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

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Pinoy Solutions to Corruption
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DAVAO CITY CUSTOMS BATTLE: Customs reforms are paying off in the case of Davao City's bustling port, according to officials. Since the major changes in port operations have come into force, Davao has seen its revenue collections rising by P700 million, according to Davao City Councilor Antonio Vergara. Among the reforms was brought about by a decision the Supreme Court rendered last October which ordered that the examination of container vans be conducted only in areas designated as such by the Philippine Ports Authority instead of a local private container yard. District collector Anju Nereo Castigador should get the credit for the reforms he initiated to fight technical smuggling, particularly misdeclaration of goods in his jurisdiction, according to Vergara...Vergara revealed that Castigador's critics have stepped up a campaign to oust the Customs officer after the reforms he instituted including moving the customs operations out of the Aquarius Container Yard...The People's Action Against Corruption convenor Mussolini Lidasan said his group is coordinating with a Customs official who agreed to turn state witness and reveal the anomalies in Davao port...But Vergara said that "the corruption issue against Collector Castigador is a compendium of lies and distortion of facts."... Vergara said since Castigador took office as collector of Davao on Dec. 15, 2009, the Customs had impounded seven shipments of highly dutiable and anti-social goods. These include two attempts to smuggle rice, KIA and Avella cars and spare parts, pyrotechnics, several vans of used clothes and recently one Toyota Tundra and a Hummer with a number of spare tires.

ARMED FORCES CHIEF'S RETIREMENT PAY ENOUGH TO BUY MODEST CAR, HOME: He won't be receiving "pabaon" but Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Ricardo David will be receiving enough money to buy a modest car and a house when he retires from military service on March 8, 2011. In an interview, David said he earned his retirement pay after serving the military for more than 35 years. He said that he hopes the investigation of Congress of alleged misuse of military funds would soon be settled and appropriate charges would be filed against those who committed abuses. He also said he is open to accept a government job after his retirement, one that is commensurate to him being a former AFP chief of staff.

PCGG CHIEF ADMITS SHORTCOMINGS: Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andy Bautista on Monday admitted that the agency had shortcomings in going after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their alleged cronies. On the PCGG's 25th anniversary, Bautista said the agency "had good times and and we are here to come out clean. It's not all good things but we are to right the wrong."...Bautista, however, stressed that they have recovered P93 billion, and cases involving P250-billion worth of assets are still pending in courts. He admitted that some court cases have yet to be resolved after 25 years. He added that it would be difficult for them to find out now if the Marcoses have other hidden wealth.

NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION MOVEMENT FORMED: Various personalities and reform-oriented organizations joined forces on Monday in the fight against corruption by launching a broad anti-corruption movement, Mabuting Pilipino. The move is seen as a strong show of support for whistleblowers Heidi Mendoza and former military budget officer Col. George Rabusa, who have exposed anomalies in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Members of the Mabuting Pilipino movement said the group aims to harmonize their reform initiatives to have a cohesive fight against corruption. They also want to "reaffirm, and nurture good Filipino citizenship values, like truth-telling, 'bayanihan, concern for fellowmen and women, and love of country." Mabuting Pilipino is led by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, folk singer Noel Cabangon, and (Ret.) Brigadier General Danilo Lim. "Corruption has been so rampant in the Philippines. In the past administration, corruption happened with impunity," the group said.

UNION URGES PROBE OF p400m WITHDRAWN FROM AVIATION AUTHORITY: More than P400 million in massive withdrawals by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in the last months of the previous administration could have been patterned after the "pabaon" system of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The CAAP Employees Union (CAAP-EU) urged the Senate to investigate several withdrawals made by former CAAP director general Ruben Ciron. The union claimed Ciron made massive withdrawals, assisted by his chief of staff Ronaldo Manlapig, in March 2010.

INACTION IN FERTILIZER FUND MESS TO BE USED IN IMPEACHMENT CASE: Endorsers of an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is readying the pieces of evidence to prove her gross inaction and negligence of duty. In a press briefing Monday, progressive party-list legislators said that the Ombudsman has not filed a single case against former officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) implicated in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

GOVERNOR: NEPOTISM CASE SEEKS TO SUSPEND VICE GOVERNOR >>> THE nepotism case filed by five members of the majority in the Provincial Board (SP) of Misamis Oriental was designed to suspend the vice governor, Governor Oscar Moreno said. "They (majority bloc) wanted Vice Governor Norris Babiera to be suspended so that no one can stop them of their intention to dominate and control the Sanggunian (board)," Moreno said. Moreno said it was then Vice Governor Julio Uy who appointed Filemon Aguilar Jr. as acting Provincial Board secretary after Martin Samayla, faced charges before the Civil Service Commission (CSC). While Aguilar was the acting secretary, Babiera at that time was also a Provincial Board member. Both Babiera and Aguilar are second degree relative by consanguinity because their wives are sisters.

SUPREME COURT ORDERS LOWER COURTS TO SPEED UP: The Supreme Court has reminded lower court judges to promptly resolve the cases they were handling after it imposed a P40,000 fine on a retired Cebu regional trial court judge, who failed to decide on hundreds of cases assigned to him..."We cannot overemphasize the court's policy on prompt resolution of disputes. Justice delayed is justice denied," said the ruling penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta. "The honor and integrity of the judicial system is measured not only by the fairness and correctness of decisions rendered, but also by the efficiency with which disputes are resolved," the court added..."There is no excuse for mediocrity in the performance of judicial functions. The position of judge exacts nothing less than faithful observance of the law and the Constitution in the discharge of official duties," the justices said.

ASOCIATE JUSTICE: SUPREME COURT DIDN'T DEBATE OMBUDSMAN'S PETITION >>> The Supreme Court initially shielded Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez from impeachment in the House of Representatives by granting her motion for certiorari of Sept. 13, 2010, "without" deliberating on the petition, according to Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. Sereno, President Benigno Aquino III's first and only appointee to the high court, shared this information in her separate opinion supporting the tribunals Feb. 15 ruling that allowed the House justice committee to resume with the impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez. The latest court decision also lifted the status quo ante order which the magistrates - in a vote of 8-3 with four abstentions - issued in favor of the Ombudsman on Sept. 14, 2010, a day after she filed the petition. The status quo ante order suspended the House impeachment proceedings for five months. "(T)he issuance of the status quo ante order in this case was most unfortunate," Sereno said. She noted that her colleagues granted Gutierrez's petition despite her and Senior Associate Justices Antonio Carpio's and Conchita Carpio Morales' objections. "I believed then, as I believe now, that the court was overly intrusive with respect to a power that does not belong to it by restraining without hearing a coequal branch of government," she argued. Sereno added that this "belief was made more acute by the fact that the order was voted upon in the morning of Sept. 14, 2010, without the benefit of a genuinely informed debate."

"STILL NO CASE FILED AGAINST EX-AGRICULTURE SECRETARY FOR FERTILIZER SCAM": The Ombudsman has not yet filed any case against former Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo and Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante over the alleged P728 million fertilizer fund scam. Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) secretary-general Danilo Ramos showed House media a certification to that effect issued by the Sandiganbayan February 25, 2011. The certification was signed by Atty. Renato Bocar, executive clerk of court IV. ACT Teachers' party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said the certification runs counter to statements made by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez during a July 2010 press conference where she said there are findings of graft and malversation of funds against the 2 and will be filing cases against them.

RABUSA TO FILE PLUNDER RAPS AGAINST ALMOST 20: Former military budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa said he will file plunder complaints against almost 20 individuals, including two former Armed Forces chiefs of staff and two former military comptrollers. During Monday's launching of the "Mabuting Pilipino" anti-corruption campaign of civil societies, Rabusa said he will file a detailed complaint-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday. The complaint-affidavit will initiate the DOJ's preliminary investigation into alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

WHISTLEBLOWERS, WITNESS PROTECTION AMONG 23 HUIGH PRIORITY BILLS: A measure that seeks to protect whistle-blowers in anomalous government transactions will be among the 23 priority bills that President Benigno Aquino III will present when he convenes for the first time the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) on Monday. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the priority bills initially identified numbered to 17, but they added six more to include the proposed anti-trust law, protection and security to whistle-blowers, amendments to the Witness Protection Program, creation of a water regulatory body, government procurement reforms, and defining the powers and functions of the Department of National Defense

ARMED FORCES ASK LAWMAKERS TO CONTINUE FUNDING: Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Ricardo David Jr. appealed to lawmakers yesterday to continue the release of funds for the military modernization program to improve the morale of soldiers despite allegations of corruption in the AFP. David said efforts are underway to investigate the officers allegedly involved in previous malpractices and to ensure that resources are used properly. "We should investigate reports that there are anomalies in the handling of the budget. (But) that is not the reason for our planners, for our Congress to stop the modernization of the armed forces..."

