local Government Units (LGUs) and its pilot implementation in 14 LGUs. With technical assistance from the Integrity Project of the US Agency for International Development (iPro-USAID) and the Center for Regional and Local Governance (CLRG) of the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG), contracted through the University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc. (UPPAF), for tool development and pilot implementation. 

The IDR is a process of assessing sufficiency of corruption safeguards and corruption vulnerabilities within an agency’s systems and procedures using the following tools: Corruption Resistance Review (CRR) and Corruption Vulnerability Assessment (CVA). Basing from the 7-year success of implementing the IDR in national government agencies, the UP NCPAG recalibrated the IDR for LGUs’ application in September-December 2011. In recalibrating the tools for LGUs’ use, the proponents considered the uniqueness of the LGUs and their following functions: (1) Revenue Generation; (2) Procurement Management; (3) Utilization of Resources; (4) Human Resource Management; (5) Program-based Service Delivery; (6) Civil Procedures/Transaction-based Service Delivery; (7) Regulatory and Policy-making.

The CRR of the IDR measures the sufficiency of corruption safeguards the agency has installed in its systems and procedures through a survey of employees and stakeholders. Process owners employed by the LGUs are gathered to answer survey questions on actionable indicators for corruption safeguards within the seven functions. On the other hand, the CVA involves the conduct of a thorough and systemic review of the principal and support operations of a government agency through process mapping and risk analysis.

The IDR may be done as a self-assessment or an external assessment or a combination of both. For the pilot implementation of the IDR for LGUs, assessors from the OMB and DILG along with representatives from UP NCPAG served as external assessors. The external assessors as well as internal assessors from the pilot LGUs were trained on the use of the tool in January 2011. There were a total of 40 internal assessors and 25 external assessors - 10 from the UP NCPAG, 9 from the OMB, and 6 from the DILG.

Selecting the pilot LGUs was not an easy process. The selected LGUs represented the ‘typical’ LGUs (not outliers as in mega cities), known for some good practices, and representative of the 3 main islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Most importantly, the selected LGUs were willing to be subjected to an integrity review and to implement an action plan addressing identified gaps.

The following are the pilot LGUs: (LUZON) Municipality of Kapangan and Barangay Labueg of Benguet; Province of Laguna; Barangay Pansol of Quezon City; Municipality of Goa and Barangay San Isidro Poblacion of Camarines Sur; Tabaco City and Barangay Tagas of Albay; (VISAYAS) Municipality of Maydolong and Barangay Campakirit of Eastern Samar; (MINDANAO) Municipality of Mahayag and Barangay San Isidro of Zamboanga del Sur; Municipality of Opol and Barangay Igpit of Misamis Oriental.

The project completed the IDR assessments of the 14 pilot LGUs in February-July 2011. There were two assessment trips made for each of the LGU. One was for the conduct of the CRR and the other for the 2nd part of the IDR, conduct of the CVA. The former involved a survey of employees and stakeholders, while the latter produced process maps and risk assessments of the most vulnerable areas.

More LGUs scored lowest in Civil Procedures/Transaction-based Service Delivery, Procurement Management, Utilization of Resources, and Human Resource Management. With guidance from assessors, LGUs mapped out selected processes within lowest-scoring functions such as application of business permits, bidding process for municipalities, disbursement of funds for cash advances, and investigation and adjudication of administrative complaints.

After the first set of assessment trips, small gains from the IDR were already achieved. Local chief executives have started implementing reform measures. For example, after about a month from the first assessment trip to an LGU, assessors found processes involving transactions with the public documented and posted in visible places, which were not done previously. LGUs showed more resolve in pursuing governance reforms in the planning of integrity development initiatives. Following a debriefing and a seminar on high-risk processes in August 2011, the assessors were ready for the third visit to the LGUs to help LGUs in the formulation of action plans.

An LGU for example planned and initiated reforms clarifying process and establishing criteria for selecting beneficiaries for program-based services. Prior to the IDR, the LGU’s process of targeting beneficiaries left much room for discretion. Enhancements in this area would help not just ensure that needs of the poorest members of the community are met, but also ultimately improve public services.

The DILG and OMB are now poised to forge ahead with institutionalizing the IDR efforts through mainstream governance tools/programs such as the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) and Local Government Performance Management System (LGPMS) of the DILG. The SGH recognizes performing LGUs based on pre-determined performance indicators, making them eligible for accessing the Performance Challenge Fund. The LGPMS is a self-assessment and development tool that helps LGUs determine their progress in various sectors.

