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

NEWS - JAN. 16 -22

Pinoy Solutions to Corruption
Media reports & editorials about " PINOY SOLUTIONS"
PINOY SOLUTIONS TO CORRUPTION *** Speech by Ex-Governor Grace Padaca at Silliman University
PINOY SOLUTIONS TO CORRUPTION *** Speech by Senator TG GUINGONA at Silliman University
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RICE PROBE WELCOMED: —Malacañang said it welcomed initiatives of the Senate blue ribbon committee to look into the questionable transactions worth billions of pesos of the National Food Authority (NFA) during the Arroyo administration. 'Perhaps that will be a good thing. At least, the information gathered might help us in our own investigation,' Communications and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said in a news briefing on Friday. Sen. Franklin Drilon on Thursday said President Aquino's exposé on the alleged anomalous transactions of the NFA provides a 'valid basis' for the blue ribbon committee to look into the matter.

343 COMPANIES PLEDGE INTEGRITY: Over 300 firms have signed a pledge against bribery and other unethical practices under a private sector campaign seen complementing the government's anti-corruption efforts. The list of the 343 "Integrity Pledge" signatories, however, includes only one of the country's top 10 businesses and none of the top 10 construction companies...Under the pledge, firms agree to ban bribery, maintain a code of conduct for employees, conduct ethics training programs and prepare accurate financial statements. Signatories also promise to shun business with unscrupulous firms and also forge integrity pacts with state agencies for procurement contracts.

TIGHTENING CORRUPTION RULES MAY CATCH FIRMS IN ASIA: Multinational firms trying to get a bigger piece of the Asia growth story face a rising risk of becoming embroiled in corruption scandals unless they enforce stricter compliance norms and new regulations. The region may have moved center stage in many companies' growth strategies as developed economies struggle but firms are also scrutinizing projects even more and stepping up due diligence before jumping into new joint ventures and M&A. The US has ramped up enforcement of the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), while the UK's new Bribery Act comes on stream in April. "There is an awful lot happening in the region when it comes to anti-corruption and multinational companies ... are having to do a big review of their compliance procedures" said Kelly Austin, a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn in Hong Kong.

DILG TO LOCAL EXECS: FULL DISCLOSURE OR SANCTION >>> Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo warned government officials that failure to comply with the full disclosure policy will automatically merit administrative sanctions...

ENERGY DEPT PROBES POWER COOP BRIBERY CASE: The Department of Energy has launched its own investigation into the bribery case involving Iloilo Electric Cooperative III (Ileco III) and the sale of a Panay power plant, the results of which will be given to the Commission on Appointments (CA).

OMBUDSMAN ORDERS DISMISSAL OF THREE: The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of two treasurers and one councilor over cash-related offenses: ... + Bernardita de Jesus, municipal treasurer of Unisan town in Quezon province; + Patricio Rebugio Jr, former municipal councilor of Laoac, Pangasinan, and + Myrna Molar, barangay treasurer of Barangay Barretto, Olongapo City.

DEPARTING EURO-UNION AMBASSADOR: GOVERNANCE A MAJOR PROBLEM >>> Governance has been a major problem of the Philippines and will require years for the country to effect transformation, according to the European Union's outgoing Ambassador Alistair MacDonald...MacDonald urged the government to take every step through legal means to prevent and address the problem of corruption. "I certainly do not imagine for one moment that the new administration has given up in any sense on its intention to prevent corruption to address the climate of impunity and to address the question of extralegal killings"... During the negotiation for the Philippines-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the EU recognized the serious problem of corruption and vowed to help the Philippines on the aspect of good governance and modernization of public administration.

RICE PRICE FUROR MY RESULT IN SHUTTING DOWN FOOD AGENCY: Amid fresh calls in Congress to investigate anomalies in rice importation in the previous administration, the government may shut down the National Food Authority (NFA)

CHOP-CHOP BIDS INFLATED RICE PRICE: The government shot itself in the foot when it imported rice in batches in late 2009, which excited the market and inflated the prices for the staple, the National Food Authority (NFA) said Thursday. Records from the NFA showed that the Philippines bought a total of 2.25 million metric tons of rice from Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan from Nov. 4, 2009 to Dec. 15, 2009. There were four bidding sessions conducted in that period, a method that pushed prices upward and put the government at a disadvantage, NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo said.

OVERSEAS EMPLOYEMNT ADMIN LOOKS AT TRAFFICKING SYNDICATES: The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said that it is prepared to clear its ranks amid the reports that some of its employees are involved in human trafficking syndicates...

GOOD GOVERNANCE INDEX UNVEILED: The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has unveiled the good governance index (GGI) for all provinces and municipalities. The GGI aims to come up with objective, comprehensive and comparable measures of good governance based on outcome indicators in order to guide policy makers and stakeholders in the country in assessing local and national performance...Based on the framework developed by the NSCB, the GGI and its sub-indices measure the following dimensions of good governance - sustainable management of resources through generation of adequate financial resources and responsiveness to alleviation of poverty; rule of law through improvement of internal and external security, law enforcement and administration of justice; and efficiency of the delivery of services on health, education, and power supply. NSCB said however, that the following dimensions of governance were not represented in the computation of the GGI due to unavailability of data or incompleteness of data for all provinces -- elimination of graft and corruption, improvement of transparency and accountability, ICT readiness and improvement of technology, and continuous building of LGU capacities. The GGI would also promote a more evidence-based policy making and decision making towards good governance.

