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

NEWS - March 8 - 14

Pinoy Solutions to Corruption
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AQUINO IN SINGAPORE VOWS TO POTENTIAL INVESTORS TO CURB CORRUPTION: Speaking before some 200 members of the Singapore Business Forum/International Enterprise Eminent Leaders on the last day of his three-day state visit here, Aquino vowed to curb corruption in a bid to create a pro-business environment in the Philippines, adding that the overall climate in the country "is now more conducive to business and investments" under his leadership. In the past few years, corruptionalong with problems with transparency - efficiency and bureaucracy are keeping foreign companies from investing in the Philippines. According to the 2010 Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, the Philippines is rated as "highly corrupt" and is ranked 134th most corrupt country out of 178 countries. In his speech, Aquino said the Philippines has embarked on "redesigning the building of state" by "redesigning the culture of governance, alleviating poverty by curbing corruption; by instituting reforms in the military, where faulty procurement practices have robbed our soldiers of decent equipment and dignified living standards; in the judiciary, where Lady Justice's scales have tipped toward the privileged few; and all across the bureaucracy, where a lack of integrity and competence has been the norm, rather than the exception." Other reforms his administration will implement, the President said, include: >>>- addressing the challenges rooted upon a lack of infrastructure that will make the Philippines a more attractive investment destination by pursuing greater cooperation with the private sector through the PPP scheme >>>- cutting red tape >>>- ensuring the proper and responsible use of government resources

CLICK HERE TO READ entire Speech of President Aquino at the Singapore Business Forum, March 11, 2011

SEPARATE OMBUDSMAN FUNCTIONS?: Ombudsman Gutierrez...debunked accusations her office is delaying the resolution of cases. The Office of the Ombudsman receives 40 cases per day or 10,000 per year. There are about 300 investigators and 200 prosecutors working under the Ombudsman. Batangas 2nd District Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, who said there is a need to separate the prosecution powers from the Office of the Ombudsman. Gutierrez said in other countries, there is an entity separate from the Ombudsman that investigates and prosecutes cases. In the Philippines, the office has 5 functions: investigation, prosecution, anti-corruption initiatives, promotion and administrative adjudication. "If there's a need to separate [the functions], then the House should study the options. But for now, that's what we are doing," she added.

SOLON: REMOVE "GHOST EMPLOYEES" FROM ARMED FORCES BY REGISTERING ALL SOLDIERS WITH COMELEC >>> Representative Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City south district wants soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be registered with the Commission on Election to eradicate "ghost employees" in the AFP. The so-called ghost employees are those that receive salary, but never report to work. Mandating all soldiers to register with the Comelec would reportedly make it easier to monitor the ranks, Osmeña said. Many soldiers reportedly are not registered voters. Osmeña, vice-chairman of the House appropriations body for the military, said the government has been trying to rid its payroll of non-existent soldiers and his proposal is very timely considering the ongoing probe into the alleged corruption in the military. He, however, did not specify the amount the government lost to ghost employees, but said there have been 20,000 ghost employees in the payroll. He said he already informed Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes of his proposal. Aside from mandatory registration, Osmeña said the soldiers must also be required to enroll in the biometric system so that their fingerprints can be registered therein. He also wants the salary of all soldiers released through the ATM.

AKBAYAN SERVES OMBUDSMAN EVICTION NOTICE: The Akbayan party-list group on Monday served a notice of eviction to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and demanded that she immediately vacate her post for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution. In a protest action held in front of the Office of the Ombudsman, the group brought outsized eviction notices, which they posted at the anti-graft office's main gate to register the peoples loss of confidence to Gutierrez. We are serving this notice of eviction to Gutierrez because she does not enjoy the public's trust to continue staying as the countrys ombudsman," said former Akbayan party-list representative and impeachment complainant Risa Hontiveros. "Public trust is the basic ingredient in occupying any public office. With that element petered out, the position becomes ineffective in carrying out its tasks and functions," she added. Hontiveros said Gutierrez has no other recourse but to resign or be impeached.

OMBUDSMAN FACES SIX IMPEACHMENT CHARGES: >>> (1) the Office of the Ombudsman has performed dismally as shown by the low conviction rate achieved by the office; >>>(2) the unreasonable failure to take prompt and immediate action on complaints filed against various public officials, including former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and (husband) Jose Miguel Arroyo regarding the NBN-ZTE broadband project; >>>(3) the inexcusable delay of the Ombudsman in conducting and concluding its investigation into the wrongful death of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño aboard a Philippine navy vessel; >>>(4) inaction in the matter of the Fertilizer Fund Scam; >>>(5) inaction in the matter of the Mega Pacific deal; and >>>(6) inaction in the matter of the "Euro Generals" issue

HOUSE PLENARY VOTE ON IMPEACHMENT TO BE QUICK: The plenary voting on the articles of impeachment against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez would be relatively quick, as the lengthy and often grandstanding explanations of lawmakers of their votes would be set for another time, a House leader said yesterday. This developed as the initial draft of the articles of impeachment came out yesterday which some members of the House committee on justice described as "tight" and "strong" enough to convict Gutierrez in the event she undergoes trial in the Senate. Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, senior vice chairman of the justice committee, said that unlike in the past, the voting would be relatively swift since under the new rules, lawmakers would first cast their votes. After the votes have been counted and the results have been announced, another session would be held to allow congressmen who want to explain their votes to take the floor.

CIVIL SERVICE CHAIRMAN CONDUCTS SPOT INSPECTION: THE chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) found out after a spot inspection that several regional government agencies are violating the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007. CSC Chairman Francisco Duque III scolded several government agencies for also violating the Citizens Charter. The Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 is geared at improving efficiency in the delivery of government service to the public by reducing bureaucratic red tape, preventing graft and corruption, and providing penalties.

HEIDI MENDOZA MULLS OVER COA JOB: Whistleblower Heidi Mendoza is still reflecting on the news that President Benigno Aquino III would offer her a ranking post at the Commission on Audit, according to her media liason, Fr. Bert Alejo. According to Alejo, Mendoza has not yet received any formal communication from the Office of the President. "She only heard it in the news," Alejo said. "Let us give Heidi time to reflect," he said. Mendoza, in a letter to the Inquirer, clarified news reports that she wanted to head the COA. According to her, she did not seek the chairmanship of the agency. "When I was asked if 'tatangapin mo ba ang chairmanship of COA (would you accept the chairmanship) if offered by the President,' I replied that I am still praying for it - meaning, if God wanted me to return to government service or to stay as a private citizen passionately involved in various initiatives toward good government," she said. News reports had said Mendoza was praying that she would be appointed COA chair.

SENATORS TOE PRESIDENT'S LINE, FIND OMBUDSMAN GUILTY: Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III yesterday publicized a "partial" panel report that found Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez guilty of non-feasance over her approval of the plea bargain agreement between the prosecutors and former military comptroller discharged Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, even telling the House justice committee to include this in its articles of impeachment. It was seen by many as yet another attempt on the part of the Liberal Party senators to pressure the Ombudsman to resign instead of undergoing an impeachment trial while others saw it as a blatant prejudgment on the part of the LP senators who are to be the judges in the trial. But senators distanced themselves from the Guingona report that called on the House to impeach the Ombudsman for lacking not only diligence but also for her "sloth and ignorance" of the Rules of Court. At least nine of those who affixed their signatures in the yet to be filed panel report either expressed reservations or noted that they would not be associated in calling for the impeachment of Gutierrez, knowing full well that it could place them in a compromising situation since part of their constitutional mandate is to act as judges in an impeachment trial proceedings.

PAPERS ON GRAFT CASES VS EX-PCGG OFFICIALS MISSING: Important documents pertaining to the graft and corruption cases against the past officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has gone missing, a partial report on the first 100 days of the new officers said. The 44-page report, submitted to President Aquino, contains alleged abuses by the former officials of the agency in relation to massive travel expenses amounting to millions, as well as compounded utility bills on electricity and water. But what officials raised their eyebrows at, was that several important documents and evidence pertaining to cases filed against the officials of the agency have gone missing..."Verbal reports were made to the present commission that toward the end of the term of former PCGG Chairman Sabio, the files of all administrative and/or criminal cases were pulled out from the Legal Department and transferred to the Office of the Chairman. However, these files appear to be missing at present," the report said.