IMPEACH PROCESS TO PROCEED: The impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will continue even without her participation, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said yesterday. Tupas, chairman of the House committee on justice, said the Ombudsman has until today (Monday) to answer the two impeachment complaints against her that are pending with his committee. "If the Ombudsman does not submit an answer, a general denial (of the accusations in the complaints) will be entered in her behalf," he said. "Then on Tuesday (tomorrow), the committee will proceed on the determination of the sufficiency of the grounds for impeachment. If the committee votes that the grounds are sufficient, three days will be allotted for clarificatory hearings before the vote on probable cause (to impeach Gutierrez)," he added.

SUPREME COURT: NO MORE DISCUSSION ON TRUTH COMMISSION >>> The Supreme Court has denied the government's request to hold another round of oral arguments to thresh out the constitutionality of the Truth Commission with the help of amici curiae or friends of the court. The decision was another blow to the Aquino administration's effort to hold former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a member of the House of Representatives, and her allies accountable for alleged corruption during her nine-year term. The high court's resolution, dated February but released only on Friday, did not specify its reasons for denying the motion of the Office of the Solicitor General.

PHILIPPINES INVOKES PEOPLE POWER, 25 YEARS ON, TO END CORRUPTION: Philippine President Benigno Aquino used the 25th anniversary of the people power revolution that drove dictator Ferdinand Marcos into exile by calling for an end to graft in one of the world's most corrupt countries. Aquino said the restoration of democracy in the Southeast Asian country had been betrayed by corrupt officials who amassed massive wealth at the expense of the nation. Successive governments in the Philippines have vowed to crack down on corruption, and nothing has come of it. While Aquino did not offer any specifics, he has in the last eight months reviewed government deals and canceled dubious contracts. "If government's coffers were not raided, the Filipinos could have enjoyed growth and prosperity," Aquino said at the Manila highway where a million people gathered 25 years to topple Marcos and install Aquino's mother, Corazon, as president. "Democracy will be strengthened if people start believing in their government, especially if they will join to denounce the corrupt system," said Aquino...


PARTY SEEKS TO SPREAD PORK AMONG CIVIL SOCIETY ALLIES: A BILL backed by the Liberal Party has been filed to "democratize the power of the purse" by giving civil society groups equal footing with lawmakers in crafting the national budget. The plenary debates on the bill, filed by House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, have begun in time for the civil society-led People Power celebrations to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship. House Bill 3773 seeks to grant civil society the right to take part in the budget deliberations at both the national and local levels, Tañada said, noting that only Congress had the exclusive power over the purse now. He said the bill would provide for a process of accreditation through which chosen representatives will be invited as resource persons during budget hearings. "There, civil society can present their own findings and experiences with how funded programs work,

DOJ TO PROBE MILITARY OFFICERS' KIN, DUMMIES: The Department of Justice (DOJ) will not limit its investigation into alleged corruption in the military to present and past military officials, but will extend the scope of its probe to members of the officials' families and possible dummies.

CONSTRUCTION WHISTLEBLOWERS URGED: We need to be whistle-blowers to save thousands of lives. In the wake of the recent destructive New Zealand earthquake, urban planner and architect Felino A. Palafox Jr. has urged contractors, particularly those who took on government projects such as public schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and ports, to come out and blow the whistle on the projects to avoid a catastrophe. "Contractors, consultants, suppliers and all those who may have knowledge of corruption in specific infrastructure, buildings and land developments should report the truth like Heidi Mendoza and Colonel Rabusa so the projects could be given priority in structural, geologic and hydrologic audits"...Palafox said he personally knew of some projects and structures that had become structurally unsound due to budget filching. He said countries with a history of rampant corruption suffered more fatalities in disasters...

OMB INSISTS GARCIA PLEA BARGAIN ACCORD VALID: The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) maintained Friday that the plea bargaining agreement it entered into with Major Gen. Carlos Garcia is valid. This was in reaction to the asseveration of Justice Sec. Leila de Lima during the Senate hearing, where she seconded the opinion given by UP Dean Marvic Leonen. In his letter sent to the Senate, Leonen said the said plea bargaining agreement was void from the beginning because the consent of the offended party, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was not obtained, allegedly contrary to the Rules of Court. Deputy Special Prosecutor Jesus Micael clarified that the provision of the Rules of Court being referred to by de Lima and Leonen is applicable only when a private offended party is involved. However, he said in the Garcia case the offended party is the "People of the Philippines" duly represented by the Office of the Ombudsman thru the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

HOUSE COMMITTEE REPORT RECOMMENDS DISMISSAL OF SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: The House committee on justice passed a resolution recommending to President Aquino the dismissal of Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit of the Office of the Ombudsman and the filing of appropriate charges against four other prosecutors for entering into an irregular plea bargain agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. The powerful committee has conducted three public hearings on the controversial plea bargain agreement where the charges against Garcia, who allegedly amassed over P300 million while he was chief finance officer of the Armed Forces, were downgraded from plunder and money laundering to direct bribery among other lesser crimes in February last year.

OMBUDSMAN URGED NOT TO DELAY IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS: The chairman of the House committee on justice urged beleaguered Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez yesterday to no longer delay the impeachment process against her. Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said Gutierrez has already delayed the process by five months by questioning the authority of the House to impeach her before the Supreme Court. "To allow again the clearly dilatory tactics will be too much," he said. Tupas was apparently referring to Gutierrez's decision to take advantage of the full 15-day period for her to appeal the Supreme Court's decision last Feb. 15 throwing out her petition challenging the impeachment proceedings that the Tupas committee started against her in September. As of yesterday, she had not filed her appeal. She has said she would not comply with the directive of the committee on justice to answer the two impeachment complaints against her until the high court rules on such appeal.

ROBREDO BLOCKS 3 DISADVANTAGEOUS TRANSACTIONS: Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo disclosed that he blocked at least three transactions to purchase equipment for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) that are disadvantageous to the government. Robredo ordered PNP and BFP officials to re-bid the procurement for firearms, fire trucks and breathing apparatus.

CHINESE ZTE EXECS WILLING TO TESTIFY: Executives of the ZTE Corp., the Chinese telecommunications firm involved in the controversial $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal, are willing to testify in court about their dealings with government officials but are worried for their safety, according to deputy special prosecutor John I. C. Turalba. Turalba said whistleblower Jun Lozada, who is supposedly in contact with the Chinese officials, has assured the prosecutors that the two are willing to testify in the Sandiganbayan in the trial of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri to shed light on the allegedly corrupt $329-million deal during the previous Arroyo administration.

SULTAN KUDARAT LTO REGISTRATION ANOMALY DISCOVERED LONG AGO: The anomaly in the registration of vehicles from Subic Bay Freeport, which involved a satellite office of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Sultan Kudarat province, had been uncovered as early as seven years ago, the agency's head in Central Mindanao said Wednesday. Samaon Mustapha, LTO Central Mindanao director, told the Inquirer by phone that this was the main reason he ordered the shutting down of the Kalamansig town satellite office in 2004, when he assumed office.

E-PROCUREMENT SYSTEM TARGETS LATE 2011 LAUNCH: ...the PhilGEPS, once in full implementation, becomes "the single, centralised electronic portal that shall serve as the primary and definitive source of information on government procurement" as prescribed under R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. This means that all government agencies would be required eventually to transact their procurement needs through PhilGEPS... The portal wILL improve transparency in government procurement as every detail of the requirement is made accessible to the wILL also increase competition resulting in more competitive pricing among bidders...provide audit trails with reports on government purchases and winning bidders; and help implement government procurement policies.

COURT SENDS EX-PAMPANGA MAYOR TO JAIL: For her failure to issue a business permit on a woman whom she had a misunderstanding, the former mayor of Masantol town in Pampanga got six to 10 years jail term. The Sandiganbayan found former mayor Corazon Lacap guilty for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Fermina Santos, who applied for Mayor's Permit in 1999 and 2000 but was apparently snubbed by Lacap. Santos narrated their rift started when she filed a case against Lacap's friend, Abelardo Dizon. She said the mayor asked her to withdraw the complaint against Dizon but she rejected the request.

OMBUDSMAN: I WILL FIGHT TO THE END >>> Bracing for a tough impeachment battle, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez vowed yesterday to put up a good fight, saying she has not been remiss in her duty to prosecute corrupt officials. "I have not done anything wrong," she told ANCs "Headstart" as she claimed a clean record during her 40 years in government service. "I am willing to face the impeachment trial even if this reaches the Senate. I believe impeachment will not prosper because it is baseless," she said. "My conscience is clear, I'm willing to finish this process," she stressed. Gutierrez also rejected calls for her to resign

3 NEW LAWS SOUGHT AMIDST CORRUPTION PROBE: Senator Franklin Drilon on Thursday sought the creation of three pieces of legislation in light of the Senate's findings in the course of their inquiry on the controversial plea bargain deal between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman as well as the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines...>>> a law to "regulate" plea bargaining>>> amendment to Republic Act 9160 (Anti-Money Laundering Act0 >>> amendment to RA 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989). In seeking a law to regulate plea bargaining, Drilon cited the case of Garcia, who is facing plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan but was allowed to walk free after pleading guilty to direct bribery and violation of the anti-money laundering law. In calling for an amendment to RA 9160, Drilon cited the "massive" withdrawals made by some military officials in connection with the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces. "We have seen how the financial institutions have totally ignored their own rule of Know Your Customer by allowing the general in the Armed Forces, with no known income sufficient to justify his P740 million deposit in their banks.... not raising a flag or just allowing the deposits to be made and in effect making their financial institutions the haven for corruption," he said. On the Ombudsman Act, Drilon noted that the law never intended to give the Office of the Ombudsman the power to prosecute.