P-NOY SLOGAN WINS AWARD: President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III bested other heads of state for his communications platform of promoting transparency and accountability. He received on Thursday night in Hong Kong the PublicAffairsAsia's Gold Standard Award for Political Communications...PublicAffairsAsia is a network of senior government relations, public affairs and corporate communications professionals operating across the Asia Pacific region. The group gave credence to Aquino's "Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap" line that he has been trumpeting since the elections...Last year, the award went to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono due to his exemplary work in addressing corruption in Indonesia through his Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

REFORMED "MOST CORRUPT" AGENCY SOON TO SWIM IN MONEY: A government agency that has been tagged as "most corrupt" will soon be swimming with so much cash that it is holding workshops on how to spend it wisely lest people suspect some of the money will end up in someone's pocket. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has started a series of workshops on how best to spend the P100,826,083,000 allotted to it under the General Appropriations Act of 2011. The DPWH said in a statement that it had gotten the assurance of the Department of Budget and Management that it had the funds for the immediate completion of the government's vital infrastructure projects..."This series of workshops aims to change the culture, change the values and change the image of the department," Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said...For decades, the DPWH budget has been a source of corruption owing to misuse of the "pork barrel" system by lawmakers, who have a say on which infrastructure projects should be prioritized and where. In launching his "Transformation Program" earlier this month, Singson said he wanted to minimize corruption in the DPWH "so that moving forward up to the year 2012, the Department would be on the straight path and regain the trust of the people."

RICE IMPORT SCANDAL PROBE URGED: The profligate importation of rice last year was proof of the Arroyo administration's "brazenness" that requires a full-blown Senate investigation, officials said Thursday. "I think this is a sign of what we call the culture of impunity, the brazenness of the past administration," Transparency International-Philippines (TIP) president Georgina Encanto told reporters in the Senate.

COMELEC 5 SUSPENSION OK'ED: Court of Appeals upholds Ombudsman suspension of five Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials involved in the purchase of grossly overpriced ballot secrecy folders worth P690 million.

NEW COMELEC CHIEF WANT TO PROBE "HELLO GARCI": Newly installed Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes on Thursday said he wants to investigate the "Hello, Garci" wiretapping scandal linking then Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano Jr. to a plot to rig the May 2004 presidential election. Brillantes said that while the investigation on the Garci scam will not be a priority, the commission still needs to help bring closure to the issue.

LGU'S MUST PUBLICLY POST 12 ITEMS: The government's transparency and accountability campaign was further strengthened with the compulsory disclosure and posting of 12 documents and transactions entered into by local government units (LGUs). These include the 20 percent component of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share utilization; annual budget report; quarterly statement of cash flows; statement of receipts and expenditures; Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) trust fund utilization; quarterly report of the special education fund (SEF) utilization; Annual GAD (gender and development) accomplishment report; statement of debt service; annual procurement plan or procurement list; items to bid; bid results on civil work, goods and services; and the abstract of bids as calculated.

CSC CHAIR DUQUE SURPRISES LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE, WARNS AGAINST "FIXERS": Civil Service Commission Chairman Francisco Duque made a surprise visit at the Land Transportation Office in Quezon City on Tuesday following complaints of alleged anomalies. At 11 a.m., Duque went inside different offices and divisions to check out the early closure of transaction windows during break time. Front-line units, such as the licensing division, registration division, and motor vehicle inspection, must impose a "no-lunch break policy," he said. He directed division heads to clear their areas of fixers who operated in connivance with some LTO employees. Duque also gave an order to reduce red tape on the processing and issuance of documents, and the continued implementation of old regulations that have turned out to be useless. He warned employees against conspiring with fixers.

IMMIGRATION PERSONNEL ORDERED NOT TO FACILITATE, ESCORT DEPARTEES: Bureau of Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma ordered over the weekend all immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to refrain from engaging in facilitation and escorting of departing passengers. Ledesma warned in a memorandum that any immigration personnel found to have violated the new directive will be subjected to administrative proceedings.

DOJ PROBE: VIDEO SAID TO PROVE CONSPIRACY: The current management of information technology firm Stradcom Corp. presented before the Department of Justice (DOJ) two pieces of evidence of an alleged conspiracy between a faction in the firm and Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres in last month's failed takeover of the Stradcom building in the LTO compound. Stradcom president and chief executive officer Cezar Quiambao told a DOJ fact-finding panel during the probe body's first hearing that Torres reportedly conspired with the group of Bonifacio Sumbilla and Aderito Yujuico in trying to control the Stradcom building on Dec. 9, 2010. Quiambao submitted to the panel, led by Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, surveillance camera footage showing Torres entering the Stradcom building with Sumbilla and Yujuico and talking with them for several minutes while they were at the second floor. He said this disproves Torres' earlier claim that she did not know Sumbilla and that she was not aware that he was with her when she entered the Stradcom building.