EX-OMBUDSMAN TO SOLONS: PROCEED WITH CAUTION >>> The anti-graft agency's contentious plea bargain deal with ex-military comptroller retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia could serve as additional ammunition to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, her predecessor Simeon Marcelo said. But there are risks. "There is a possibility that it could be included, but it should be studied carefully," he told Newsbreak. For one, Marcelo said that Gutierrez may ask the Supreme Court to stop the impeachment proceedings, once it has commenced, because the plea bargain deal was not originally included in the two complaints.

SENATOR: BLUE RIBBON REPORT ON GUTIERREZ NOIT VALID >>> The Senate Blue Ribbon committee report on the alleged culpability of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and her prosecutors for betrayal of public trust cannot be elevated to the plenary because most of those who signed it did so "with reservations," according to Sen. Joker Arroyo. "Unless a majority vote in the committee is reached on the impeachment aspect, that matter cannot be submitted for plenary consideration and approval," Arroyo said. The report said Gutierrez and the special prosecutors "betrayed the public trust in entering into the plea bargaining agreement with Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia." Arroyo said the partial report, signed by 17 senators, does not have the "unqualified vote of the majority of nine senators." Arroyo pointed out that nine signatories have expressed reservations, particularly on the issue of filing another impeachment case against Gutierrez.

OMBUDSMAN ACCUSED OF BUNGLING CHINGKOE CASE: The Office of the Ombudsman, under embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, bungled the Chingkoe plunder case, according to former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio. The prosecution panel handling the multibillion-peso plunder case failed to give it the proper attention, claimed Villa-Ignacio, who initially handled the Chingkoe case before he retired in 2010. "That Chingkoe [case] has been going on for too long. It involves a big amount. Nothing happened there because the prosecution did not focus on it," said the retired prosecutor who was famously at odds with Gutierrez when he was still at the Ombudsman's Office.

PALACE STARYS ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS VS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Malacañang initiated administrative proceedings against Special Prosecutor Wendell Barras-Sulit of the Office of the Ombudsman and asked her to explain why she should not be sanctioned for entering into a questionable plea bargaining agreement with retired military comptroller Carlos Garcia. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. issued the show-cause order directing Sulit to submit to his office an explanation, within five days from the time she received the order, on why administrative disciplinary proceedings should not be pursued against her. Ochoa said the initiation of administrative proceedings was based on the recommendations of the House of Representatives' justice committee, which looked into the plea bargain deal with Garcia. He likewise said that the Office of the President referred to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) the House committee on justice Resolution No. 3, which also recommended the filing of appropriate charges against Deputy Special Prosecutors Roberto Kallos and Jesus Micael; and Assistant Special Prosecutors Jose Balmeo Jr. and Joseph Capistrano.

IMPEACHMENT TRIAL TO BE TEST OF LEADERSHIP: Efforts to unseat Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez might turn out to be test of sorts for President Benigno Aquino III himself. Two senators on Saturday said the President could not afford to fail in his campaign against Gutierrez, considering that he has already made public his position that she should at least be brought to an impeachment trial. "It would be embarrassing for the President if the Ombudsman would be acquitted by the Senate, despite his support for her impeachment," said one senator, who is a known supporter of Malacañang. Another senator told the Inquirer: "The price to pay is too high for an acquittal. It would diminish his political capital."

SENATOR DRAFTING BILL TO CURB AFP CORRUPTION: Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada said he is currently crafting a law that will put a stop to the massive theft of government funds in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. ..."I am crafting a law to systematize the budget cycle of the AFP patterned after the Pentagon in the United States," he said, adding that the counterpart of the Pentagon in the Philippines is the Department of National Defense. Under his proposed law bill, funds from national government will be forwarded to DND to be handled by the secretary national defense, the AFP will have to request for funds from the DND, Estrada said.

TRADERS CHARGE CUSTOMS OFFICIALS WITH EXTORSION: Two importers filed a criminal and administrative complaint against four Bureau of Customs officials before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas for alleged extortion. Business partners Paul D. Go and Ingayo Dee G. Villanueva accused Collector Julius Premediles, Special Agent 1 Franz Muñoz, Capt. Danielo Gonzales and Customs Operations Officer Ciriaco Ugay of subjecting to rigid questioning some importers who refuse to pay their "tong," the rate of which varies. They also allegedly facilitated the release of cargoes of favored smugglers. The two men also complained about the conflicting job assignments of the officials, which they said is detrimental to government interest.

HOUSE LEADER: IMPEACHMENT RAPS VS OMBUDSMAN WEAK: A House leader believes that the complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez are weak prompting the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to propose the inclusion of the Garcia plea bargain deal in the impeachment raps against her. "It is a virtual admission that the present complaints are weak and could not legally prosper so much so that there is need to supplement the pending complaints or file a new one," Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said

GARCIAS, LIGOTS IN P948m TAX EVASION RAPS: Three tax evasion complaints totaling to P948 million were filed yesterday by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against former military comptrollers Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jacinto Ligot and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Carlos Garcia and their wives, and Edgardo Yambao, Ligot's brother-in-law. BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the move was spurred by findings in investigations conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee into alleged corruption in the Armed Forces. The filing of the complaints at the justice department came after President Aquino reiterated his instruction for government prosecutors to employ the "Al Capone" method in pursuing the plunder case against Garcia to ensure that the former military official is punished for his crimes

OMBUDSMAN: DON'T HIT ME TO GET TO ARROYO >>> Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Friday said detractors should not lash out against her just to get revenge on former President and now congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. "Former President Arroyo had so many appointees including justices at the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and Supreme Court." she said...Gutierrez, a law school classmate of the former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, also denied protecting the Arroyos especially since no case has yet to be filed in her office against the former First Couple... The Ombudsman said she inhibited herself from a panel investigation on the alleged involvement of the Arroyos in the scuttled $329 million broadband network contract between the Philippine government and China's ZTE Corp.

MENDOZA TO BE COA COMMISIONER BUT NOT CHAIR: President Aquino said he will offer Heidi Mendoza the post of commissioner of the Commission on Audit (COA). Aquino said the next COA chair should be a lawyer as mandated by law. Aquino has not yet talked to Mendoza to formally offer the job. "Pag balik nya, palagay ko, as a minimum, she will be a COA Commissioner. If she becomes a commissioner, then the COA chair has to be a lawyer as mandated by law," Aquino told reporters.

AQUINO ASSURES HEIDI MENDOZA OF COA SEAT: President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday night said whistleblower Heidi Mendoza was assured of a ranking position at the Commission on Audit (COA). In an interview with reporters, Aquino said he would have to talk to Mendoza first because she had told him that she would have to consult her family before making any decision to return to government service. "I think as a minimum, she will be a COA commissioner...Mendoza said that she was "praying" that she would be appointed head of COA.

LAW EXPERT: GUTIERREZ IMPEACHMENT INEVITABLE: A law expert said Thursday that the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is inevitable largely due to the movements of proceedings in the Congress and the latest recommendation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to have the Ombudsman be subjected to an impeachment process...He warned that the problem at hand is not the impeachment proceedings per se since this is almost inevitable. His concern lies on the flow of other cases pending in the Ombudsman since its head, Gutierrez, will be busy defending herself before Congress and the impeachment court in the Senate...Fourteen senators signed the resolution, with 9 of them signing with reservations on the "impeachment clause" in particular. They were wary of being judged as biased since the senators will be acting as judges if the impeachment process in the House of Representatives reaches the Senate. University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, president of the Philippine Association of Law Schools, said one deciding factor is that Gutierrez is set to retire next year...He said at least two thirds or roughly 16 of the 24 senators are needed to convict Gutierrez and since senators are politicians, they will be extra careful in appreciating evidence to avoid being branded as either weak, inept, or ineffective...