Both agencies are strengthening their partnership to gear up in cleansing local governments. They are collaborating in tool integration, capacity building, and promotion of governance reforms in LGUs. With the marrying of the IDR, LGPMS, and SGH, results of the LGPMS and SGH would be enhanced to also reflect the progress of LGUs in installing corruption prevention safeguards. Further, improvements in transparency and accountability in the LGUs’ systems and procedures are promoted. At the same time, the joint program allows for wider application of the IDR. More importantly, joint implementation follows a more determined action from LGUs with the IDR hopefully becoming ‘a way of life’ in LGUs.   
September 22, 2011

The Philippines Commission on Audit (COA) – Office of the Ombudsman (OMB)

Joint Investigation Team (JIT)



As part of its commitment to support the anti-corruption initiatives of the Philippines, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Management Systems International’s Philippines Integrity Project (iPro), facilitated closer and sustained cooperation between the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) and the Commission on Audit (COA) in order to speed up the prosecution of high profile corruption cases (involving over Php 50m or US$ 1m).  Responding to the urgent need to address the respective concerns between the two agencies for a harmonious working relationship, the timing could not have been better for iPro’s support in the creation of the OMB-COA Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The JIT was one of the products of a series of Focus Group Discussions conducted separately in March and April of 2010 by the two agencies to identify and propose solutions to the issues and concerns adversely affecting the investigation and prosecution by the Ombudsman of cases arising from COA’s audit reports.  The output of these FGDs, which was finalized in a joint plenary, was used as basis for the plan of action which was put together in a joint workshop on “Strengthening Institutional Commitments between the COA and the OMB: Towards Winning Corruption Cases.”  The plan of action identified concrete activities which included, among others, drawing up of guidelines in conducting joint investigation for high-profile cases.  A Memorandum of Understanding between and by the representatives of the COA and OMB and a Memorandum of Agreement between the heads of the agencies were likewise formulated in the workshop.  The MOA which was consequently signed on June 15, 2010, provided for the close coordination and cooperation between the auditors and investigators in the fight against corruption.  To make the MOA operational, another joint workshop was held to finalize and eventually sign the Memorandum Circulars on the Conduct of Joint Investigations and Development of Case Records Management Systems.  These circulars were aimed at setting the guidelines that will govern the conduct of the joint investigation of audit-related complaints and reports and ensure the effective management of fraud audit case records and expeditious access to these records.

Contained in the circular on joint investigation is the agreement to cover cases amounting to at least Php50 Million involving high ranking officials like mayors, corporate managers, directors and the like. An unwritten criterion to narrow the choice is the magnitude of impact of the cases on the public.  The joint investigation team is composed of select investigators and forensic auditors. 

For the last ten months, the team has been meeting regularly on a monthly basis.  Initial joint meetings conducted were meant to identify priority cases and decide on which one needed their immediate consideration.  Separate meetings were also held to formulate the two agencies’ respective internal rules and regulations that were necessary in the handling and management of JIT cases.  Sub-teams were created by the two offices to handle specific cases.  At August 2011, one priority case involving officials and employees of one of the country’s government corporations was the subject of a series of case conferences between the auditors and prosecutors over several months.  A complaint has been prepared by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the OMB but FIO is still awaiting additional COA supporting documents before it is finally filed.  The complaint incorporates the process by which it was prepared, that it was a product of the investigation done by the OMB-COA JIT.

COA has just started an audit survey on another high profile case.  If the audit team finds enough bases to warrant an investigation after an analysis of the gathered documents, the JIT will set to work and conduct an entrance conference and then proceed to do simultaneous investigation on the case. 

There are still a lot of big ticket cases that are lined up for investigation.  It is hoped that with the JIT members working hand in hand, the period of investigation and filing of cases in court will be significantly shortened.  And given the legal guidance of the investigators, the case building of the forensic auditors is likely to produce air-tight cases that will stand the rigors of trials.

This continuing effort of the OMB-COA Joint Investigation Team is expected not only to reduce opportunities and inclination of corrupt officials, but also to send a message to the public how serious these agencies are in ridding their ranks of crooked officials and employees and demonstrate their genuine desire to bring these corrupt public servants to court and make them accountable for the crimes that they have committed against the government and the Filipino people.

September 14, 2011

HOW TO SUPPORT CORRUPTION >>> Never speak of it
Don't listen to anything about it Ignore it

Ombudsman, COA tie up vs grafters

Two heads are better than one.

The Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit (COA) have formed a joint team whose sole task is to expedite the resolution of high-profile cases involving government officials.

The joint investigating team (JIT) will probe cases involving at least P50 million in government funds and public officials with a salary grade of 27 and above.

Chief Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and COA chairman Reynaldo Villar signed on Tuesday a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to formalize their joint cooperation during a convention held at the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo City.

The joint team will be headed by Jesus Mikhael, deputy special prosecutor of the anti-graft office; and Dir. Leonor Boado, COA's Fraud Audit Investigation Officer.