3 YEAR TERM LIMIT FOR CUSTOMS COLLECTORS: Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez wants to impose a three-year term limit on district collectors and prevent them from fraternalizing with those who they are supposed to regulate. Alvarez on Tuesday said that if an official stays too long in his post, there is a possibility that he will establish close ties with his public and that ould affect his decision-making.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER TO PUSH FOI LAW: Expect the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill to take centerstage along with the controversial reproductive health bill and a revived move to change the Constitution in the Senate in the next few months. Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said that he will personally push for the passage of the FOI bill which he described as one of the solutions against the rampant graft and corruption in the government. "I think if the FOI will be passed into law, 50 percent of our fight against graft and corruption will be resolved," Cayetano said in a dzRH radio interview.

OMBUDSMAN GOES NORTH: The Office of the Ombudsman will be setting up its second regional office in this mountain resort city to make transactions with the said office much easier and cost-efficient for people from different parts of Northern Luzon. Lawyer Mark Jalandoni, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, said the upcoming operation of its satellite office will cater to the needs of many public officials and employees who have the difficulty of going to as far as Metro Manila to secure the appropriate clearances, file the necessary documents pertaining to transactions with the Ombudsman among others.

FORMER ILOILO GOPVERNOR IN HOT WATER: The administration of former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. is in hot water for a P5.3-million disallowance in the procurement of medicines and medical supplies. Current Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. disclosed that the Commission on Audit (COA)-6 has released its findings on 14 disallowed transactions during the Tupas administration, amounting to P5,342,100.

OMBUDSMAN UNDER FIRE FOR "SHIELDING" PICHAY: Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez has come under fire anew for allegedly shielding an Arroyo ally, Prospero Pichay, from corruption charges. Former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros said in a press statement that Gutierrez denied last January 5 a petition for preventive suspension filed against Local and Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) officials, including Pichay, who is currently the chairman of the LWUA Board of Trustees. The case was filed by LWUA employees who accused Pichay and other LWUA officials of plunder.

SENATE PRESIDENT: NEED TO REMOVE ALL DOUBTS >>> "There is more to this deal than meets the eye and for the sake of President Aquino's call for transparency and the elimination of graft and corruption in government transactions, the people have the right to know if, indeed, due diligence was conducted by the DoTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) headed by Aquino appointee, Jose 'Ping' de Jesus, prior to the project's awarding to Sumitomo of Japan and the Thales Group of France." "There is a need to remove all doubts and clear the air of suspicion about this deal because not only billions in taxpayers' money are involved here but also innocent lives"... The Senate leader was referring to the Sumitomo/Thales joint venture contract with the DoTC worth nine billion yen or approximately P4 billion for the nationwide modernization of the countrys communications, navigation surveillance and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) systems and facilities.

VIZCONDE ORDERED TO PROVE CLAIMS: The Supreme Court has ordered Lauro Vizconde and his lawyers to prove their allegations that a senior magistrate had masterminded the acquittal of Hubert Webb and 6 others for the massacre of his family in 1991. It also ordered former Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for supposedly hurling invectives against the magistrates who voted in favor of the acquittal.

ANGARAS IN HOT WATER OVER AURORA FREEPORT: International architect Jun Palafox, running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, priests, and local leaders of Aurora have met with Justice Sec. Leila de Lima to submit their affidavits and other documents to prove that that there's basis to file criminal charges against Senator Eduardo Angara, Rep. Sonny Angara, Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, and Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport (APECO) officials. They claimed that there is a conflict of interest since the congressman and the governor are members of the APECO Board of Directors, while the senator was among those who penned the APECO law. In their affidavits and other documents, the group also said it is not environmentally safe to build the APECO in a chosen location. They added that the law creating the APECO was passed without the approval and consultation with the people of Casiguran, Aurora, which is allegedly a violation of the Local Government Code and the APECO Law itself. They also accused the Angaras of violating of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and Extension and Reform (CARPER) law, the Fisheries Code, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, the Government Auditing Code, and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Casiguran parish priest Fr. Jose Francisco Talaban said with many residents relying on farming and fishing, APECO threatens the province's food security. He said Angara-Castillo endorsed the project despite strong opposition from thousands of farming, fishing and tribal community members who will be displaced as vast tracks of irrigated agricultural, forest and ancestral lands have been appropriated for the project.