PALACE TO ISSUE SHOW CAUSE ORDER VS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda confirmed on Thursday that the Palace has received a copy of the House justice committee's report on the Office of the Ombudsman... Larcierda said the Palace will issue a show-cause order to Special Prosecutor Wendel Sulit. The House Justice Committee recommended that Sulit face administrative raps over the Garcia plea bargain deal. Lacierda clarified that the Office of the President's jurisdiction is limited only to prosecutors...Lacierda said show-cause orders will also be issued against the special prosecutors who will be cited in the Senate report. He said the special prosecutors involved will be given due process. Penalties range from a simple warning to outright dismissal.

RIZAL PARK HOSTAGE TAKER "LOST HOPE" - OMBUDSMAN SAT ON HIS CASE FOR 9 MONTHS: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should also be made to answer for the August 2010 hostage-taking at Rizal Park that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead, according to President Benigno Aquino III. Speaking with reporters on Wednesday night, Mr. Aquino said the hostage-taker, the late former Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza, had "lost hope" and held the tourists hostage because even after "nine months," the Office of the Ombudsman had not acted on his appeal that the order dismissing him from service be rescinded. Mr. Aquino said he had summoned the prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman to explain the matter but that they told him it was Gutierrez who had jurisdiction over the case. But the President stressed that it was Congress that should decide whether Gutierrez should be impeached. "What we are saying is that we've been asking for a long time why there are cases [in the Office of the Ombudsman] that have not been acted upon," he said, adding: "We will use the powers given by law to make accountable not just the Ombudsman but also everyone who should answer for their shortcomings."

OMBUDSMAN: SANDIGANBAYAN SOLE ARBITER OF PLEA BARGAIN DEAL >>> Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez said that the Sandiganbayan is the sole arbiter on the plea bargaining agreement (PBA) entered into by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) with former Armed Forces Comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia. Gutierrez made the remark in answer to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report seeking to junk the PBA and file criminal charges against the OMB special prosecutors who drafted the PBA... The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee also recommended the impeachment of Gutierrez for "betrayal of public trust through breach of official duty" over the PBA.

SOLONS EYE NEW WEAPON VS OMBUDSMAN: Congressmen pursuing the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez have found a new weapon they can use against her in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the plea bargain agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. Justice committee chairman Niel Tupas Jr. has convened a legal team studying the possible inclusion of the plea bargain deal in the impeachment case. The inclusion was the principal recommendation of the justice panel after it terminated its parallel investigation into the deal in early February. Tupas said on Thursday the deal may be included under the charge for low conviction rate and entering into plea bargain deals from 2008 to 2010 - one of the 6 charges for the impeachable offense of betrayal of public trust. "There is an allegation of low conviction rate and incompetence when we reviewed the pleading of the first complaint. It alleges entering into plea bargain agreements from 2008 to 2010. The first complaint was filed July 2010. That's why we convened a legal team to look into this matter. We might use the Garcia plea bargain agreement to prove the allegation," he said.

OMBUDSMAN REJECTS RESIGN CALLS: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Thursday said she feels bullied by sectors who are calling for her impeachment or resignation without giving her a chance to defend herself. Asked how she feels about mounting calls for her impeachment or resignation, she said: "Bullying me? Yes. I feel that way. I have that feeling. Eh wala pa ngang plenary sa House e meron na kaagad conclusion at meron nang nagsasabi na magresign." She appealed to lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate to be fair to her unlike others who have already made up their minds.

SENATE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS IMPEACHMENT OF OMBUDSMAN PLUS FIRING AND ADMINISTRATIVE AND CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST 5 PROSECUTORS: The Senate blue ribbon committee has recommended the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and the removal from office of five state prosecutors for allegedly bungling the plunder case against former military comptroller Carlos Garcia...14 senators signed the committee report...the Ombudsman, Senator Guingona said, has another alternative and that would be to voluntarily step down from office... "Please spare the country of this conflict. Please resign," he further said. Aside from impeaching the Ombudsman, Guingona said the committee also recommended the removal from office of the following: special prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit, deputy special prosecutor Robert Callos, acting deputy special prosecutor Jesus Micael, assistant prosecutor Jose Balmeo Jr., and assistant special prosecutor Joseph Capistrano. The committee specifically recommended the filing of administrative and criminal cases against these prosecutors.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS WANT CRACKDOWN ON GRAFT: Accountability should start during Lent >>> The influential Catholic Church called for environment protection and the prosecution of corrupt government officials, adding that accountability must be exercised at the start of Lent, a 40-day Christian tradition marking the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which started yesterday. "Lent gives our leaders if they have all but belittled the sovereign people who elected themtime to remember that they are ultimately accountable to a greater sovereign in their use of power," a Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) statement posted on its website said. "Government mechanisms of checks and balances should be allowed to work. One instance is in Congress' impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez," the CBCP said, adding the executive branch should prosecute "officers and cohorts involved in robbing the men and women of our armed forces." Short of calling for errijng government officials to confess and repent, CBCP said that corrupt officials must be reminded, during Lent, of "the existence of an unseen higher power to which mortals are accountable."

OMBUDSMAN EYES MALVERSATION CASE VS AQUINO ALLY: The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of malversation charges against former Isabela Gov. Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca, an official of President Aquino's Liberal Party, and three other officials. The case stemmed from a 2007 complaint filed by former Isabela Rep. Santiago Respicio, who said the provincial government, under Padaca, committed technical malversation when it released a P25-million loan to a private foundation.

GUTIERREZ HAS EDGE IN SENATE: With the House of Representatives almost certain to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, all eyes are now on the Senate which will hear the charges against her. The Constitution says a two-thirds vote of all senators is needed to convict and unseat a constitutional official like Gutierrez. This could be either 15 votes based on 23 sitting senators, or 16 votes based on 24 Senate seats. But whether 15 or 16, it's a tall order for the Aquino administration and other critics of the Ombudsman.

ACQUINO: "DO AN AL CAPONE" ON GARCIA >>> Do an "Al Capone" on him. That is what President Benigno Aquino III said prosecutors should do to ensure that retired Major General Carlos Garcia, the disgraced former Armed Forces comptroller accused of plunder, ends up in jail even if it is just for tax evasion. "I don't care if it is because of what he plundered or the taxes he did not pay. I actually used the phrase... use the Al Capone solution. The message has to be clear," Mr. Aquino said. "Al Capone was a murderer, extortionist, etc. but he was jailed because he evaded paying his taxes. That's true. That's in history," he added.

GARCIAS ASK DOJ TO REVERSE TAX EVASION RULING: Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Carlos Garcia and his wife, Clarita, are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reverse a review resolution that recommended the filing of charges against them for tax evasion in violation of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997. The Garcias have a pending motion for reconsideration before the DOJ that challenges the review resolution's finding of probable cause against them. The couple, who face plunder charges at the Sandiganbayan, were found to have under declared their income of P12.25 million for 2002 and P14.109 million for 2003. However, the Garcias told the DOJ that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), in wanting "to prove the existence of 'income' from documents obtained from his pending criminal case of plunder," is taking a baseless position. "In short, complainant posits that the funds which were 'supposedly plundered' constitutes 'income' which is subject to tax," Garcia's opposition read.

NEXT HOUSE TARGET: SUPREME COURT JUSTICE >>> The House committee on justice has set a hearing on the impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, a senior congressman disclosed yesterday. Del Castillo was accused of plagiarism by 10 lawmakers and a group of "comfort women" or sex slaves of Japanese soldiers during World War II. Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, vice chairman of the justice committee, said the panel would schedule in its next hearing the impeachment complaint filed last Dec. 14 by six "comfort women" against Del Castillo for betrayal of public trust when he allegedly committed plagiarism in writing the High Court's decision on the victims' case.