PALACE EYES DISMISSAL FOR GARCIA-DEAL PROSECUTORS: Malacanang is studying the possible dismissal from service of Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit and her deputies following the controversial plea bargain deal they had forged with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. ...Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Office of the Executive Secretary is "already working" on disciplinary proceedings against Sulit and his deputies. She said the Palace is specifically assessing if there are ample grounds to impose the penalty of dismissal on the prosecutors involved in the plea-bargain deal. "We are looking at the same ground used for the impeachment of the Ombudsman like culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust,"... She noted that Office of the President has the authority to order the removal of the special prosecutors, who are under the independent Office of the Ombudsman.

SENATOR DEFENDS OMBUDSMAN: Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez Wednesday drew support from Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada amid accusations that her office bungled the plunder case against ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia. Estrada, heretofore a vocal critic of Gutierrez, said her predecessor Simeon Marcelo should instead get the blame. "The plunder charge filed against Garcia by the former Ombudsman is very, very weak thats why I cannot blame Merceditas," he told reporters. "Because if you file a weak case, most likely (the accused) will be acquitted." Estrada also took Marcelo and former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, to task for failing to file plunder charges against retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot,


AFP FUNDS FROM UN "NEVER AUDITED": Reimbursements for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from the United Nations (UN) for Peacekeeping operations during the time of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia were never audited. This was the revelation by Commission on Audit Assistant Commissioner Lourdes Castillio before a joint inquiry of the House of Representatives committees on National Defense and Security and Appropriations. Castillio told the joint committee that they only started auditing in 2004. Prior to that, they had no documents to work on as there were no separate books of accounts for the UN fund.

SOLON: NO REPLY FROM OMBUDSMAN WILL HASTEN IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS >>> The justice committee in the House of Representatives is bent on pushing through with a hearing next week to vote if the impeachment complaint against Merceditas Gutierrez has grounds, Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the chairman of the committee said. Gutierrez indicated over a television interview she would not answer the charges in the committee but file instead a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court, which earlier dismissed her petition questioning the complaints. Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, vice chairman of the justice committee, said the committee could speed up proceedings if Gutierrez would not reply because it could proceed with the voting on the grounds and probable cause.

EX-OMBUDSMAN: GOVERNMENT PROSECUTORS BUNGLED PLUNDER CASE >>> Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo has accused the state prosecutors of deliberately bungling the plunder case against former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. "[I'll tell you this] bluntly, hinuhulog nyo ang kaso [you are sabotaging the case]," an emotional Marcelo told the prosecutors present during the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday. Marcelo said it was only now that he realized that the cases had been filed against him because he was against the plea bargain agreement, which the prosecutors had entered into with Garcia, whose arrangement has reduced his charge from plunder to direct bribery.

HOUSE MUST VOTE ON WHAT TO DO WITH CONVICTED SOLON: "At stake is the credibility and integrity of the House," Congressman Niel Tupas, chairman of the committee on ethics said.

PHILIPPINE CONGRESSMAN GETS 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR BRINGING COCAINE INTO HONG KONG: Singson was caught with 0.24 ounces (6.67 grams) of cocaine in July while transiting through Hong Kong's airport en route to the gambling enclave of Macau. He has pleaded guilty to a charge of trafficking in a dangerous drug...Singson, 42, previously testified he had used cocaine at various times since 2004 and amphetamines in his 20s. He said he went on a cocaine-and-gambling binge after attending an Usher concert in Manila and arguing with his girlfriend. He was arrested en route to a poker tournament in Macau. Singson added that he was undergoing rehabilitation for his drug addiction. Singson is the son of Luis "Chavit" Singson, a provincial governor in the Philippines whose testimony in the corruption trial of his former friend, ex-President Joseph Estrada, helped convict the ousted leader in 2007

SPECIAL REPORT: CURING AN AGE-OLD PROBLEM >>> The country now ranks 134th among 178 countries listed under the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index published by global watchdog Transparency International (TI). It was 44th most corrupt worldwide and 9th most corrupt in Asia-Pacific...corruption is like termites that destroy from the inside. It will contribute and pervade among the other problems in society, such as poverty, criminality, drug addiction, diseases, calamities and even wars, among others. It can occur anywhere, whether in the government or private sector, and it is not confined to a particular person, time or place,said lawyer Virginia Palanca-Santiago, assistant Ombudsman for the Visayas... Not unless the Filipinos change their culture, especially their values, there will never be improvement...

COA: NO UN PEACEKEEPING FUND REPORT PROVIDED >>> A Comission on Audit (COA) official disclosed that it was not provided with reports on peacekeeping funds worth $3.3 million received by the military from the United Nations (UN). This was admitted by COA Assistant Commissioner Lourdes Castillo after she was questioned..."I have to inform this body that there was no separate book of accounts for the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] for the purpose. Hence, there was no separate report on accounting and expenses of these funds," Castillo said...Some of the funds were alleged to have been misused and lined pockets of some military officials. The COA was not provided with the necessary reports on peacekeeping funds despite requests from their agency to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Castillo added.

PROSECUTORS HIT FOR NEGLIGENCE: Government prosecutors were "grossly negligent" for letting dismissed major general Carlos Garcia to plead guilty before the Sandiganbayan could rule on a plea bargain on his plunder case. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile hit the prosecutors Thursday for not objecting to Garcia's plea of guilty on bribery and facilitation of money laundering instead of the plunder he originally faced. The Senate president said their action let "jeopardy set in," and that this might make it impossible to make Garcia liable for allegedly stealing more than P300 million from the military. Assistant Special Prosecutor Jose Balmeo defended their inaction saying the approval of the plea bargain was at the discretion of the Sandiganbayan, the anti-corruption court hearing the case. "The discretion was with the court but it was the duty of the prosecution to object," Enrile said, scolding the prosecution team.

PROBE CAPITOL'S CASH ADVANCES: THE Provincial Board (PB) in Misamis Oriental passed two resolutions on Tuesday calling for investigation on the P96 million unsettled cash advances at the Capitol. PB member Geodequil Ursal said the issue hounding the unsettled P96 million cash advances casts doubt on the integrity of the august body and the entire bureaucracy of the province.

LIGOT GRILLED OVER BROTHER-IN-LAW'S PROPERTIERS: Senator Franklin Drilon on Thursday questioned former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot how his brother-in-law acquired P300 million in cash and assets from 1999 to 2004 despite being unemployed. Drilon, chairman of the Senate finance committee, asked Ligot how his brother-in-law Edgardo Yambao made so much money and bought expensive properties without having any declared mode of income. He explained that Yambao retired in 1999 and did not file an income tax return from then until 2004. During this time, he said millions were deposited to his bank account. "He is a mysterious person here," Drilon said...

URDANETA CITY HONEST CASUAL EMPLOYEE GETS PROMOTION: For returning a wallet with P50,000 cash which he found in the comfort room of a building which he regularly cleans, a casual worker of the city government gets promoted as a regular employee starting Monday.

CUSTOMS OFFICIAL TO EXPOSE ANOMALIES AT PORT OF DAVAO: A ranking Bureau of Customs (BOC) official is set to expose alleged corruption in the agency, specifically in the Port of Davao, an anti-corruption watchdog said yesterday. In a press conference at the Ateneo de Davao Universitys Jacinto campus, Mussolini Lidasan, convenor of the People's Action Against Corruption (PAAC), said they are now coordinating with the Customs official who agreed to turn state witness once the Senate conducts its inquiry into alleged Customs anomalies in this city. The Customs official reportedly decided to testify after learning that he would be made a sacrificial lamb by higher BOC officials following the discovery of 40 vans that contained smuggled rice but declared as construction materials. The discovery was made by businessman Rodolfo Reta who owns and operates the Acquarius Container Yard (ACY), which the BOC is using as its designated examination area (DEA) under a 25-year Container Yard Outside Customs Zone agreement. The Customs official, according to reports, is now on floating status and is poised to file a case against Port of Davao Customs Collector Anju Nereo Castigador

MAP URGES SPEED, INTENSITY IN ANTI-SMUGGLING DRIVE: The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) is urging the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs to pursue anti-smuggling efforts with maximum speed and intensity, saying that plugging the revenue hole would go a long way in addressing fiscal problems. While the MAP commended the DOF for taking anti-corruption steps and for enhancing the capability of the BOC, it recommended several measures to make bigger strides in anti-smuggling.