The JIT will be tasked to investigate at least four “controversial” cases in a year.

Assistant Ombudsman for the Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago said an anomalous transaction in Cebu is among the priorities of the JIT.

She, however, declined to identify the case so as not to jeopardize the proceedings.

“The Office of the Ombudsman and COA will coordinate with each other for the quick resolution of high-profile cases,” Santiago told Cebu Daily News.

She, however, clarified that JIT could conduct an investigation of other cases which do not involve P50 million and above.

However, these cases must be recommended by Gutierrez.

Santiago is expected to get a copy of the MOA today.

JIT will conduct a fact-finding investigation on the cases submitted to them involving respondents with a salary grade of 27 and above.

These include governors; vicegovernors; members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan; provincial treasurers; assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; city mayor; vice mayor, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher; Philippine Army and Air Force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank; City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and Special Prosecutor; and presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations.

If there is probable cause, JIT can elevate the cases for preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication.

Cases that undergo preliminary investigation may be filed with the Sandiganbayan if the joint team will find sufficient evidence against the officials involved.

Lawyer Democrito Barcenas, lead convenor of the Noy-Mar volunteers in Cebu, welcomed the creation of the joint team.

“I think that is a good arrangment. The Ombudsman should seek the assistance of COA which is well-versed in the audit of government funds,” said Barcenas.

He, however, wants Gutierrez to be removed from office to ensure that results of the investigation would be credible.

“It's Gutierrez who is calling the shots. Still, I don't trust the Ombudsman because she has no independence of mind,” said Barcenas, a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter.

If Gutierrez continues to stay in office, Barcenas said cases involving family and allies of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would “never prosper.”

While he trusts the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas, Barcenas said cases from the region are still being sent to Manila.

Last year, Gutierrez issued a memorandum directing the local offices of the Ombudsman to transfer cases involving governors and vice governors to Manila "to further expedite and accelerate the conduct of preliminary investigation and/or administrative adjudication."

The directive was the reason complaints about alleged overpricing of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City and the purchase of the Balili beach property in Naga City were referred to the Ombudsman Manila. Both cases remain unresolved.

“Cases from Cebu should be investigated here,” Barcenas said.

With the creation of JIT, however, Barcenas said the anti-graft office and COA could focus on cases that are of public interest.

Environmentalist lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos said the joint team of the Ombudsman and COA should be able to acquire public trust.

“Any undertaking that will eradicate graft and connuption is always welcome. But they (JIT) need to have the credibility. There are a lot to do to restore credibility to the Ombudsman. This (creation of JIT) is one,” said Ramos in a phone interview.

Cebu City councilor Edgardo Labella, former director of the Ombudsman Visayas, said the creation of the JIT would help hasten the resolution of cases.

“This is a welcome development,” he said.

Based on his experience, Labella said it would take COA around five to six months to release results of audit reports on cases filed with the Ombudsman.

He said he used to ask anti-graft investigators to follow up with COA so audit reports would be released.

“I hope this (JIT) would be the answer of many complaints that request for audit examination and are not resolved speedily,” Labella said.


COA to liaise with Ombudsman to make big cases airtight

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

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

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

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








Participants in the Training on Audit and Audit Procedures for the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) – Visayas are shown listening intently to the lecture of Dir. Nelia Villeza, Assistant Director of the  Commission on Audit (COA) – Fraud Audit and Investigation Office (FAIO).  This group of investigators and prosecutors is already the fourth batch of OMB personnel to benefit from this training.  To date, a total of 236 OMB personnel, from various offices in the Central Office and OMB Visayas have completed the two-day training. 

Aside from the interest demonstrated by the participants during the conduct of the training, they were very appreciative of the knowledge being imparted to them by the highly qualified resource speakers from the COA.  Feedback from participants showed the necessity for this audit training.  They said that their tasks require them to be equipped with the appropriate audit tools and techniques as well as awareness on relevant jurisprudence and issuances for the evaluation of complaints filed by the COA.  This training has also provided them with the means to familiarize themselves with COA documents and how they should be used.

Associate Graft Investigation Officer Gerhard Basco regarded the training as a blessing as he said he badly needed it to orient him on how to appreciate the documents from COA which were starting to pile up in his desk.  He said he was both happy and excited when he learned that he was one of the participants.  To prove how quick the impact of the lectures were on him, he revealed that at the end of the morning session of the first day, he felt the eagerness to leave the training room and start working on the audit reports, disbursement vouchers and payrolls on his table.