SENATE COMMITTEE WANTS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR FIRED: The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is recommending the filing of charges against Special State Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit for betrayal of public trust in connection with the plea bargaining agreement forged with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. The Blue Ribbon's recommendation is aimed at Sulit's ouster as special prosecutor, since betrayal of public trust is a serious offense. "The Office of the Special Prosecutor betrayed public trust by entering into the Garcia plea bargaining agreement. There was betrayal of public trust through breach of official duty," a portion of the draft of the Blue Ribbon committee's findings declared. The 65-page report also recommended that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez be "held accountable for non-feasance." "Whether or not the laws that hold the Ombudsman and Office of the Special Prosecutor accountable are sufficient, who will Guard the Guardians?" the report read. Because of Gutierrez's stance, the Blue Ribbon is also recommending for the House of Representatives to submit to the Senate the articles of impeachment against Gutierrez at the soonest time possible. Nine senators have signed the partial report of the Blue Ribbon committee which investigated the questionable agreement and the massive corruption in the military. Blue Ribbon chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III confirmed that he now has a majority of senators who have concurred with the recommendation that Sulit be cited for betrayal of public trust and to have the Ombudsman held accountable for the same.

SENATOR CITES COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS' FAILURE TO CHECK CORRUPT GENERALS: Senator Franklin Drilon wants a review of the rules of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), which he said has apparently failed to thoroughly check the track record of former military officials now accused of corruption. After a hearing on the promotions of 90 military officers on Wednesday, Drilon said he wonders how the likes of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptrollers Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot passed CA deliberations in the past even with their questionable financial records.

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL'S DAILY CORRUPTION NEWS - FROM HONG KONG'S "THE STANDARD": Graft chase corners Arroyo judicial ally >>> Philippine legislators have launched impeachment proceedings against the country's top graft prosecutor over allegations she stood aside as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stole public funds when president. The House of Representatives' justice panel recommended formal proceedings commence to remove Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez from her post for what its chairman, Neil Tupas, looked like a "betrayal of public trust." Representatives will likely vote next week on his committee's recommendation

PALACE INCLINED TO PLACE HEIDI MENDOZA IN COA: The government could use whistle-blower Heidi Mendoza's expertise and integrity as head of the Commission on Audit, Malacañang indicated on Wednesday afternoon. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, however, said the matter of which government post to offer Mendoza has not been firmed up by the administration. "I think we can use her competence in the Commission on Audit. In our government, we have many concerns that needs an auditor with integrity," Lacierda said during the days news briefing in Malacañang. "And we are expecting that with a new leadership in the Commission on Audit, we can put in order our auditing processes and practices in the government," he added. Lacierda said the government would look into Mendoza's preference to return to the COA as its head. He said he would discuss the matter with President Aquino after the chief executive's return to the country from his state visits to Indonesia and Singapore.

SOLON CONVINCE 16 SENATORS IS NEXT JOB: After the justice committee of the House of Representatives found probable cause to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust, the committee's next task would be to make sure that the Senate would convict her based on the "strong and sufficient evidence" it would present during the trial. In a Radyo Inquirer interview Wednesday, Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. said that this would be a "tough job" and the committee was now drafting its report together with the articles of impeachment to be transmitted to the House committee on rules, which will schedule a plenary meeting. Sixteen, the magic number, or three-fourths of the Senate membership is required to convict Gutierrez, according to Barzaga.

DAVAO CITY CUSTOMS COLLECTOR'S TRANSFER CONFIRMED: THE transfer of Davao Port Customs collector Anju Nereo Castigador to Cagayan de Oro City was confirmed by a Davao Customs official on Tuesday. The Customs official, who earlier expressed desire to turn state witness once the Senate inquiry on alleged anomalies at the Bureau of Customs (B0C) operation in Davao City starts, said Castigador was temporarily replaced by Edmundo Magdaraog, chief Customs operations officer of the Davao Port. An emissary of BOC Commissioner Angelito Alvarez also confirmed to Sun.Star Davao that Castigador's transfer was part of his promise to find a solution to problems besetting the Davao BOC office. The emissary, who refused to be named because he is not authorized to give statements to media, said Castigador's transfer is just one step of the process that they hope will institute reforms not just in the Davao office but with the entire agency as well.

SOLON: NO CONCERTED EFFORT TO DESTROY THE SUPREME COURT: Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas assured yesterday the Supreme Court (SC) justices that there is no concerted effort to destroy the court as claimed by SC spokesman Midas Marquez. "There is no such thing. If there is anyone who is destroying the Supreme Court, it is the members themselves,"...Fariñas, senior vice chairman of the House committee on justice, had earlier announced that he is drafting an impeachment complaint against at least eight justices who voted in September 2010 to stop congressmen from proceeding with the impeachment process against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

BIR ANNOUNCES NEW "SALN" FOR FOLKS THAT EARN OVER P500,000: Every private citizen earning at least P500,000 annually will now have to file the equivalent of a statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN)previously required only of public officials. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said the new rule was meant to give regulators "the whole income picture of [an individual] taxpayer" and to help improve collections by clamping down on tax evasion...Beginning with the 2010 tax year - for which the deadline is on April 15 - individual taxpayers, estates and trusts must completely detail to the authorities their passive income, which includes interest income, royalties, dividends, as well as all kinds of prizes and winnings. Income from the sale or exchange of real estate must also be detailed, along with properties received through "gifts, bequests and devises." Finally, individual taxpayers must also disclose to the BIR everything that they receive in the form of fringe benefits, proceeds of life insurance policies, returns on premiums, retirement benefits, pensions, gratuities, stock transactions and all other sources.

PALACE: AQUINO'S "MORAL LEADERSHIP" MADE HOUSE BODY VOTE FOR IMPEACHMENT: Malacañang said President Benigno Aquino III's "moral leadership" helped bring about the House justice committee decision on Tuesday, elevating the impeachment case of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to the House plenary for deliberations and thus, closer to the Senate for trial. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda welcomed not only the House justice committee's finding that there was probable cause to remove Gutierrez from her post for betrayal of public trust but also the Supreme Court's move to junk the appeal of the beleaguered Ombudsman to stop the impeachment proceedings against her in the House justice committee. Lacierda said the high court's denial of Gutierrez' appeal "paves the way for the House and the Senate to conduct the impeachment proceedings as how the Constitution envisions it to be" and "without any fear of being reversed" by the high court.

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL WANTS TO RESTORE POWER TO FREEZE ASSETS: The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) is seeking the restoration of a power to freeze assets to avoid a repeat of the cases of ex-military comptrollers Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot. Garcia and Ligot, both accused of amassing wealth while serving as comptrollers in the Armed Forces, had managed to withdraw huge sums from their bank accounts before these could be frozen...AMLAC used to wield such power before the law was amended...

DE LIMA STANDS BY DOJ PROBERS OF STRADCOM CASE: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday brushed aside claims by Virginia Torres that a panel that recommended the suspension of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief for supporting the takeover of the agency's IT provider by a hostile faction had been biased. "It is lamentable that instead of reacting or responding fairly or professionally to the recent issuance of the report and recommendations on the Stradcom takeover, the LTO official involved and one of the factions involved would rather cast aspersions on the integrity and sense of impartiality or objectivity of the committee," De Lima said.

GOV'T PANEL CLEARS LTO CHIEF IN PAJERO SCAM: Virginia Torres, the chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and shooting range buddy of President Benigno Aquino III, may heave a sigh of relief - at least for now. An interagency task force looking into allegations LTO officials and police personnel were involved in car theft syndicates has cleared Torres of complicity in the alleged fraudulent registration of a Mitsubishi Pajero in 2009 when she was head of the LTO office in Tarlac.

SENATOR WANTS CAAP PROBED FOR CORRUPTION: The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) should be probed amid allegations of corruption within the agency, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said Tuesday. "I think the time has come for the Senate to look into the situation at the CAAP and whether the law creating it needs further refinement or whether those mandated to implement it are just bungling their jobs," Estrada said in a statement...there were reports that a syndicate within the CAAP and the lax implementation of the law by its officials have allowed the proliferation of fake pilot licenses.