SOLONS VOTE TO GIVE SELVES MORE PORK, PERKS: The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to approve a bill giving themselves control of between P20 million and P30 million in funds for their pet public work projects to be taken from the multibillion-peso road user's tax. Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said he was not surprised that only four of the 199 House members present at Tuesday's plenary session voted to turn down what he called additional pork barrel for lawmakers. The senators are expected to get an additional P60 million on top of the P200 million annual pork barrel - euphemistically called the priority development assistance fund (PDAF)- that each senator collects. Representatives get P70 million each year in PDAF allocation.

COMMISSION ON AUDIT CHIEF VILLAR RESIGNS: Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Reynaldo Villar has filed his resignation effective upon the appointment of his successor. In a three-page letter to President Aquino dated Feb. 22, Vilar denied allegations that he is clinging to his post. "What pained me, my family and co-workers is that some media practitioners and even politicians have alleged that I am simply clinging to the office and to power without any legal basis," he said. He described the present condition of the commission to be at "its bleakest" in the 23 years he had been in it. "Not because it has failed in meeting its mandate of safekeeping the coffers of the government but because of the perception that is has failed to do so," Villar said. "Perception and reality can be indistinguishable in some instances but it can be polar opposites in other cases. This time the perception and reality are poles apart," he added. He said the COA has been able to prevent the wastage of billions of pesos in government funds in the past few years. He cited a statement of former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel in 2008 that the commission is the only performing agency under the Arroyo administration.

ROMULO PREFERS COA POST: Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, a close friend of the Aquino family, said he would prefer the chairmanship of the Commission on Audit (COA) as he prepared to relinquish his post to former ambassador to Washington Albert del Rosario at an informal briefing on Wednesday. Romulo said he was a "good soldier" and would accept any position that President Benigno Aquino III would offer him.

TURF WAR TURNS INTO LEGAL BATTLE: The turf war between Finance and Customs officials has spilled to the court and turned into a legal battle. This time, it was the turn of Customs officials to file cases against lawyer and intelligence officer Esteban Pancho Garong and Ruben Anthony Frugoso of DoF for libel, perjury, usurpation of official function, and four cases of damages and disbarment. They were charged by the group of Port of Manila district collector Rogel Gatchalian and lawyer Marlon Agaceta before the Manila and Quezon City Prosecutor's Office. The cases filed against the two finance officials emphasized that their previous actions in filing the graft case against them was an act of vindication and in retaliation to the apprehension of the illegal shipment of counterfeit branded footwear.

SUPREME COURT DEMANDS PROOF OF LOBBYING,BRIBERY CHARGES: Supreme Court (SC) again dared Lauro Vizconde yesterday to present proof of 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. Court Administrator and SC spokesman Midas Marquez said the High Court is not inclined at this point to investigate a new insinuation by the widower that it was Chief Justice Renato Corona who bared Carpio's alleged moves and that P50 million in "lobby funds" were offered to the magistrates for Webb's acquittal. "If they have evidence or any witness, bring it out now," he said

OMBUDSMAN WON'T HONOR 3 DAY DEADLINE: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will not comply with the notice of the House of Representatives to file her reply to the two impeachment complaints until the Supreme Court rules with finality on her petition against the House committee on justice. The Office of the Ombudsman, in a statement, said Gutierrez does not have to comply with the three-day deadline by the justice committee because she still has until March 5 to file a motion for reconsideration.

ARE THERE SUFFICIENT VOTES TO IMPEACH OMBUDSMAN?: A key ally of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the House of Representatives said the administration Liberal Party may not have the numbers to speed up the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. "That's always a possibility considering [that] on its own, the LP may not have the numbers. But this is not a foregone conclusion...We should not prejudge the proceedings. That is why there is a process," he said. The LP has about 80 members of the 283 congressmen. The rest are divided among the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, Nationalist People's Coalition, Nacionalista Party and other smaller parties. Lagman admitted the minority has not made any political mapping as to who and how many will vote for or against the impeachment. He said it will also be a conscience vote on the part of the minority.

UN HALTS DIRECT PAYMENTS TO ARMED FORCES: The United Nations (UN) has decided to stop direct remittances of peacekeeping funds to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of alleged abuses and corruption in the military. Consul Elmer Cato of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told a joint hearing of the House committees on defense and appropriations that the UN would instead remit the multi-million dollars peacekeeping funds to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Following the UN decision, Cato said the DFA has turned over to the treasury some $3.3 million (more than P120 million) in remittances that the department refused to forward to the AFP in 2008 "because of the Garcia case."

RETIRED GENERAL: "PABAON" PHENOMENON STARTED AFTER EDSA >>> A retired general, who served even after the end of martial law in the 1980s, believes the financial anomalies tainting the Armed Forces of the Philippines began after military reformists assumed the AFP leadership under the term of the late President Corazon Aquino. Retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Padiernos, a member of PMA Class of 1965, said military budgeting and accounting during his years fighting communist rebels in Marag Valley in Apayao were simpler and straightforward, and had "relied on merit." Padiernos...said many PMA alumni are certain that military officers and accountants during the administration of Mrs. Aquino began new financial systems for which a few officers may have later used to enrich themselves

NEPOTISM RAPS FILED VS VICE GOVERNOR: FIVE provincial board (PB) members of Misamis Oriental filed Tuesday nepotism case against Vice Governor Norris Babiera and Acting Provincial Board secretary Filemon Aguilar Jr. before the Ombudsman.

ARMY KEEN IN FIGHT VS CORRUPTION: THE 4th Infantry Division in Camp Evangelista signaled its eagerness to help the government in eradicating graft and corruption in the armed forces and the insurgencies in Mindanao. This, after the 4ID took participation in the recently concluded graft and corruption and crime eradication drive launched by the volunteers against crime and corruption (VACC) over the weekend at the Poblacion, Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental. VACC has been campaigning to residents in Mindanao for several years already focusing on corruption eradication education.

COA WHISTLEBLOWER HEIDI MENDOZA NAMED "WOMAN OF COURAGE": For exposing the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, former Commission on Audit auditor Heidi Mendoza was conferred the Women of Courage Recognition by women's group Gabriela. She joins the ranks of Clarissa Ocampo and Navy Lt. Nancy Gadian who have also shown exemplary courage in revealing the truth despite the risks. In her acceptance speech, Mendoza revealed that she was willing to return to government service.

SENATOR URGES STUDENTS TO WATCH "PORK" FUNDS: Senator Francis Joseph "Chiz" Escudero exhorted students to account local Congressmen on their pork barrel. Escudero was in Cagayan de Oro City recently as speaker of a student forum on leadership at downtown university here. Escudero said every year P200 million is allotted to each Senator while every Congressman gets P70 million, officially known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as pork barrel for infrastructures, education and other projects for their district. Escudero said there is a need for transparency in the disbursement of pork barrel since it would be hard to account for Congressmen expenses considering there are 283 Congressmen in the country.

AUDITOR: EX-REPRESENTATIVE'S DISBURSEMENT FISHY >>> A State auditor on Tuesday accused former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta of graft for disbursing P8 million in pork barrel in 2002 to a cooperative and a private organization founded by his father. Carlito Matias told the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court that Acosta's disbursement was irregular because the groups that benefited from it were led by Acostas relatives, including his father Juan Acosta and his mother Socorro Acosta, who was then the mayor of Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon.

NGO WANTS CAPITOL BUDGET TRANSPARENT: A Mindanao-based non-government organization eyed the Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental as "pilot local government unit" on budget transparency project. The Budget Tracking for Transparent Accountable Governance (Bittag) on Friday signed a memorandum of agreement with the Provincial Government, the Department of Interior and Local Government and civil society organization (CSO) to be part during budget deliberations of the local government units here. Paul Richard Paraguya, Bittag project manager, said the program aims to unite the CSOs with the officials of the LGUs in the budget discussions, but CSOs can only suggest and never demand.

PALACE: GARCIA DEAL PROSECUTORS "MAIN OBJECTIVE": While it is supporting the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the Palace said it would like to focus on pressing charges against the prosecutors who entered into a plea bargaining agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. "We support the impeachment process but our main objective right now is to go after the special prosecutors in the Garcia plea bargain, because they are within the jurisdiction of the Office of the President under the Ombudsman Act," said , Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in an interview. Sources said President Aquino personally wanted Gutierrez out as Ombudsman because he considered the anti-graft body as a roadblock rather than help in his fight against corruption. Aquino had been vocal in his displeasure at the way the cases against the Arroyos and other government officials were being dealt with by the Ombudsman, saying her office were quite slow and had not made significant achievements in prosecuting big personalities involved in graft and corruption. Under Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6670 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, special prosecutors "may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process."

SENATOR: OVERHAUL COA SYSTEM: THE procedures used by the Commission on Audit in auditing disbursements of military funds should be "overhauled" to stop the collusion of state auditors and military officials in covering up corruption in the Armed Forces. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV made the call as he urged the Senate Committee on Finance to review the practices and responsibilities of state auditors. An ongoing Senate probe into the alleged corruption in the military revealed that an auditor and a former COA commissioner benefited from the wide-scale anomaly involving conversion of AFP funds. Trillanes cited the statement of former military budget officer retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa that former COA Commissioner Raul Flores and Divina Cabrera, then resident auditor with the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), received two percent of converted funds from erring officials in exchange for their cooperation.