DOJ TO PROBE APECO: Residents and indigenous peoples in Aurora province asked the Department of Justice to look into the alleged irregularities surrounding the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO), where members of the Angara family sit as board members. The locals of Casiguran town, accompanied by prominent Architect Felino Palafox Jr., accused the Angaras of wasting public funds in the creation of the 12,000 hectare economic zone in their home province. Sen. Edgardo Angara and his son, Aurora Rep. Jun Edgardo "Sonny" Angara co-sponsored Republic Act No. 10083, the law that created APECO. The younger Angara and Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, the senator's sister, sit on the economic zone's Board. Palafox, who was initially tapped to create the master plan for APECO, alleged that the Angaras violated Presidential Decree 1445 in failing to submit APECO funds to scrutiny by the Commission on Audit. Palafox added that the Angaras pushed through with constructing the APECO infrastructure even without passing the necessary studies. "They had no environmental impact study, land conversion study, feasibility study, seaport study, and airport study," he said at a news briefing. He likewise said that Gov. Angara endorsed RA No. 10083 despite opposition from thousands of residents who risk losing their source of livelihood.

ANOTHER MEGA-SCANDAL IN THE MAKING? A SCAM believed to be more disastrous than the scrapped National Broadband Network (NBN) deal three years ago is expected to rock the seven-month old Aquino administration. Thus warned concerned employees and experts from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), in relation to the country's air traffic control modernization project left behind by the Macapagal Arroyo administration at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). "We are calling on Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus, to seriously consider their decision to proceed with the communication, navigation surveillance and air traffic management, CNS/ATM project for our international airport. Unless nipped in the bud, this P13.5 billion 'behemoth' has the makings of another NBN-ZTE scandal," sources warned.

LAWYER OPPOSES CHANGES TO PROBE PANEL: THE lawyer of a government hospital worker facing an administrative probe over 28 missing Philhealth checks questioned Cebu City Hall's appointment of new members of the committee tasked to hear the case. Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu opposed the designation of four new members of the special administrative investigation committee, saying this would violate her client's rights.

EX-PUBLIC OFFICIALS "NOT EXEMPTED" FROM INVESTIGATION: THE allegations against the former mayor of Ma-dridejos will be docketed as a fact-finding inquiry. Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago said the lapse of several years after the allegations were first made and the loss of Lety Mancio in last May's elections did not mean the anti-graft office should let the matter go. "We should still take a look, if only as not to leave the issue hanging," she said, adding that Mancio should also be given the chance to clear her name.

OMBUDSMAN INDICTS DEPUTY SHERIFF FOR NEGLECT OF DUTY: AN official of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) 7 faces an administrative complaint for failing to carry out a writ of execution against a bus company in 2005. The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas indicted Matthias Navarro, NLRC 7 deputy sheriff, for neglect of duty for not pushing through with the sale of a levied bus, despite the fact that no temporary or permanent restraining order was issued by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

EX-POSTMASTER CHARGED WITH MALVERSATION: A Postmaster formerly assigned at the Mactan Airport Post Office faces a court trial for incurring deficits in the general fund and money order fund collection worth P92,793.44. The Ombudsman-Visayas said it found sufficient basis to hold Elvis Vidad liable on charges of malversation of public funds based on a report from the Commission on Audit (COA).

HEIRS PRESS FOR RANCH RETURN BY PCGG: The YKR Corp. and six heirs of the late Luis A. Yulo have asked the Sandiganbayan's fifth division to compel the government to return all assets and records of the Yulo King Ranch which has been under government sequestration for 24 years. In a pleading filed last January 6, Jose P. O. Aliling IV, counsel for YKR and the Yulo heirs, stressed that the Supreme Court has already ordered the Presidential Commission on Good Government and the Bureau of Animal Industry to restore "assets, properties, records and documents" to YKR Corp in March 2010. Aliling said the order noted the failure of the PCGG and the BAI to fulfill their duty of preserving the value of the sequestered assets during more than two decades of government control.

OMBUDSMAN SEEKS BETTER JUDICIAL NOMINEES: Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez appealed to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and President Arroyo to recommend and appoint better persons - in integrity, competence and character - to prevent the appointment in the Court of Appeals (CA) of people like the "Dirty Dozen" appellate justices who are known for selling TROs (temporary restraining orders) and for other corrupt practices. Gutierrez has told The Times that she has a list of the corrupt magistrates from the appellate court similar to the names which were given as information to the justices of the Supreme Court. According to an unimpeachable Times source, some Supreme Court justices are also receiving complaints about the very CA justices who are on the Ombudsman's watch list.

QUEDANCOR NOT OUT OF "SWINE" MESS: QUEDAN and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Quedancor), whose multibillion peso swine program was hounded by reports of graft, is again facing another mess for failing to run after delinquent borrowers. This failure, according to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA), has caused recovery of huge loans to diminish. The Audit commission said that past dues under the Quedancor Swine Program increased by 53.55 percent from 2008 to 2009. From roughly P846.5 million, the loans ballooned to P1.3 billion in 2009. Previously, the commission's 2005 report found that the swine program had P755.6 million in outstanding balances and P663.7 million in receivables.

2012 BUDGET TO PROMOTE TRANSPARENCY, ADDRESS CORRUPTION: The Budget Department is already preparing for the 2012 budget to address corruption and promote transparency. In a statement Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the early "first budget call" to different government agencies is part of efforts to ensure that the bureaucracy is in line with the Aquino government's transparency thrusts. Abad said that government agencies must now submit a budget that enables the people to inspect each and every detail of how they intend to spend their budget. "For this reason, we will gradually move away from the often-shadowy practice of lump sum budgeting," Abad said.