SENATE WANTS BANKS TO EXPLAIN FAILURES IN ARMED FORCES PLUNDER CASE: The Senate congressional oversight committee on Anti-Money Laundering Act will summon representatives of seven financial institutions linked to the military plunder mess to explain their failure to report suspected money laundering activities to authorities..."The fact that Garcia was able to withdraw P128 million, and Ligot around P700 million prior to the freezing of the accounts underscores the need for amendments in the AMLA," said Senator Teofisto L. Guingona III, chairman of the oversight committee, during the hearing..."They should know that it is not appropriate to have those kinds of large accounts; they should have reported this as a suspicious transaction," Senator Drilon said.

PALACE: NEXT OMBUDSMAN WILL NOT BE BEHOLDEN TO ACQUINO >>> Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that the next Ombudsman - if ever Congress succeeds in ousting current Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez - will not be beholden to President Benigno Aquino III, the appointing authority. "Yun ang ating pangako. Hindi naman tayo maglalagay ng sariling tao para matulad naman sa dating Ombudsman," said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda at a press briefing Tuesday. (We promise that the next Ombudsman is someone who'll be unlike the current Ombudsman.) He said the next Ombudsman "will prosecute the cases based on the evidence as the Ombudsman sees it." "Walang kaibigan. Makakaasa po kayo na itong magiging Ombudsman ay magiging impartial (There will be no sacred cows. The public can expect an impartial Ombudsman)," Lacierda added

CITY MAYORS WARN SUPREME COURT OF IMPEACHMENT: City mayors on Tuesday issued a virtual ultimatum for the Supreme Court to correct what they called its error in recognizing the status of 16 new cities, hinting at the possibility of filing impeachment cases against the justices. The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) said it would file a motion for reconsideration today asking the high tribunal to reverse its "flip-flop" ruling on the status of the municipalities-turned-cities on Feb. 15 when it overturned what was thought to be its final decision rejecting the cityhood of the 16.

SENATE HAS NO TIME FOR IMPEACHMENT UNTIL MAY: Even if the House of Representatives votes to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez soon, the Senate would likely begin her impeachment trial only in May, given its tight schedule, senators said Tuesday.

OMBUDSMAN: "I'VE DONE NOTHING WRONG, THIS IS PARTISAN POLITICS: Despite a double whammy from the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Tuesday insisted that she had done nothing wrong "What I am fighting for is that I did not violate any law or our Constitution. I did not do anything that is not right [by] the people," Gutierrez told reporters. She also said that she would abide by the Supreme Court ruling, and that she hoped the lawmakers would follow proper processes as well. As for the House justice committee vote finding probable cause for her impeachment, she said she had been expecting it all along. Gutierrez issued a statement later Tuesday, saying that with the high court's ruling, "there is nothing left for me but to face the impeachment complaints." She called on the public to closely study the issues involved, and said the impeachment proceedings illustrated how one's reputation could be destroyed.


HOUSE PANEL OK'S IMPEACHMENT RAPS FOR PLENARY VOTE: The House committee on justice on Tuesday approved the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for plenary vote after its members found probable cause to remove the official from her post. In 39-9-1 vote, the House panel approved a motion by Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III to find the existence of probable cause to impeach Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust. Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., justice committee chairperson, defined "probable cause" as "reasonable grounds to support the well-founded belief that the respondent committed an impeachable offense and should be held for trial."

DEFIANT OMBUDSMAN NO SHOW AT IMPEACHMENT HEARING, LAWYER SAYS MORE THAN 50 CONGRESSMEN HAVE PENDING CASES WITH HER OFFICE: True to her word, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez did not appear before Tuesday's hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice tackling the impeachment complaints against her. Instead, Gutierrez sent a reply to justice panel chairman Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. questioning the form and substance of the subpoena duces tecum asking for several documents from her office. "She cannot produce documents because this would render, according to her, moot and academic the issues raised in the motion for reconsideration with the Supreme Court ," Tupas quoted Gutierrez's letter as saying...Atty. Salvador Panelo, Gutierrez's spokesman, earlier said more than 50 incumbent congressmen have pending cases with the Office of the Ombudsman and 4 of them are members of the House Justice Committee. He said this is one of the reasons why lawmakers are keen on impeaching Gutierrez.

SOLONS WITH GRAFT RAPS NEED NOT INHIBIT IN OMBUDSMAN VOTE: Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said on Tuesday that congressmen with pending graft cases need not inhibit when the House of Representatives votes at the plenary on the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. "This is a political process, when I vote, I vote because I'm the representative of the people... I see no conflict of interest in that," Tupas Jr., chairman of the House justice committee, said in an interview Tuesday on ANC's Headstart. Tupas was commenting on the allegation of Gutierrez' spokesman, Atty. Salvador Panelo, that congressmen want his client impeached because they have pending cases. He said there were at least 50 congressmen facing graft complaints in the Ombudsman. "They want a friendly Ombudsman to be appointed," Panelo alleged. Tupas, whose father, former Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., has a pending graft case in the Office of the Ombudsman, earlier said Gutierrez's office is using his father's case to influence the impeachment proceedings. He claimed that an emissary of Gutierrez went to his office and offered to dismiss his father's case if he would "go slow" on the impeachment complaint. House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas have admitted that they are facing graft complaints in the Ombudsman.

OMBUDSMAN LAMENTS AQUINO RALLIED ALLIES TO IMPEACH HER: Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Tuesday lamented that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has rallied his allies at the House of Representatives to support the bid to impeach her. "I am saddened by the turn of events as the president himself has ordered his allies at the House of Representatives to impeach me," said Gutierrez at a forum in Manila. "It has confirmed our worst fears that the proceedings at the (lower) House has degenerated into a partisan political exercise," she added. Gutierrez made the statement just before the House justice committee was to vote on whether the two impeachment complaints against her should be transmitted to the House of Representatives plenary. Gutierrez on Tuesday remained defiant of the House justice committee that is set to vote on the impeachment complaints against her.

AQUINO ALLIES URGE OCHOA TO EXPLAIN "GLASS MANSION": Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. has come under fire from President Aquino's allies despite insisting he is not the owner of a 2-storey glass and concrete house in a gated subdivision in Quezon City. A group, composed of former senior government officials, wants Ochoa to publicly explain the involvement of his wife, his sisters, and his former law firm partners in the ownership of the house and lot.

OMBUDSMAN CHARGES EX-DAVAO CiTY MAYOR WITH GRAFT: Former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III, is in trouble for using P11.5 million in public funds to throw lavish parties and give away home appliances "in his honor." The P11.5-million "Pahalipay [gratuity] ni Mayor" that Duterte charged against the Special Education Fund for his parties and giveaways had been meant "exclusively" for textbooks, school supplies, scholarships to poor and deserving students, the construction and repair of school buildings and classrooms, educational research, equipment for school laboratories, and the salaries and allowances for teachers and sports development.

"OSG, PNB EXECUTIVES JOINED PCGG OFFICIALS IN FOREIGN TRAVEL BINGE": Executives from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and former government-controlled bank Philippine National Bank (PNB) went on extravagant and unnecessary foreign travels with the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in their jet-setting years during the time of former chairman Camilo Sabio. An audit of the present PCGG, headed by chairman Andres Bautista, showed that while the PCGG officials under Sabio and his close friend and law school classmate, former ambassador to Moscow and PCGG commissioner for litigation Jaime Bautista, ran up travel expenses up to $2.27 million charged to the PNB special legal fund, the OSG and PNB also had their share of globe-trotting which they funded from the PNB special legal fund set up by the late PCGG chairman Haydee Yorac in 2004.