EX-SOLON'S KIN GAINED FROM PORK BARREL: Two witnesses have testified before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division that the relatives of former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta allegedly benefited from the use of his pork barrel. Commission on Audit auditor Carlito Matias and Engineer Pangan, ex-director of the Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries, Inc. (BINHI) and the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative (BVPC), made the position during the hearings of the alleged P10.5-million fraud involving government funds filed against Acosta. They said that the relatives of Acosta, including his father Juan Acosta, his mother Socorro Acosta and his aunt, Nemia Bornidor were allegedly among those who administered and supervised the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel of the former lawmaker.

OMBUDSMAN CHARGES CUSTOMS OFFICIALS: Graft and administrative charges have been filed by the employees of the Finance Department against four Bureau of Customs officials and several others at the Office of the Ombudsman. Charged were Port of Manila customs collector Rogel Gatchalian, Gatchalians staff lawyer Marlon Agaceta, special assistant Paulino Elevado, spot checker Reffy Gorre and 12 other respondents. In a 22-page complaint-affidavit, lawyer Esteban Garong accuses Gatchalian and other respondents of allegedly defrauding the government of more than P3 million in revenues after he facilitated the release of misdeclared goods without paying the necessary taxes.

COA TO AUDIT UN REMITTANCES: The committees on appropriations and national defense asked the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit of all United Nations remittances to the government for peacekeeping troops sent to other countries. At the same time, defense committee chairman Rodolfo Biazon also asked the audit agency to look into the alleged double charging of aircraft repair to the UN fund and to another special fund...the detailed audit could be conducted now because the UN has provided records of the remittances. In previous years...COA was not able to study these documents because it had been unable to get these from the Armed Forces during its audit investigations.

CALOOCAN MAYOR FACES GRAFT RAPS: Caloocan City Vice-Mayor Edgar Erice has filed corruption charges against Mayor Enrico Echiverri before the Office of the Ombudsman...In his complaint affidavit, Erice alleged that on September 19, 2008, Echiverri signed an MOA with Gotesco president Jose Go, wherein it was stipulated that the purchase price for a 22,685.82 square-meter lot owned by Caloocan City where the Gotesco Grand Central is situated shall be payable on installment. Erice, in a press statement, said Echiverri negotiated with Gotesco without first obtaining authority from the Sangguniang Panlungsod, as mandated by Section 22 [c] of RA 7160. He said the MOA was also not submitted to the city council for ratification, as required under Section 455 (b)(vi) of the same code.

P50m WEBB "LOBBY MONEY" FUND BARED: Both Chief Justice Renato Corona and Lauro Vizconde were purportedly warned in 2006 by a then justice of the Court of Appeals that P50 million in "lobby money" was being offered to magistrates to secure the acquittal of Hubert Webb. Vizconde himself made the claim in an affidavit dated Jan. 27, 2011, but did not indicate whether then appellate justice Jose Mendoza had named any person behind the purported lobby.

DEPT OF EDUCATION SIGNS INTEGRITY PLEDGE WITH SUPPLIERS: The Department of Education forged an integrity pact with its suppliers, business partners and civil society groups as a concrete step to address corruption both in government and private sector and set up mechanisms to operate business ethically and with integrity. The pact was signed by DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro and the representatives of over 60 suppliers including 39 publishers and copyright owners, seven printing companies, three office supplies and equipment companies...In the integrity pledge, the business sector declared to prohibit bribery in any form and ensure that its charitable and political contributions, business gifts and sponsorships are transparent and are not aimed to attempt to influence the recipient whether from government or the private sector. The business sector also pledged to maintain a code of conduct to guide its employees towards ethical and accountable behavior at all times and committed to apply appropriate sanctions to violators of the code.

CORRUPTION'S GRATITUDE MONIES: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records disclosed that $308,000 was deposited in the Citibank account of Clarita Garcia at the New York branch located at One Park Avenue in January of 2004. The investigation showed that Clarita Garcia was aware of the legal requirement to declare the amount of currency above $10,000 being brought into the US because six months before the $100,000 was seized from her sons for non-declaration, she entered the US carrying $48,000 which she declared. In fact, the day before her sons were caught with undeclared cash, she brought in $100,000 which she also declared. The following month, when she arrived in San Francisco, Clarita Garcia declared to US Customs that she had $204,230 in her possession. The US government's investigation of the Garcias identified three assets in the US listed under the name of Clarita Garcia-- a $765,000 Trump Park Avenue Condominium at 502 Park Avenue, New York; a $750,000 apartment at 222 East 34th Street, also in New York, and a house at 625 Vancouver Drive, Westerville, Ohio. Those assets could only have been purchased with "gratitude monies" as the highest monthly salary ever drawn by Gen. Garcia as AFP Comptroller was P37,000 ($950).

LAND TRASPORTATION OFFICE CHIEF & 25 STAFF IN HOT WATER: Police sued Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres on May 7, 2009, when she was the head of the LTO-Tarlac office for allegedly falsifying documents to devalue an imported sports utility vehicle and pay a lower tax, not because it was stolen...Torres is among 26 LTO officials and police personnel identified by Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, HPG chief, allegedly involved in vehicle registration anomalies.

PCIJ: ON EDSA'S 25TH CORRUPTION DEVOURS THE ARMED FORCES >>> This week, the nation marks the 25th anniversary of that revolution, which most Filipinos had hoped would mean a fresh, clean start not only for the armed forces, but for the entire country as well. Indeed, for the last 25 years, the Philippines has managed to hold on to democracy, however flawed its version has been. But reforming the military has proven to be an even more difficult task. In the last few weeks, in fact, the stigma of corruption has hung over the armed forces, with the highest levels of command accused as the predators, and troops of the lowest ranks and taxpayers, their prey. Even those like retired Army Gen. Ricardo C. Morales cannot hide their disgust over what they say is a 'dirty' military. Morales, whom Marcos had branded on national television as one of the RAM putschists in 1986, recently told PCIJ in an interview, "The armed forces was created by society. It is owned by the citizens. It is the people who gave our soldiers their coercive weapons. But now the owners are angry." In an unpublished paper he wrote in 2003, Morales had also said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) suffered from widespread corruption and incompetence. These "two evils," he said, "are evidence of a systemic malaise, a defective culture allowed to germinate and take root over several decades and eventually adopted as an organizational value."

OMBUDSMAN ORDERS DISMISSAL OF ZAMBO SIBUGAY CLERK OVER MISSING P200k DISCOVERED BY COA IN 2004: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Tuesday ordered the dismissal of a revenue collection clerk in Zamboanga Sibugay who admitted to using more than P200,000 from his office for personal use. Menardo Basalan, Revenue Collection Clerk III of Siay town, was dismissed over charges of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty, and Grave Neglect of Duty. The charges stemmed from an accumulated cash shortage of P213,619.69, which the Commission on Audit discovered on December 3, 2004.

SENATOR SEEKS REVIEW OF COA RULES FOR POSSIBLE OVERHAUL: Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has filed a resolution seeking a review of the rules and regulations of the Commission on Audit (COA) in light of the supposed involvement of some of its personnel in the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Senate Resolution 390, which was filed late Monday, directs the Senate committee on finance and other appropriate committees to review and revisit existing auditing laws, rules, and regulations as well as the practices and procedures of COA. Trillanes said he filed the measure in light of the revelation by former AFP budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa that a former COA commissioner and a former resident auditor with the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) received payoffs from military officials in exchange for their cooperation.

SENATE SUBPOENAS LIGOT'S WIFE TO CORRUPTION PROBE: The Senate blue ribbon committee has subpoenaed the wife of former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot to Thursday's hearing on the alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)...Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada had earlier revealed that Mrs. Ligot traveled 42 times to Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States from 1993 to 2004, 13 of which were with the wife of the late Defense chief Angelo Reyes, Teresita.

IMPEACH PROCEEDINGS SET IN MARCH: Impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is set this March, the chairman of the committee at the House of Representatives tasked to hold the hearings, said Tuesday, shortly after his members voted to pursue the complaint filed against Gutierrez. The hearings will be held on March 1, 2, 8 and 9, said Ilolilo Representative Niel Tupas of the justice committee, which voted 21-5. Earlier in the day, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. gave his go-ahead for the proceedings. Tupas said Gutierrez would be given three days to answer the complaint.

OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN REPLIES TO PHILIPPINE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM QUESTIONS: "...We would like to correct your data regarding our conviction rate. For 2009, our conviction rate was 33.6%. We posted a 73.42% conviction rate in 2008, the highest conviction rate ever reached by the Office." to read the lengthy reply to to 24 questions sent by PCIJ to the Ombudsman's Office.