ACCOUNTABILITY SOUGHT FOR OVERSEAS WORKERS' FUNDS: A Filipino migrant rights group demanded on Thursday a thorough accounting of the P1-billion Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) loan assistance fund for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Furthermore, Migrante-Middle East, invoking transparency and public accountability, also demanded OWWA to publish the agency's latest financial statement which contains expenses and income and that a certified copy of it should be posted in all its regional offices and Philippine embassies and consulates for the information of all stakeholders.

SOLON SEEKS PROBE OF HOUSING AGENCY: A lawmaker in the House of Representatives wanted the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC) investigated after reports that the agency has been losing money, incurring almost P10 billion worth of deficit in the last decade. Cagayan Rep. Rufus Rodriguez called on the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation that would look into the financial condition of HGC, a government owned and controlled agency tasked to operate a credit guaranty program promoting home ownership.

EX-CATMON VICE MAYOR REPRIMANDED: Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas found basis to reprimand former Catmon vice mayor Avis Monleon. Based on the complaint lodged by Ruben Ares, Monleon used as her service vehicle a van the Municipal Government had made available for the use of the council and other departments.

MADRIDEJOS EX-MAYOR TO BE PROBED: The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas will look into allegations that former Madridejos mayor Lety Mancio ordered the use of public funds to pay for her husband's bail in a criminal case. Felixberta Pabualan, a municipal treasurer who had supposedly withdrawn a total of P360,000 from the ASPAC Bank, will be included in the fact-finding. The anti-graft office also wants Mancio and Pabualan investigated for the alleged disbursement of P743,127 to buy an ambulance from Transcraft Transport.

ESCALANTE CITY VICE MAYOR CHARGED: The Visayas regional office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges against a vice mayor in Negros Occidental for unlawfully firing eleven city employees. The Ombudsman ordered that 11 counts of violation of Republic Act 6656, or The Security of Tenure Act, be filed before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court against Santiago Barcelona Jr., vice mayor of Escalante City.

DOJ SEYS HEARING ON HOUSING SCANDAL: A Department of Justice investigating panel is set to hold a clarificatory hearing on the syndicated estafa complaint against real estate developer Delfin Lee and 16 others.

COURT ASKED TO LIFT IMPEACHMENT HALT ORDER: Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and other anti-corruption advocates urged the Supreme Court to finally lift the status quo ante order it had earlier issued on the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. In an urgent motion to resolve, the group said the SC's slow handling of the case "gravely undermines the efforts of the new administration to combat graft and corruption in the government."

FIVE GUILTY IN MEGADIKE CASE: Former Public Works Secretary Florante Soriquez and 4 other DPWH engineers were found guilty of graft for alleged criminal negligence in connection with the failure of a section of the P38.29 million Pampanga Megadike on August 3, 1996 that buried 3 towns under water and lahar.

PCGG TO SC: REVERSE GRAFT CASE DISMISSAL >>> The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the dismissal of a graft complaint against a dozen individuals involved in the grant of some P413 million worth of "behest loan" to a private paper manufacturing firm during the Marcos regime. The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed in May last year the graft case filed by the PCGG against former officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Isarog Pulp and Paper Company Inc. (IPPC) for insufficiency of evidence and lack of probable cause.

SUPREME COURT RESPONDS TO LOBBYING ALLEGATION: The Supreme Court (SC) dared Lauro Vizconde yesterday to prove his allegation that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had lobbied with his fellow justices for the acquittal of Hubert Webb and six others previously convicted for the massacre of his family in 1991. "File it. They always say that. They better come up with evidence," SC spokesman Midas Marquez told reporters in a press conference. He was reacting to a reported statement of the camp of Vizconde that they are planning to file an impeachment complaint against Carpio for alleged "betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption" after meeting three members of the judiciary "privy to the alleged efforts" of the justice. Carpio is reportedly a close friend of the Webb family. He even testified for the defense during trial of the case.

SKEPTICIS ABOUT LOGGING BAN: Mountain natives of the Sierra Mountain range are skeptic about President Aquino's pronouncement on the imposition of a ban on logging, claiming that illegal logging continues to threaten the vast mountain range.

MAYOR PROBED FOR "HOT" LOGS: A mayor in Agusan del Sur is under investigation for his alleged role in the shipment of millions of pesos worth of illegally cut logs seized by an anti-illegal logging task force along the Agusan River. Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo said San Luis Mayor Rolando Corvera is being investigated after he was named among the politicians behind the shipment of the seized logs.

LOW ECONOMIC FREEDOM RATING PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION'S FAULT: Malacañang blamed the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the country's low ranking in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation. In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the indicators measured in the study were taken during the second half of 2009 to first half of 2010 right before President Benigno Aquino III took over.