SUPREME COURT CRIES FOUL OVER EFFORT TO DESTROY ITS INTEGRITY ON MOVE TO IMPEACH OMBUDSMAN: The Supreme Court (SC) cried foul yesterday over what it believes to be a concerted effort to destroy its integrity as a result of its earlier move to temporarily stop the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. "There appears to be concerted efforts to bring the court down," SC spokesman Midas Marquez told reporters. Marquez cited the threat of impeachment against the justices and "trivial questions" on the status quo ante order issued by the Court in September last year that stopped the impeachment proceedings. He explained that while Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas has the right to file impeachment complaints against the eight justices who voted to issue the status quo ante order, pursuing such a plan would undermine judicial independence. "Filing of impeachment against our justices will have to be studied very carefully. It is an effective attempt to influence future decisions of the court," he lamented. He said that impeachment complaints on any ground specified in the Constitution cannot be based on decisions of the court.

SANDIGANBAYAN QUESTIONS OFFICE OF SOLICITOR GENERAL POWER TO INTERVENE: Justices of the Sandiganbayan second division were awed by the claim of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that it had the power to prosecute or at least intervene in any case pending before any court in the exercise of its right as the government's law office. Magistrates of the anti-graft court questioned the OSG's claim of having powers greater than even that of the Department of Justice (DOJ) during a clarificatory hearing last Friday on the motion for intervention filed by the OSG. The Solicitor General insists its office is a party in the plunder case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. The OSG, in asserting its right to intervene with the ultimate goal of nullifying the allegedly illegal plea bargaining agreement (PBA) between Garcia and the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), said no less than the Supreme Court (SC) recognizes its powers.

OMBUDSMAN EMPLOYEES RALLY 'ROUND HER: Employees of the Office of the Ombudsman are praying for Merci. On Monday, they came out to support their beleaguered chief, holding a program during lunch break to extol her virtues, thank her for the benefits she had showered upon them and denounce what they said was the unfair treatment she was getting from the House justice committee. The personal spokesperson of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said lawmakers wanted to unseat Gutierrez to replace her with a friendlier Ombudsman because a number of them were facing cases filed in the agency. Around 150 employees, all in white, gathered at the agency's conference hall and launched a signature campaign in Gutierrez's favor.

OMBUDSMANURED OF FAIR TRIAL IN SENATE: Despite his resignation call, Senator Francis Pangilinan assured Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez that she would get a fair trial when the impeachment case against her reaches the Senate. "Of course she [Gutierrez] will get a fair trial," Pangilinan told reporters on Monday. "The Senate is 24 kingdoms ika nga [so to speak], yeah she can be assured that she will get a fair hearing here in the Senate." "But she must understand that impartiality and neutrality are strictly required in a judicial proceeding but that's not a case in a political proceeding," he further said. He reiterated his call for the Ombudsman to just step down from office to spare the office from further damage. "But that of course is personal to her..."

PRO-ADMINISTRATION SOLONS HEED PNOY ON MERCI IMPOEACHMENT CASE: Allies of President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives on Monday rallied behind his call to support the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for supposedly betraying public trust by sitting on cases against high-ranking government officials under the Arroyo administration. The impeachment case will serve as a benchmark for those who are for or against the people, President Aquino said in a gathering of the Liberal Party in Quezon City. "The time of reckoning has come. Have we stayed true to those who had taken care of us, or shall we turn our backs on them?," the President said. "Of course, who'd go out his way looking for a fight? But this fight is something one cannot retreat from without being traitors to our fellow Filipinos," the President added... "The LP party stand is to support the impeachment case. The 80 LP members are expected to vote for the impeachment"...."We are at a crossroads," President Aquino told LP stalwarts during a meeting at the Balay Expo in Quezon City. "You are the prosecutor. Let's investigate. Was there any wrongdoing? Is there probable cause? Because if there is probable cause, your obligation is to file the articles of impeachment, and bring that to the Senate," he added. ..."She has been given so many chances," he said, noting that other government agencies may be able to bring people behind bars. But at the end of the day, the Ombudsman "will condone everything that they did, forget that we would be able to transform society, forget that we will change it."

MANILA BULLETIN LEAD ARTICLE: Have mercy on me - Don't treat me as convicted felon, Merci appeals >>> Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez appealed to the media not to portray her as a convicted felon in the ongoing impeachment trial before the House of Representatives. Gutierrez, who has rendered 1,241 decisions in less than six years in office, made the request as the House Committee on Justice will decide Tuesday on whether the two impeachment cases filed against her will be approved and sent to the full House for plenary vote. She said she was being tried by publicity...As a result, she said many people believed that "I am guilty of the charges hurled against me, without them knowing my side."

REUTERS INTERNATIONAL WIRE: PHILIPPINES NAMES NEW MILITARY CHIEF AMID CORRUPTION SCANDALS >>> Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Sunday appointed an experienced fighter pilot as the country's new military chief, hoping restore credibility to an institution facing corruption allegations...after lawmakers uncovered large-scale corruption in the armed forces involving some retired generals who were found to have acquired properties in the United States and siphoned off military funds earmarked for soldiers' training and salaries to their personal bank accounts. The scandals have affected the morale of soldiers fighting two long-running insurgencies that have killed 160,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth in this poor but resource-rich Southeast Asian nation. Addressing graduates of the Philippine Military Academy at the northern mountain resort city of Baguio, Aquino also promised to punish corrupt generals and push more resources to soldiers fighting Maoist and Muslim rebels. "There will be no sacred cows," Aquino told 196 new ensigns and lieutenants joining the 130,000-member armed forces, saying his government will not tolerate corruption and judiciously use military funds to buy new boots and guns for frontline soldiers. "We will correct the past mistakes and straighten the crooked policies. We will hold accountable all the thieves and all their accomplices."



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Guingona sticks to Ombudsman impeach call

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Party-list group Akbayan launches series of nationwide "truth and justice" protests to call for immediate removal of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez from office.

Fourteen years later, ombudsman's office dismisseS charge against former Cebu City mayor and eight others, in connection with the purchase of asphalt batching plant in case filed by Government auditors over the acquisition of plant, which cost P28.672 million in 1997 >>> anti-graft prosecutor said no evidence was presented that the respondents violated the law.

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Ombudsman files criminal charges against four deputized agents of Land Transportation Office allegedly caught extorting money from truck drivers in Naga City

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Government asks anti-graft court to issue order to seize assets of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot.

President Benigno Aquino III said he will offer former state auditor Heidi Mendoza a post at the Commission on Audit

OFFICIAL of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines renews call for OmbudSMAN to go on leave

AS her impeachment trial at the Senate looms, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez IS with calls to either face the music or just resign.

Sandiganbayan dismisseS plunder case filed by Ombudsman against former finance officials and textile traders Faustino and Gloria "Eng Eng" Chan Chingkoe for lack of probable cause...Ombudsman prosecutors failed to establish that any public officer enriched himself by at least P50 million in the supposed transaction involving 28 tax credit certificates (TCCs) issued to the Chingkoe-owned firm Filstar Textile Industrial Corp. from 1994 to 1997.

"We urge Ombudsman Gutierrez to be truthful to herself and the people she swore to serve by facing the impeachment proceedings without evasion and consider her resignation as a moral choice," the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) said in a statement

SENATOR: Current composition of the Senate will most likely favor Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez once the impeachment complaint against her is elevated to the chamber

Public opinion will be a major factor in swaying the senators to convict Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez when they try her for betrayal of public trust based on the two impeachment complaints filed against her in the House of Representatives.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has betrayed public trust by allowing her prosecutors to strike a plea deal with accused plunderer Carlos Garcia, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee declared

The Sandiganbayan First Division has dismissed a plunder case filed against former Department of Finance officials in connection with a tax credit scam involving executives of a textile firm, saying that the charge sheet filed by the Ombudsman prosecutors failed to show that the officials pocketed ill-gotten wealth.

Chief Justice Renato Corona maintained that the status quo ante (SQA) that the Supreme Court issued almost six months ago stopping Congress from proceeding with the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was issued according to rules.