WHSTLEBLOWING: WHY EX-NAVY OFFICER SPOKE OUT >>> Ex-Navy Lt. Senior Grade Mary Nancy Gadian described the moves to investigate her as unfair since she was the one alleging wrong-doing by senior military officers. Disgruntled by the treatment she got, she was further encouraged to publicize her claims when she learned from colleagues that some Army personnel were said to be checking on her background --and too her children. ...while she was only slightly concerned with her own safety, it was a totally different thing to hear that officials were allegedly asking questions about her children. "By coming out to tell about corruption in the AFP, my family life was destroyed and the future of my children put to risk," Gadian says. However, the recent and ongoing Senate hearings have given her new determination to have her own voice and account heard. "The people deserve to know the truth on what's happening inside the AFP. Behind the uniform, may mga mukhang demonyo (some are like devils)," Gadian says. "Telling the truth is the only way to clean the rotten system. Our soldiers deserve a better and honorable life."

HEIDI MENDOZA: ME A SAINT? >>> A heroine? No, definitely not, insisted Heidi Mendoza, shaking her head. "In fact, I'm something of a witch," she said...a portrait of Heidi Mendoza that most people did not know: a woman who likes simple pleasures but who regularly buys lotto tickets, a mother who was doted on as a child by her folks but who refuses to spoil her own kids, a hard worker and perfectionist who doesn't like kitchen chores.

PRESIDENT COMMITS TO GO AFTER CORRUPT IN GOVERNMENT: President Aquino Monday pledged before the top officials of Asian Development Bank (ADB) that his administration is committed to file cases against persons involved in corruption and to repair leakages in the revenue system. The President also highlighted his government's campaign to address poverty while allaying concerns of the ADB Board of Directors on anti-corruption efforts as well as fiscal management during a close-door meeting in Malacañang. The Asian Development Bank executives used the opportunity to ask the President about his programs on good governance, poverty alleviation, and fiscal management policies during the one-hour meeting. "It was an opportunity for the President to inform the board the efforts being done by this government towards poverty reduction, anti-corruption efforts specifically on judicial reforms," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters in the Palace. He said the President told the Asian lender that his government is gathering evidence against some personalities involved in corruption to make them accountable in the justice system. "We are resolving all of these landmines that we have discovered. In due time, we will be filing the necessary cases against them," he said.

PRESIDENT VOWS TO PUNISH MILITARY CORRUPTION: The government is bent on uncovering the truth in the controversy hounding the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and vows to punish those who are found guilty, President Benigno Aquino III said. "In the interest of the Filipino people, it is our duty to find the truth behind this controversy. Our point is clear: If there is enough evidence to pin down those guilty, it is our duty to file cases against them," the president said in his message at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Homecoming 2011 in Baguio City. "I fully support the investigation and I trust that those conducting the investigation are one with us," he said. The president said that all those involved in the controversial plea bargaining agreement between military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the state prosecutors must be held accountable. Garcia was accused of plunder, but later allowed to enter into a plea bargain agreement by the Ombudsman.


OMBUDSMAN SEEKS PERJURY CONVICTION OF EX-AFP CHIEF FOR 1992 SALN MISREPRESENTATION: The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Sandiganbayan First Division to declare former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lisandro C. Abadia guilty of perjury for an alleged misrepresentation in his 1992 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to mask a P2.55-million rise in the sum of his properties.

OLD WHISTLEBLOWER, STILL PURSUED AFTER 3 YEARS, SUPPORTS NEW ONES: Whistleblower Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada could be the perfect example of how, in this country, people like him who dare spill the beans on wrongdoing get punished, not rewarded. It is a practice that he said must change under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. Three years after he faced the Senate as star witness exposing the corruption-ridden contract for a national broadband network, Lozada still faces a slew of lawsuits while the people he has accused of making millions of pesos in commissions have mostly escaped sanctions...The cases were filed by the Ombudsman after Lozada testified in the Senate on the wheeling and dealing behind the $329.5-national broadband project entered into by the Arroyo government with the Chinese firm ZTE Corp. Lawsuits are just one of the consequences that this year's batch of whistleblowers - auditor Heidi Mendoza, Col. George Rabusa and Lt. Col. Antonio Lim - have to brace themselves for, Lozada said..."Whatever drove them to do what they did, I'd like to remind them to hold firmly to it because they will be buffeted by storms of emotions, legal cases, physical threats and everything." He appealed to the families of the three whistleblowers to support them. "Once they have decided to carry the banner of truth, life would never be the same again for them," he said...Lozada said he has not seen much action in terms of fighting corruption. "I was expecting a very big war against corruption. Programs that would curb corruption and appointment of people well beyond corrupt practices," Lozada said...Lozada said he sees the decision of Mendoza, Rabusa and Lim to come out and tell the public what they know despite great risks as "a march of truth against the darkness of corruption. Sana marami pa ang maki-martsa sa amin (I hope that more will join us)."

SENATORS: NEW COA CHAIRMAN SHOULD COME FROM INSIDE >>> President Aquino should seriously consider picking among the ranks of the Commission on Audit (CoA) or a career official, instead of a political appointee, to replace outgoing Chairman Reynaldo Villar, senators yesterday said. Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Alan Peter Cayetano were one in expressing this position in the light of the impending vacancy in the commission, the integrity of which was recently marred with alleged corrupt officials embroiled in the anomalies in the military.

SENATOR: SEIZE GARCIA, LIGOT ASSETS: The government can still go after the alleged ill-gotten wealth of retired generals Carlos Garcia and Celso Ligot by filing tax fraud cases against them, Sen. Franklin Drilon said yesterday. Drilon deplored the apparent neglect committed by government prosecutors in filing graft charges against Garcia, who was originally accused of plunder but later allowed by the Ombudsman to enter into a plea bargain agreement. Ligot's alleged properties in the United States and cash deposits, on one hand, are subject of forfeiture proceedings. Some officials of the Anti-Money Laundering Council testified in the Senate last week that they submitted to the Ombudsman in 2007 suspicious bank transactions of Garcia and Ligot.

NO TURNING BACK: NAVY WHISTLEBLOWER FEELS VINDICATED BY AFP FUND MESS >>> Ex-Navy Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Mary Gadian is ready to surface to substantiate the corrupt practices ingrained in the AFP system, now the subject of congressional investigations in aid of legislation midway climaxed by the suicide of former AFP chief of staff General Angelo Reyes. In hiding for security reasons, Gadian praised former AFP budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa for spilling the beans on the bienvenida and despedida monies for AFP chiefs of staff, detailing how funds were misused that were eventually validated by former state auditor Heidi Mendoza... For coming out as a whistleblower, Gadian, on the verge of tears, noted she paid a very stiff price --that of the destruction of her family life and the future hopes for her children. She rarely sees her children due to the lingering threats to her security. Worse she has no means to provide for them...Gadian alleged that in the 2002 and 2007 Balikatan Exercises it was usual for AFP activities to be conducted without official funds because fund transfer is delayed. To address the problem, loans are made from "dealers" with connections to military officers, a scheme described by Gadian as "cost of money." A gas slip is allegedly one of the sources of corruption in the AFP. This practice is endemic as practically every fund release from the AFP general headquarters to the units involves a corresponding "cost of money," according to Gadian, detailing that at the Western Mindanao Command, the "cost of money" includes 8 per cent for the dealer, 6 per cent for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, 5 per cent as commander's contingency, and 3 per cent as command contingency. It all adds up to a total cost or deduction of 22 per cent of the allocated funds. The 6 per cent for the BIR represents payment to those responsible for producing the receipts used to justify expenditures, she explained.

SENATORS DIFFER ON PROSECUTION OF GRAFT: Sen. Franklin Drilon lamented yesterday that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit lacked delicadeza for ignoring calls to resign from their posts following their negligence on the cases involving former military comptrollers retired generals Jacinto Ligot and Carlos Garcia. He assailed Gutierrez and Sulit for what he saw as a "consistent pattern of covering up" the transactions that may have expanded the filing of graft charges against the two former comptrollers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). >>> BUT Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada believes that former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and former government prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio should be blamed for the fiasco in the Garcia case. Rather than blame Gutierrez, Estrada said the "Batman and Robin" tandem of Marcelo and Villa-Ignacio should be held liable for not building up a strong case against Garcia. "They should be blamed because they did not file a strong case. If you read the records they failed to provide enough evidence to pin down Garcia," said Estrada

INVESTIGATING POWER & MONEY - A DEADLY MIX: Gerardo Doc Gerry Ortega, a radio broadcaster and environmentalist from Palawan, was shot dead...on January 24, 2011. He was number 142 in a seemingly never-ending roster of Filipino journalists killed in the line of duty since the end of martial law...Ortega was the anchor of a daily radio program where he repeatedly tackled issues of graft and corruption of government officials and offices...What is most significant in the case of Ortega was that he was on the verge of a major expose of corruption... gathering information about the Malampaya gas funds amounting to close to PhP 3 billion (USD 68 million) that went to Palawan in the past five years and how these monies have been spent. The Commission on Audit has...completed a special audit of these funds and the report is due to be published shortly. It is expected to come down hard and claim serious wrongdoings by government functionaries.