"UNFAIR" TO BLAME PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION FOR LOW ECONOMIC FREEDOM SCORE: The head of a research center of US-based Heritage Foundation came to the Arroyo administration's defense and said it was not to blame for the Philippines' low ranking in the annual report on economic freedom. Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, said the country is facing "institutional problems that go back a long time," and these "need to be addressed over the long term." "It really is unfair to be too hard on the previous administration," he said.

VICTIMS' FAMILIES CHARGE INACTION: The counsel for the families of the Maguindanao massacre victims has accused the Office of the Ombudsman of inaction on reported corruption involving the Ampatuans. Seven relatives of the Maguindanao massacre victims on Friday filed a plunder case against 25 members of the Ampatuan clan. Former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., massacre primary suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr., former ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan, and their wives and siblings were included in the complaint. The victims' relatives who filed the complaint want the government to freeze and retrieve the said assets.


SHACKLED TO THE CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: On any given weekday, Customs officials and employees in the busiest collection district, which includes the Port of Manila, literally harvest money like it were growing on trees - in outlandishly abundant quantities. The figures range from a low of P2 million per day as very conservative estimates by insiders allege, to a staggering P100 million daily if Bureau of Customs Angelito Alvarez's figures are to be taken seriously. These amounts constitute what is known as "coffee money" or "smiling money" for somedefined by Commissioner Alvarez as the sum that is "voluntarily" given to a Customs employee or official "as sign of appreciation for a job well done, for trade 'facilitation' - earmarked by importers to fast track the release of their goods."...Recently, international policy institute Heritage Foundation named the Philippines mostly unfree because of a long-standing culture of corruption.... Some government employees still turn to corruption for fear of losing their jobs, or worse, their lives; private businesses give bribes to fast track transactions because the perception is that there is no other way to do business in the Philippines; officials still invoke the so-called culture of corruption as a convenient excuse for their inability to institute governmental reforms. Meanwhile, the poor entrust their fate to doles when hundreds of billions in taxpayers' money is lost to corruption annually. Despite more than a century of independence and 25 years after the first People Power Revolt, international observers may be right. We were never really free after all.

OOD SECURITY: In studying what should be done with the NFA amid allegations of irregularities in the previous administration, the government should consider whether those subsidies should continue, or if farmers and the poor who benefit from relatively cheaper NFA rice should get food subsidies in other ways. What needs investigation is whether rice importations made in recent years by the NFA were aboveboard. It is easy to check whether the government obtained the best or at least reasonable prices for the imports. Prices for different varieties of rice in the international market are posted online and can be checked. In the past years, there were persistent rumors that certain quarters received a cut in the declared purchase price for every metric ton of rice imported particularly from a certain country. At the height of the last rice crisis about two years ago, industry experts overseas observed that the Philippines was pushing up rice prices with its bids in the world market. Former NFA officials maintain that they have done nothing wrong and have dared critics to substantiate allegations of wrongdoing.-- Editorial in Philippine Star

JOIN CONGRESS, SEE THE WORLD: Filipino workers toil under conditions of "virtual slavery" in Saudi Arabia, according to a congressional delegation that went to the Middle Eastern kingdom ostensibly on a fact-finding mission...The report is interesting but contained nothing that the nation doesn't already know.

SPORTY EXPLANATION: Malacañang's multi-headed media group appears lost on how to react to the public outcry against the high-end Porsche sports car of President Benigno Aquino III. They are taking pains to explain that the car is purchased from the personal funds of the President who sold his X5 BMW SUV to defray the P4.5 million cost of the third-hand Porsche. The President's apologists are saying that the President's Porsche is a private matter and they are surprised that so much public attention is being given to it...The issue is the insensitiveness of the President in buying an expensive sports car at a time when many people could not eat three times a day. The issue is ostentatious display of wealth in a poor country. This is the issue that the President's media experts should be addressing on this matter of the President's Porsche. -- Alvin Capino in Manila Standard

MBC'S INTEGRITY CERTIFICATION SYSTEM: President Noynoy Aquino's vow to cleanse the government of corruption will soon get a major boost...the Makati Business launching the "Integrity Initiative" in cooperation with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines...The MBC plans "to establish guidelines and internal mechanisms to guard against corrupt practices." The result will be an "integrity certification system" that will be used by the government in screening bid participants. In other words, the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping Seal.

PRIVATE SECTOR VS CORRUPTION: As we continue to demand that government cleanse its ranks, it is high time we did the same in the business community. Corruption, after all, is a two-way street, as there can be bribe-takers only when there are bribe-givers. It is in this context that the Makati Business Club, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Asian Institute of Management, and the Coalition Against Corruption have launched a determined and intensive campaign to reduce private sector corruption. We call this our Integrity Initiative, and we invite all business establishments - large, medium-sized or small, Filipino or foreign - to join us. As a first step, we invite the chief executives of participating companies to execute an Integrity Pledge...We are very pleased with the enthusiastic response of the business community, with over 300 firms of all sizes already signed up. We are also encouraged by the initial response of the Department of Finance which has indicated not only a desire to be an active partner in this initiative but also its willingness to give favored treatment in government transactions to companies that execute the Integrity Pact. Join us in our Integrity Initiative today! -- Ramon del Rosario, Jr. in Philippine Inquirer