Individual taxpayers are exempted from submitting their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth (SALN) when they file their 2010 income tax return BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto Henares said...only government officials and employees are required to file their SALN, while private individual taxpayers, particularly those with two jobs or earn an annual salary of P0.5 million have to attach the Annual Information Return (AIR).

CANADIAN PRESS: Tax evasion charges filed against 2 retired Philippine generals, wives, relative

Malacañang will take action against special prosecutors in Office of the Ombudsman who were behind plea bargain deal with retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia "as expeditiously as possible."

"I will not resign," were Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's fighting words amid a recent call in the Senate to "spare the country and resign" and being on the brink of impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Solon warns against including plea bargain case in impeach raps

Catholic schools clamor for Ombudsman's impeachment

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Aquino: Ombudsman should also answer for hostage fiasco

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Blue Ribbon to Gutierrez: Resign

PALACE: Impeachment is about resolving the land mines or corrupt acts it discovered when it came to power by filing cases with an ombudsman who would be able to do the job.

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Ecleo lawyer blasts Sandiganbayan

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50 lawmakers have pending cases with Ombudsman

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Two of the Arroyos in the House of Representatives declared that they do not need Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to shield them from prosecution for controversies during the 9-year tenure of former President, now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Ombud clears 4 environment employees of graft case

Ex-AFP chief David is new Immigration chief

An inter-agency task force is not discounting the possibility that ranking officials of the land transportation office and national police have links with carjack syndicates.

The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Sandiganbayan to issue a writ of attachment covering all known assets of Jacinto Ligot, former comptroller of the military, and his relatives.

Four Customs officials ordered suspended over frozen food declared unfit for human consumption

Palace: New AFP Chief to achieve "deliverables" in 9 months

On the brink of being impeached, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez expressed sadness yesterday at President Aquino's appeal to his House allies for her ouster.


For the third time, the Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr...five years ago found guilty of paying in full for the construction of a public market, a new municipal building and a guesthouse in San Jose, Surigao del Norte, which projects were never completed by the private contractor.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Tuesday was dealt with heavy blows - the expected overwhelming vote of the House of Representatives' justice committee to forward the impeachment case against her for plenary voting, and the Supreme Court's dismissal of her appeal to stop the impeachment proceedings.

Sumisip Mayor faces corruption charges

House panel names prosecutors for Merci impeachment trial

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"Obstruction of justice" amuses majority lawmakers

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Heidi Mendoza admits she wants to head COA

Ombudsman's ranks rallying behind chief

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There is a consensus all around that the only way the ombudswoman can redeem and regain her person is by resigning. Retreat, lick her wounds in a dark corner, and figure out how best to spend the rest of her life in service to the Filipino people she had failed. Resignation may happen if the ombudswoman has a normal, run-of-the-mill attitude about ethics. But we have seen that she is one tough teflon, unmindful, unaffected by public opinion. -- Dahli Aspillera in Malaya Business Insight

The (Supreme Court's) issuance of the petition (temporary restraining order against the impeachment hearing of Ombudsman) stinks but (court administrator) Marquez claims the stench is intended to malign the integrity of the Supreme Court. Who created the stench? The three justices who demanded to read the petition before commenting on the petition or the majority of eight jurists who issued the status quo ante order on a 60-page petition 36 hours after it was received by the Court? Let's get the facts straight. Nobody wants to harm that Court. It is the Court that is harming itself. -- AMADO P. MACASAET in Malaya Business Insight

MISSING RANSOM: ...five Manila policemen [have disappeared] following the arrest last March 7 of the kidnappers of a Malaysian businessman. But for now, with flight usually associated with guilt, the five are suspected to have pocketed P12.1 million out of P16.3 million paid by businessman Eric Sim Chin Tong to his kidnappers. The five reported to their superior officer that they recovered a ransom of P4.2 million, a day after arresting alleged kidnapping mastermind Marlon Lopera and another suspect. But the victim said he paid P16.3 million to his kidnappers. A manhunt has been launched for the five cops...The five cops at least reported recovering a portion of the money. There have been other cases wherein the ransom paid did not match the amount reported to have been recovered by police rescuers. And the problem is not unique to the police. No one knows what happened to the estimated $30 million collected by Abu Sayyaf bandits led by the late Ghalib Commander Robot Andang...And its not just money that disappears. Prohibited drugs confiscated during raids are pilfered even while in transit to a police station. Even cars impounded as evidence can disappear from police custody or are used by cops for personal purposes...Such cases further erode public trust in an organization that continues to suffer from public perceptions that some of its members are no better than the criminals they catch. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

THE ADMINISTRATION of President Benigno Aquino III is fueling a lynch-mob atmosphere over the effort to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at all costs as the House of Representatives prepares to vote in plenary this week on the articles of impeachment it intends to send to the Senate for trial. At the same time, the President has thrown the entire weight of his office to galvanize support in Congress for the impeachment drive which is likely to encounter difficulties in the Senate, which will act as an impeachment tribunal, where the votes in that 23-seat chamber are splintered.If the evidence of the prosecution is strong, as it is claimed to be, why is it that the administration has launched a vilification campaign designed to swing public opinion behind it. In what way can it be measured? In the newspapers? Whose opinion being expressed is the most noisy? It is claimed that impeachment is about evidence and determined by assessment of evidence through legal procedures. It cannot be discounted that the lynch-mob approach of the administration is a double-edged weapon. It seemed it has pushed her back to the wall and has forced her to fight back with her own evidence. It is possible the impeachment could run aground in the recalcitrant Senate. The President is playing with fire in this game of lynchmanship. -- Amando Doronila in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Despite calls for her to save the office by resigning, the Ombudsman said she would remain in her position and stick it out because she has not done anything wrong. The Ombudsman clearly gave the special prosecutors in the Garcia plunder case the go signal to enter into a plea bargaining agreement, to the disadvantage of the Filipino people, even though the evidence is not weak. When confronted with evidence, the case against Garcia is very strong thus warranting the Ombudsman to review the propriety of the plea bargaining agreement. It is just hoped that the Office of the Ombudsman will now find merit in the case and pursue the plunder case against Garcia unless it is protecting someone higher up. They should not fear because they would be doing something right and must pursue the case relentlessly regardless of who would be indicted by the Office of the Ombudsman. The Blue Ribbon Committee also indicted the special prosecutors by recommending that a case should be filed against them so they would be fired by the President. But if they have delicadeza, then they should not wait for the President to fire them. They should all resign, which is the best thing for them to doagain, to spare the office and the people. -- Ricky Poca in Cebu Daily News


REVERSAL OF TRUST: comes the Commission on Audit. With an open and very expensive can of worms, it reveals that in 2009 the GSIS board of directors first allotted a huge amount of money for their compensation package and then declared the self-same package confidential, effectively obscuring their greed from public view. The numbers alone inspire awe and righteous anger. The directors' compensation package ran up to P11 million for each, or a total of P88 million for the entire board. In addition, each director got a 13th- and 15th-month pay, a midyear financial assistance, a productivity and incentive bonus of four months and a share from the Provident Fund every month that, all in all, added up to P2.6 million. For representation and transportation, they allotted themselves P120,000 and P40,000, respectively. Based on the number of meetings, according to the COA, each director in effect paid themselves P80,000 for every board meeting-scandalously an atrocious "incentive" to get them to attend the GSIS board meetings. And there was much more. The GSIS not only paid their employees far more than other comparable agencies, it spent P135.471 million on ads and PR, and P25 million on avian flu medicine for their employees. How did the directors manage to do all these? They merely reinterpreted the GSIS charter to invest the board with the power to increase, give and approve the grant of allowances and bonuses for themselves "without regard to existing laws, rules and regulations," to quote from the COAs report. This is the best example of what happens when government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) get to write for themselves a check. -- Editorial in The Philippine Inquirer


Corruption can be eradicated first by not practicing it at home. When every family does that then it will just simply ripple to all people either civilian or government. Like the ocean it started with a drop of water. The change has to come from most if not all individuals. Corruption has rooted deeply in veins of every Filipinos. As Rizal said it is a cancer. An incurable sickness. However, if every exert its effort to get rid of corruption, then a miracle cure is just on the horizon.  --   ATOZET