WHISTLEBLOWER PUT ON DEFENSIVE: SOME of the gloss rubbed off whistleblower George Rabusa after former Armed Forces chief Roy Cimatu told a Senate panel Friday that a P10-million "welcome gift" he was accused of accepting was used to support field operations for combat logistics, supplies and medical evacuation.


More IntegriNews



Solon optimistic Gutierrez will be impeached

Congress to criminalize illegal TV cable, Internet connection

Militant solons, farmers prepare proof of Ombudsman's alleged "negligence"

Judge sanctioned for leaving hundreds of cases hanging

Nearly seven years after P728 million fertilizer fund scam was exposed, Office of Ombudsman has yet to file case for plunder

Former military budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa participates in anti-corruption advocates' launch of "Mabuting Pilipino," a movement seeking to promote good governance and responsible citizenship

Supreme Court rejects oral argument for Palace appeal on Truth Commission

MAP: When good governance turns bad

TWO LAWMAKERS: It would be wrong to drastically slash the military budget despite corruption issues hounding the Armed Forces

DOJ to probe allegations vs Ligot, family

Prosecutors in Garcia deal may be axed

Webb lashes out at Vizconde, denies P50-m bribe

Erap to Noynoy: Go all out against corruption

Aquino: Good governance keeps people's trust

A government lawyer from the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday said only the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court can decide on the legality of the plea bargaining agreement of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Philippine government.

DFA now remits UN funds to National Treasury

EU may compel countries to return funds if money is misused

Prosecutors told: You're out to lose Garcia case

Ligot in-law has no job but earned P300M in 5 years

House Justice Committee will vote on grounds for impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez with or without her reply

Department of Justice TO push for law to disallow plea bargaining agreement on plunder cases

Top military and defense officials express support for recently passed House bill seeking to give Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff position fixed three-year term.

Ex-military comptroller denies owning condo unit in Taguig

Ombudsman's lawyer: Too early to answer impeach rap

Two retired generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police yesterday said they are in favor lifestyle checks on top officials of these government organizations to erase doubts of corruption

Drilon wants ex-general's brother-in-law summoned

Justice chief sees need for law on plea bargains

Ombud to appeal SC ruling over impeach proceedings

Charges vs Garcia-deal prosecutors pushed

Ligot's wife has headache, won't attend Senate hearing

How do you reduce fraud in the workplace?

House to start impeachment proceedings vs Ombudsman in March

Senate: Mrs. Ligot nowhere to be found

Collusion at airports eyed

Senate officer fails to serve subpoena to general's wife

Fight threats of injustice, corruption, Filipinos told

PNoy berates implicated officials in AFP corruption

Senate oversight committee to probe intel funds

AFRICANA ONLINE: Philippine Senator Panfilo Lacson Exposing more Cases of Corruption

Senator confident Armed Forces will survive corruption crisis

Take graft czar post, Heidi urged

Ombudsman's impeachment "all but assured"

Why the Supreme Court said "Yes" to Impeachment

Ligot: P30,000 pay, P740m fortune

Justice asked: Prosecute developer in scam





MILITARY'S UNEXPLAINED FUNDS: In 2002, for example, the PS requested by Arroyo for the DND-AFP was P50.355 billion while the staffing summary salaries only amounted to P26.105 billion, or a difference of P24.250 billion. In 2010, P41.253 billion was allocated by Congress even if the staffing summary salaries only amounted to P19.387 billion. The total discrepancy from 2002 to 2010 amounted to P179 billion... The budget, if not totally transparent and meticulously scrutinized, is a gold mine for a type of corruption far destructive than all the corruption scandals combined. If there is anything that should be learned from the current AFP scandal, it is the need for a comprehensive overhaul of the budget process. This will definitely not solve the inherent and systemic corruption in government, but it will go a long way in making sure that the corrupt cannot simply steal at the flick of a finger. -- Neri Javier Colmenares in Philippine Daily Inquirer

...technocracy without morality has allowed, nay facilitated, the siphoning of public funds into private pockets. If the 'walang kurap, walang mahirap' (no corrupt, no poor) slogan can be given any real meaning, it might be done through another type of people power: not so much in asphalt or concrete streets but perhaps more so in the routes, channels, connectivities and hubs of the worldwide web. This way, the people can hold representatives accountable and loosen oligarchic control. Since "people and government are correlated and complementary" and "a stupid government is an anomaly among a righteous people", we the people can use modern tools like facebook, twitter, text, phone cameras, etc. to expose the corrupt. And lets make sure our military is with us, involved from the beginning; after all, being part of and coming from us, "(their) goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory" based on the principle that "(s)overeignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them". -- By Edwin Bael on

WILL SOMETHING GOOD HAPPEN OUT OF THESE?: ...even the supposedly lily white Aquino administration seems to be vacillating about going after the crooks. P-Noy himself bewailed media's supposedly sensational coverage of the whistleblowers' stories. It would have been more natural for P-Noy to encourage media to keep the temperature up so that it will be more difficult to eventually forget the sordid mess as is usual. Even in the case of going after the Ombudsman, someone P-Noy himself called the single biggest obstacle in his drive for the "matuwid na landas", Malacanang seems to have cooled down its position. Malacanang's spokesman gave a half-hearted statement of support for the impeachment but only after the congressional effort gained ground. And he quickly emphasized that their priority was going after the prosecutors behind the compromise agreement with General Garcia. They seem to be afraid of Merci. Malacanang's tepid support for the impeachment case has led to rumors circulating in the grapevine that the change of heart was the result of a dossier on a senior official that the Ombudsman supposedly made known it possesses. That's sheer speculation but if only the Palace was as proactive in going after the Ombudsman as it was during the early days after P-Noys inauguration, there would have been no reason to believe the rumor. But wait the congressional investigations have also revealed a serious mess at the Commission on Audit, the constitutional body supposed to protect the public purse from the shenanigans disguised as public servants. It was disgusting to hear present and past Chairs of the COA plead inability to control the organization because it has so many employees. Such public confession of incompetence should have been followed by Malacanang with bold action to correct the problem. Now that the COA chair offered to leave once his replacement is named, P-Noy should just appoint whistleblower Heidi Mendoza who appeared to be more than qualified with the academic training and experience necessary for the job plus the patriotism to boot. -- Boo Chanco in The Philippine Star

THE ELUSIVE TRUTH: IN response to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) inquiry on the $5-million reimbursement check released to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the United Nations (UN) has denied releasing such a payment. The inquiry was requested by the House of Representatives to the DFA, following the revelations made by former government auditor Heidi Mendoza, who testified that an AFP officer allegedly made a trip to the UN headquarters in New York City in January 2001 to personally pick up the $5-million check. The check was never recorded in the AFP books of accounts. However, Mendoza did not identify the officer in question, nor the source. On February 9, DFA Assistant Secretary Lesli Gatan made an appearance before the defense committee, stating that the act of an AFP officer picking up a check from the UN was not possible because between 1999-2002, the UN coursed its reimbursements through the Philippine mission in New York. After the checks were received, they were deposited in a Land Bank account with JP Morgan Chase Bank, Gatan said. In 2003, checks were deposited in the military's account with United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), upon arrangements made by the AFP. An earlier testimony given by Land Bank President Gilda Pico to the justice committee tallied with Gatan's statement. Pico has also denied Mendoza's claim about intermediary accounts with the Land Bank branches in General Santos and Iloilo City, saying that no such accounts existed. Why would Heidi Mendoza stake her life and her family's safety if the check and the intermediary accounts were non-existent? But then again, why would the UN deny the occurrence of such a transaction if it did happen? Was it a case of misinformation from Mendoza's source? A significant error in the books... -- Asian Journal Editorial

HOSANNA TO GRAFT: The past several days have seen momentum building up that could finally realize the public's longing for clean government. Its a longing that has been capitalized on by the Aquino administration, which has styled itself as the complete opposite of its predecessor, pledging even to prosecute the grafters of the past and making them pay...But rather than sustain the momentum and finally take the bull by the horns, the Aquino administration and its coalition in the House have gone on as before, hemming and hawing, reluctant to apply the pressure...But in another instance of rhetorical flourish, President Benigno Aquino III, in his address over the weekend at the Philippine Military Academy, called for the prosecution of the special prosecutors involved in Garcia's plea-bargain. The President portrayed the PMA alumni as "victims" of the corruption in the military who are as serious as the government in ferreting out the truth so "you can clean whatever dirt there is among your ranks." He added: "We will study how charges can be filed against not only against those named in the cases but also their cohorts, including the prosecutors involved in the Garcia plea bargain."...The tack is either a deft political trick or a legal maneuver that's going nowhere. At the very least, it does not impress the public about the administration's resolve to go after grafters and corrupters. It merely impresses upon them that the administration is paying lip service to its own pledge to foster clean government with a determined campaign to go after all those who have sullied it. And by paying lip service to its own promise, the administration is singing hosannas to the same people it has vowed to go after. It is singing a song whose tired refrain exalts the perpetuation of corruption.