This training on Audit and Audit Procedures is being conducted for OMB investigators and prosecutors in support of the joint plan of action (JPA) formulated by the OMB and COA during the joint workshop in May of this year organized and supported by the USAID/MSI Integrity Project (iPro).  The resource persons for this training are senior officials of the COA-FAIO. 

 iPro is scheduled to hold more audit trainings and a complementary training for the COA auditors - Training on Corruption Investigation in the coming months.  This training will be conducted, this time, by the experts from the Office of the Ombudsman.



Remarks of Jim Wesberry, Chief of Party

USAID/MSI Integrity Project


at the

Joint Workshop on Strengthening Institutional Commitments Between

Commission on Audit and Office of the Ombudsman: Towards Winning Corruption Cases

19 May 2010

Canyon Cove, Nasugbu, Batangas


At this place on Earth, at this point in time, my job and your job is to be an accountability agent.

Accountability is greatly resisted, greatly misunderstood, greatly misinterpreted, greatly avoided.

Accountability agents are the people who overcome its resistance, clarify its meaning, interpret its application and insist upon compliance with the duty to be accountable…the duty to respond to a higher authority for acts and actions carried out and resources used.

The thing that binds together all of us here in this workshop is the fact that we are all accountability agents.

Some of us have differing functions but all of us seek to promote the resonance of the trumpet of accountability thorough this wonderful country.

I am an accountability salesman.  My job is to sell accountability wherever I go.  One of the great privileges of my life is to be able to be here in this great country with you for a short time while heading the USAID/MSI Integrity Project (iPro).

You, each of you, is an accountability mobilizer, at times an accountability salesman, at times an accountability promoter, at times an accountability enforcer…always an accountability agent.

That is why we in this room as accountability agents must forge a common union and bond in the quest for accountability.  That is why the two great accountability institutions of this great Multi-Island Republic must work closely together as one single great accountability synergizer motivating, mobilizing and monitoring public sector officials and employees to strive, to seek, to accept their duty to be accountable to their superiors, their government and their true employers, the people of the Philippines.

What is accountability?  It is a term that has been confused, abused, and over-used in this new Century. As accountability agents we must understand accountability, we must preach accountability and we must practice accountability. 

There are hundreds of definitions of accountability.  The best definition I have ever heard of the term was written by a legendary Chief of Police of the City of Charleston, South Carolina with the unlikely name of Reuben M. Greenberg. Originally from Texas, Greenberg is Black, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant father and an African-American mother. He converted to Judaism at age 26.  Beginning in 1982, hired after the previous Police Chief coimmitted suicide, Greenberg served 23 years and became a national legend in law enforcement in the city where the American Civil War began, where the old slave market is still preserved  as a terrible reminder of the past and where racial segregation was practiced until the 1960’s. Here’s his definition of “accountability.”



          "Accountability isn't hard to define.  It's the concept that every individual is responsible for his or her actions, is liable for their consequences, and must answer to someone if these actions harm others...Of the many shining values that hold together the fabric of civilization - honesty, kindness, truthfulness, generosity, decency - I truly think that accountability may be the greatest of them all.  Without it there can be no respect, no trust, no law --- ultimately, no society.



          "My job as a police officer is to impose accountability on people who refuse, or have never learned to impose it on themselves...We try to enforce external controls by enforcing the law...But as every cop knows, external controls on people's behavior are less effective than internal controls, such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear of punishment, and reluctance to face public condemnation or ostracism.


"The sense of guilt or remorse once associated with the commission of a felony has vanished...If we exempt...(the criminal)..., even partly, from accountability, we become a society of endless excuses, where no one is prepared to accept responsibility for anything."


During Greenberg's years as Police Chief Charleston's crime rate dropped significantly.  Armed robberies were down more than 60 percent.  Homicides were cut in half and burglaries reached a 30 year low. Charleston's population increased 64% during the time Greenberg was chief, while crime decreased 11 percent.


While, as Greenberg points out, police officers must impose accountability...often on those unwilling to accept it, we accountability professionals do not have such authority.  We are a part of the control structure of the government.  We must today be accountability advocates, not accountability dictators, agitators or aggravators. 


We must be a part of a movement to renew our nation’s commitment to accountability.  We must work together as never before as accountability agents.


It is my custom to close any presentation with this code of ethics that is over three thousand years old:


A 3,000 year old code of ethics



Walk with integrity

Do what is right

       Speak the truth from your heart

Do not slander others

Do your neighbor no wrong

Do not spread rumors

Keep your word...

even when it hurts

Lend money without usury

Do not accept a bribe

Despise a vile man

Honor those who revere God

                           -- adapted from Psalm 15


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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!
Management Association of the Philippines 
MAP is a management organization committed to promoting management excellence. The members of the MAP represent a cross-section of CEOs, COOs and other top executives from the top local and multinational companies operating in the country, including some top officials of government and the academe.

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