MOREON PRIVATE SECTOR...the private sector of the economy must consciously acknowledge that the conduct of business directly affects the well-being and growth of the national economy more than any policy directions or regulatory constraints that government may impose. For there can be laws and levies, but private business can be prudishly compliant and submissive on one extreme, "avoid" constraints in various schemas still within the law in a judicious middle ground, or be "creative" and altogether actively corrupt government and themselves in fallacious end-justifying-the-means for profit. Thus can corruption thrive indeterminately. Can we Filipinos live with a widely believed 40% (alleged estimate as at previous administration) of our national budget going to corruption?... The Makati Business Club (MBC), a local private non-stock, non-profit business association focuses on "the role of the private business sector in national development efforts, both in the planning and to foster and promote implementation of policy." Its new executive director, Peter Perfecto, announced in newspapers last week that "anti-corruption efforts -- this time directed toward the private sector -- will be added to the MBC's priorities. We will continue to watch government but also watch the business sector and get them to make integrity commitments, especially with the big public-private partnership projects coming up." Under the "Integrity Initiative,"a joint project of the MBC with the European Chamber of Commerce, local firms will pledge to ban bribes, conduct ethics training, and improve the transparency of financial reporting. -- Amelia H.C. Ylagan in Business World

PERVASIVE, INCONSISTENT: After 6 months of the Aquino III administration, the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, US-based think tank and the Wall Street Journal reported that corruption in the Philippines is pervasive. It also found that the government has worked to reinvigorate its anti-corruption drive but these efforts have been inconsistent. Heritage Foundation is correct to give the Philippines a low 24 grade in its freedom from corruption category. Corruption is pervasive in the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, Philippine National Police, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) which includes LTO, LTFRB, CAAP, MARINA and PPA, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) where the 30 percent SOP still exists and biddings still rigged, DND/AFP with reports of overpriced procurement of equipment, DENR with continuing protection of illegal loggers and illegal miners including payoffs at checkpoints, DA/NFA and the Office of the Ombudsman. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in Philippine Star

CONCENTRATE ON THE EXCESSES: should not be the role of the Truth Commission to bring charges against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her minions. Rather it should concentrate on documenting the excesses of the previous administration and wait for the appropriate institutions to have a change of the guard to finally prosecute those responsible for destroying the values of Philippine society. As a fact-finding entity, it will be difficult for the Supreme Court to find the new Truth Commission unconstitutional. However, as the Truth Commission begins its hearings aptly covered by the media, the Filipino people will be reminded of the long list of allegations of corruption and abuse of authority faced by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her cohorts... the Filipinos will realize how corruption leads to the huge national debt, inadequate infrastructure, high prices of commodities and services, demoralization of career bureaucrats leading to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in government programs and projects, and uneven distribution of wealth. -- Melito Salazar, Jr. in Manila Bulletin



  • Pervasive corruption in government
  • Weak judicial system
  • Unsound economic policies

US THINK TANK: CORRUPTION MAKES PHILIPPINE ECONOMY "UNFREE": [SEE ABOVE CHART] Pervasive corruption in the government, the weak judicial system, and unsound economic policies make the Philippines one of the "mostly unfree" economies in the world, a think tank in the United States said. "A culture of corruption is long-standing. The government has worked to reinvigorate its anti-corruption drive, but these efforts have been inconsistent," said the policy institute "The Heritage Foundation." Heritage noted that reforms have not improved the public's perception of the government because these overshadowed by high-profile cases frequently reported in the Philippine media.


GARCIA DIDN'T ADMIT HE WAS CONTROLLER: After denying that he had plundered more than P300 million in taxpayers' money, former military general Carlos Garcia now claims to have never admitted being a comptroller, a position that would have given him vast control over disbursement of funds. "There was no admission that he held the position of comptroller. There were many major generals in the military but not all of them were comptroller," Garcia's lawyer Constantino de Jesus told the Sandiganbayan Second Division. De Jesus said that there was only a reference to Garcia's rank as major general and not as comptroller. But the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) laughed off De Jesus' claim, saying it won't weaken the plunder case against the retired military official. Assistant Solicitor General Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said they would continue to oppose the plea bargaining agreement between the accused and the Office of the Special Prosecutor. "If he (Garcia) was not allowed to plead guilty to lesser offense of direct bribery, he would not be out on bail. He continues to be charged with plunder," Cabotaje-Tang told the anti-graft court. Also under the plea bargain deal, Garcia promised to return P130 million to the government. Cabotaje-Tang stressed that any public official who amassed P50 million or more in ill-gotten wealth should be charged with plunder. The OSG earlier filed a petition for intervention following the announcement of a plea bargaining agreement between Garcia and the Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Office of the Ombudsman. The OSG through Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz also recently filed a supplemental motion before the anti-graft court for the re-arrest and re-arraignment of Garcia, as well as for the cancellation of his bail. The OSG maintained that Garcia's arraignment for direct bribery was void from the very beginning. Cadiz also stressed the agreement was made in violation of the provisions of criminal procedure under the Rules of Court.