LEARNING FROM EDSA 1: The root cause of the downfall of the dictatorship was corruption in the government and election anomalies. The practices of kickbacks, overpricing, bribery, and profligate spending on "white elephants" were so massive that popular indignation reached a breaking point. However, months after EDSA I, the late Cardinal Sin lamented: "We have driven out Ali Baba and his 40 thieves. Now we have a new Ali Baba and 40 thieves." The outspoken prelate was saying: Have we merely changed the corrupt officials running the government with a new set of corrupt ones? After 25 years, has corruption in the government been eradicated or at least minimized? From the reports of massive corrupt practices today, particularly in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it is obvious that what the people had been fighting for then still remains. -- FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD in Manila Bulletin

HONOR: ...judging from the revelations in recent congressional hearings, some generals and other officers cannot even make the sacrifice of living on their legal salaries. They have thrown the three wordscourage (moral), integrity and loyalty (to the people)to the winds. Instead, they have made wealth, luxury and self the governing words in their lives. Some have forgotten the essence of the PMA Code of Honor. Some people, legislators among them, have called for the abolition of the PMA in the wake of the disgrace brought upon the academy by some generals who have allegedly enriched themselves at public expense. But we do not think it is the fault of the academy. The fault may lie in the officers, in the military system itself and in bureaucratic procedures and practices that make corruption possible. The reform will have to begin from the very top. For instance, the President should not have the power to order the disbursement of huge amounts of money to key generals to ensure their loyalty to him or her. The AFP should build a strong system of accountability to make sure that every peso allocated to it is spent for the very purpose for which it was budgeted. And other safeguards should be introduced to ensure that everyone keeps to the straight and narrow path. -- Editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer

NO HERO: I SYMPATHIZE with the family of the late former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes but, I am sorry to say, I cannot agree with some of his friends who are saying he was a hero and died with honor. I am disturbed by these statements because I cannot see how someone who allegedly received a P50-million "pabaon" (send-off money) and a monthly "allowance" of P5 million can be considered a hero and a man of honor. Assuming that he didn't receive those amounts, he still chose to remain silent amid all the graft and corruption happening in the military. Perhaps he is being called a hero by some of his peers who got a respite from the congressional investigations because of his death. If Reyes was truly a man of honor and courage, he would have followed the dictates of his conscience, chosen the righteous path and revealed everything he knew about the scandals that happened during the Arroyo administration even if it meant going to jail with other government leaders who took part in defrauding our government. The real heroes for me are the ordinary soldiers who continue to offer their lives for our country, despite the lack of supplies and equipment that the insatiable greed of some of their leaders cause. -- HARVEY S. KEH, lead convenor, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership,

P-NOY GOES BOLD AT PMA: President Benigno Aquino III finally broke his silence on the current investigation of widespread anomalies in the AFP. Yes, Mr. President, there's more than sufficient evidence to charge these military officers named in the Senate and House hearings, including the mind boggling wealth of Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot of P740 million in cash plus houses in the United States and the P303 million of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia including a luxury condominium at the plush Trump Towers at Park Avenue, New York City. It is doubly significant that the President made his bold announcement right at the Philippine Military Academy where all the officers named in the hearings graduated from. Charge them all, Mr. President including the cohorts, meaning all those who participated in releasing and delivering the conversion money to top Generals. It is elementary that no comptroller can amass hundreds of millions without the cooperation of the Chief of Staff, the Secretary of National Defense and the Office of the President. President Aquino should look into the double billing and ghost repairs of C-130 aircraft at Clark involving hundreds of millions. - Ernesto M. Maceda in Philippine Star

NO RECORDS: One of the most important revelations of auditor Heidi Mendoza is the poor records of the AFP. She even called it one big mess. Add to that her finding that some AFP funds deposited in private banks are not carried in the books of the AFP. She discovered that P50 million deposited in Land Bank supposed to be covered by a passbook turned out to be non-existent and the passbook fake. You can be sure that the poor record keeping is done precisely to cover up misuse of funds. This is true in the Bureau of Customs where entry documents are destroyed after the shipment goes out of the Customs zone. There are also poor records keeping at DPWH, DepEd, DA, DOTC and other departments. LTO is one of the worst. Also try to get the records of the Road Board. They are missing. Sometimes they even burn the building. The first order of reform in the anti corruption campaign - is improve the records keeping in government which should be easier now with the advent of computers and internet systems. Otherwise, it will be quite difficult to establish evidence of corruption. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in The Philippine Star

May House continue impeachment now?

As shown in the past, the Senate or the Congress, or the government itself for that matter, has not been consistent in sustaining an investigation "in aid of legislation." Officials who started an investigation would soon abandon it when it is too hot to pursue it or when there is a new interest that catches their attention. That's why we are going back and forth in our quest for clean governance because those who are tasked to clean the bureaucracy are themselves inconsistent, or even corrupt. They are elated that an investigation of corruption is not about them, but when their own action is questioned they are not willing to face it. -- Alexander Lim in Bohol Standard

MORE PORK: Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez has filed House Bill 4069 allocating P60 million more in pork barrel funds for each congressman and P200 million for each senator. The additional perks would come from revenues of the Motor Vehicle Users Charge. This unconscionable act comes at a time when the ordinary citizen is reeling from the rising cost of food, fuel, electricity, fares on the LRT and MRT, bus, jeepney and taxi. But the question often asked by taxpayers is: Where does the money collected from the Road Users Tax go when our roads are still substandard, filled with potholes, unlighted in many areas and without railings to prevent provincial buses from plunging into ravines? Now we know where it's going to the pork barrel of our congressmen and senators. -- Alejandro del Rosario in Manila Standard

WHO'S GOING TO AUDIT THE AUDITORS?: Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya is pushing for a lifestyle check on auditors of the Commission on Audit, especially those assigned to government offices and agencies...COA allowed an auditor to be detailed to the AFP budget office for 13 years. The auditor, Divina Cabrera, was accused by whistleblower retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, former budget officer of the military, of taking bribes. Rabusa, in his testimony, claimed that Cabrera not only got one percent in every transaction of fund conversion but demanded an additional one percent for looking the other way when the amount involved was huge...But Cabrera is not at the top spot as far as being detailed to a government office is concerned. There was the case of the COA auditor assigned to the Philippine Center in New York since it opened in 1975 until he died in office in 2009. Thats 34 years! -- Alejandro del Rosario in Manila Standard


BETTER AUDITING: ...It would take more than a leadership change, however, to improve the performance of the commission. While the COA has uncovered anomalies in the past and promoted the judicious use of public funds in certain government agencies, the congressional inquiry into corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines is showing that more must be done. "Conversions" of huge amounts earmarked for the AFP and their diversion to private bank accounts could have been prevented or at least minimized if the resident auditor had done her job. The public is wondering why she was allowed to stay at Camp Aguinaldo for more than a decade before being transferred to another military assignment, the Philippine Navy. Ensuring the regular rotation of all its resident auditors is just one of the measures that must be implemented at the COA in the wake of the congressional investigation. The commission must also work with Congress and concerned executive agencies to make it easier for auditors to perform their duty. Corrupt officials will always try to find a way of skirting auditing rules. Improving systems and procedures to promote transparency and deter corruption must be among the results of the ongoing congressional investigation. The COA is ripe for a housecleaning, but this must be complemented by reforms in other agencies of government. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

TAN's Letter to the Editor on Appointments

Letter to the Editor

On 15 February 2011, the President (through presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda) underscored the importance of appointing a person with integrity and a clean track record as chairman of the Commission on Audit (COA). We could not agree more. However, the person being appointed is as important as the process by which he or she was appointed.

Recent revelations by former COA auditor and expert witness in the Garcia trial, Heidi Mendoza, has highlighted the need for reforms in the supreme audit institution. As President Aquino knows, reforms start from the very top. Ever since the retirement of Aniano Desierto as Ombudsman in 2002, the Transparency and Accountability Network has pushed for open and transparent appointment processes to the independent accountability institutions such as the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court, the Commission on Elections, the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Audit. Good appointments should happen by design, not by accident. The only way this can happen is if the process is transparent and accountable.   We urge President Aquino, in the name of good governance, transparency and accountability to conduct the search for the next chairman of the Commission on Audit and two commissioners for the Comelec in an open and inclusive process. 

Specifically, for appointments to these and other independent accountability institutions, we urge the President to make known to the public the composition of any internal search committee that screens candidates, the set of criteria being used to evaluate candidates, and the names of the individuals or groups endorsing such candidates.

One of the biggest problems of the previous administration was the highly politicized nature of appointments made to these independent accountability institutions. President Arroyo’s last high profile appointment made in the waning days of her term was arguably the most controversial: the midnight appointment of the chief justice of the Supreme Court during an appointment ban. Without transparency and accountability in the process, President Aquino may be headed down the same treacherous path as his predecessor.

We hope that this time the public will get what it rightfully deserves – men and women of integrity and competence appointed in an open and accountable process.

Vincent T. Lazatin
Executive Director
Transparency and Accountability Network





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