SENATE TO GRILL PROSECUTORS: The Senate blue ribbon committee is set to grill special prosecutors involved in the plea bargain that led to the release on bail of ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who allegedly stole P303 million from government coffers. Sen. Teofisto Guingona II, committee chair, on Friday said the hearing set for Thursday next week would look into allegations that the prosecutors had been bribed into accepting the plea bargain. Citing information from Solicitor General Joel Cadiz, the senator reminded the prosecutors that they were under the Office of the President, not the Ombudsman, and as such, they could lose their jobs as a result of the deal. We will determine if there was bribery, Guingona told the Inquirer. "I was told they are employed under the Office of the President. This means they can be fired." Besides the prosecutors, Guingona said the committee summoning former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, ex-comptroller Jacinto Ligot, and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

SENATOR GUINGONA: SUPERIORS MUST HAVE HAD KNOWLEDGE >>> Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III... said the inquiry aims to look into the laws of plea bargaining and whether Garcia was in cahoots with anyone when he allegedly amassed P303.27 million in ill-gotten wealth while he was still in active service. "I think such a large amount of money could not have been stolen without the knowledge of his superiors," said Guingona. Guingona made the announcement a day after Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago accused former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes of having a hand in Garcia's alleged illegal activities. Reyes denied the accusation and challenged Estrada and Santiago to present evidence of his alleged involvement. Guingona said they have invited Garcia, Reyes, and representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutors to attend the hearing. He said they will be subpoenaed if ever they refuse to participate. "They have to explain why this happened," he said.

REYES: "NOT ME" >>> Former Defense Secretary and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes Tuesday broke his silence to deny that he was the "powerful person" behind retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, who is charged with plunder. Reyes said he was putting an end to "widespread speculation" that it was he whom Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had referred to as the man Garcia was "fronting" for when the then AFP comptroller purportedly amassed P303 million.

OFFICE OF SOLICITOR GENERAL: PLEA "NULL, VOID" >>> The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) yesterday accused the Sandiganbayan of illegally allowing former military comptroller Carlos Garcia to plead guilty to lesser offenses under a plea bargaining agreement in violation of the Rules of Court. Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz filed a supplemental motion before the anti-graft court calling for the re-arrest of Garcia, another arraignment and cancellation of the bail granted to the former general.

SOLON WANTS AF CHIEF PROBED: The ball is now in the hands of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to pursue a possible case against former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief and defense secretary Angelo Reyes to see his links to the corruption within the military, Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez said

"US HAPPY WITH HANDLING OF CASE": Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit said the US Department of Justice had congratulated her prosecutors for a job well done. Barreras-Sulit said the actual value of the real properties seized from Garcia may be more than P303 million. The amount is a modest valuation based on current market value, she added.

US NOT CONSULTED: The United States has clarified that it has no role in the plea bargain agreement offered by former Armed Forces comptroller Carlos Garcia to plead guilty to the lesser offenses of direct bribery and money laundering.


WEAK CASE? Now that it can defend itself in media against the innuendos that it took a dive in agreeing to the plea bargain, the Office of the Ombudsman has gone on an offensive. The principal message is that the case filed by then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio was weak and there was a big risk that Garcia would walk free if there was no plea bargain...When we asked Villa-Ignacio in our radio program Karambola sa dwIZ about his reaction to what the Office of the Ombudsman is saying (that the case is weak and there is a strong possibility that Garcia would be acquitted), he said that if this is so then it is surprising that Garcia would even consider entering plea bargaining agreement. If the case was truly weak, as contended by Capistrano, then Garcia would have pushed through with the filing of a demurrer, Villa-Ignacio said. -- Alvin Capino in Manila Standard

GENERAL GARCIA TOO AKED FOR THE RETURN OF $100,000: Apparently the Jan. 9, 2004, excuse letters of brothers Ian Carl and Juan Paolo Garcia didn't work. US feds refused to return the $100,000 smuggled cash confiscated from them on Dec. 19, 2003, at San Francisco airport. The claim of Ian Carl, then 25, didnt wash that the money was for his medical treatment, youngest brother Timothy Mark's tuition and condo down payment, and the family's holiday expenses in New York...Futile too was the defense of Juan Paolo, 23, that he feared being queried by Customs officers, just like they did the previous Oct. about his flying first class when he was only a student. So on Jan. 12, 2004, it was the turn of their father, Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia, to write Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

SO WHAT'S NEW: The government has two plunder cases: One against a former AFP general but now downgraded to bribery. So far nothing is yet final without the say-so of the judges of Sandiganbayan roughly translated into Pilipino as "protector of the people."... So far there's no contractor/supplier who can willingly claim having lost millions to greed. But veteran observers can tell us that plunder is not committed in full innocence by the culprits/villains in regular graft cases. Who would want to publicly admit he/she/they paid millions to one or more persons or generals in the AFP?...The plunder cases about mansions and luxury cars are not products of imagination and wild guesses. It's a case of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself). Cannot the return of P135 M by Garcia be considered in the same category or level?


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