STAMPING OUT CORRUPTION: ...strong country chapters should be created to stimulate political and civil cooperation...involving the widest group of stakeholders in planning, enforcing, and evaluating anti-corruption measures government agencies, civil society groups, international agencies, donors, media practitioners, academics, students, and non-governmental organizations...citizens' participation is extremely important. Vigilance will not only deter corruption, but also reshape values that have been tainted by it. At the same time, the credibility that the public vests in parliamentarians is crucial in lending credence to anti-corruption efforts...based on the publics perspective, the integrity of legislators can weaken or strengthen the campaign itself. Seven bills seeking to strengthen anti-plunder and anti-graft practices have been filed in our Congress so far. Additionally, we must strive to boost the oversight of anti-money laundering activities, which is critical in tracking, recovering and preventing the movement of illicit assets. Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010 shows that the Philippines is one of the most ill-perceived nations with regard to fraudulence...Perception is truly one of the biggest battles we face. But it is not only what foreign observers think of us. More importantly, it is how we, Filipinos, see ourselves and our country. -- SEN. EDGARDO J. ANGARA in Manila Bulletin

IMPEACH A SMOKESCREEN: The impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez appears to have become Noynoy's focus for want of any other achievement in his avowed battle against corruption. Creating an enemy to have the people rally against has been the practice for so long of many governments that have become bereft of public support. Gutierrez is not exactly the ideal Ombudsman since she carries the stigma of having close associations with the past leadership but looking at the history of her office, a predecessor, Aniano Desierto, suffered the same fate of being similarly accused of conspiring with former President Fidel Ramos, whom he incidentally cleared of all charges of corruption in an expo scam, but unlike Gutierrez, he safely finished his full term, a big portion of which was under the abbreviated presidency of Joseph Estrada. Noynoy claims that Gutierrez will be an obstacle in efforts to make former President Arroyo and government officials who served under her answerable for graft cases already with the Ombudsman or those to be filed against them and he had made it clear on several occasions that he wants her out of the anti-graft office. Noynoy's branding of Gutierrez has been based largely on conjectures, likely from the earlier dismissal by the Ombudsman of a graft complaint against Arroyo involving the anomalous $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) contract. Legally, however, as Gloria was still president then, plunder charges against her on this NBN project could not be filed, since she enjoyed immunity at that time. And just as incidentally too, even if Merci is ousted through a conviction by the Senate impeachment court, Noynoy and his allies cannot charge her in court after her ouster, since there is no indication at all of even her having committed graft and corruption.

If Gutierrez resigns or is kicked out after impeachment, the Office of the Ombudsman should be revamped. Even before Gutierrez came to the Office of the Ombudsman, that agency had been a den of thieves. Investigators prey on retiring government officials and employees who have pending cases with the antigraft agency. Officials and employees who want to retire with a clean slate bribe Ombudsman investigators. Government people who have cases with the Ombudsman bribe investigators so their cases are either shelved or dropped. I am told that the Customs official who owns a huge mansion in Fort Bonifacio is not being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman because he has paid off investigators. -- Ramon Tulfo in Philippine Daily Inquirer

In the Philippines, from the Marcos conjugal dictatorship to the bacchanalian interlude of the Estrada watch to the allegedly corrupt Arroyo regime, it is queried what fundamental or earth-shaking reforms have been undertaken in the last 50 years?......The answer is not much. -- HECTOR R.R. VILLANUEVA in Manila Bulletin

There must be an end to fund conversions and the other budgeting loopholes in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that have made possible pasalubong, pabaon and monthly fund diversions to private bank accounts. AFP officers have repeatedly emphasized that the necessary reforms have been implemented and such anomalies are no longer possible. The best way to verify this is by assigning credible resident auditors to the AFP. The Commission on Audit also needs to implement its own reforms after the revelations of Heidi Mendoza, who might become its chief. Bidding and procurement rules and processes in the AFP have also undergone reforms in recent years after the scandal over Garcias sources of wealth erupted. But the processes need vigilant monitoring by credible individuals and groups. Similar fund conversions and budget loopholes can still be found in other government agencies. A new system of preparing the budget and accounting for expenditures under the General Appropriations Act of 2011, which can plug opportunities for graft, must be properly implemented. On the part of Congress, lawmakers who are sincerely committed to promoting transparency and accountability should finally pass the Freedom of Information Act... Also expected from Congress is the passage of amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001. -- Ana Marie Pamintuan in The Philippine Star

Everyone has the right to defense, including mighty Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in her impeachment. But her hiring of Sal Panelo and Anacleto Diaz as defense counsels raises eyebrows. For, the two also represent clients whom the Ombudsman is supposed to prosecute. Panelo is a lawyer of former Comelec chief Abalos; Diaz, of the alleged over-pricers of the Macapagal Boulevard. Gutierrez is being impeached for dismal prosecution and conviction rates. Among the examples mentioned are the ZTE and MegaPacific scams, both involving Abalos and which Gutierrez allegedly weakened. There are over 50,000 other lawyers in the Philippines. Even if only for appearance's sake, Gutierrez would do well to distance herself from attorneys of Ombudsman litigants. -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

MORE THAN A NUMBERS GAME: The toughest challenge for this administration is to see to it that in its efforts, the impeachment process is strengthened rather than further undermined. This can be done by following all the rules, according the accused due process, and presenting sufficient evidence to persuade the public that an impeachable official has betrayed public trust and deserves to be removed from office. Impeachment is supposed to be a difficult process, to prevent its frivolous application. But the process has been weakened by our corrupted politics. In the previous administration, impeachable officials were simply "inoculated" every year through the filing of a defective complaint as soon as Congress opened. Fund conversions and the appropriation of "savings" from various departments allowed the administration to flood the halls of Congress with millions of reasons, sometimes crudely packed in brown paper bags, to ensure that an impeachment complaint would be tossed out. This time several of the congressmen who accepted those persuasive reasons of the previous years are criticizing the impeachment process. The challenge to P-Noy's congressional allies is to restore the impeachment process as a tool for promoting national interest and the public good. It should stop being nothing more than a numbers game. -- Ana Marie Pamintuan in The Philippine Star

NO JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO DENY JUSTICE TO US!:...there is no question that the impeachment is nothing but a political exercise regardless of all the denials from those who want the Ombudsman impeached. But from far away Cebu let me say it loud and clear that we have lost the trust and confidence of the Ombudsman for her lack of transparency. When we asked what happened to the celebrated cases here in Cebu like the infamous Girl Scouts scam that happened in 2003, or the infamous Lamp Post scam, we didn't even get any response from her office. Even our beloved Ricardo Cardinal Vidal asked this in a formal letter and he only got a loud silence from the Office of the Ombudsman. We succumb to that dictum, "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied," hence the Ombudsman's sitting on those cases has denied us Cebuanos the justice that we've been looking for. So lets get on with this circus in the Senate and move to impeach her. If I were Ombudsman Gutierrez, I would rather resign with honor than be impeached with dishonor. People who are entrusted to deliver justice to our people and deny justice to us have no right to demand justice for themselves! -- Bobit S. Avila in The Philippine Star

What would be an ideal government position for former state auditor Heidi Mendoza? (Click to read citizen opinions expressed)

IMPEACHING THE OMBUDSMAN: Fortunately for the impeachers, Merceditas Gutierrez failed to cultivate a reputation as a paragon of non-partisanship. Long after her patron, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, ended her presidency, she continued to see the world through the prism of the regime of which she considered herself a part. In doing so, she betrayed the functions of her office. But - to be able to see this clearly - the legislators who sit in judgment must themselves rise above their first nature as politicians. This is what makes impeachment so unusual, complex and challenging. -- Randy David Philippine in Daily Inquirer

THAT IS CULTURE: Culture is the moving spirit behind laws. It's the one thing that makes everything automatic, instinctive, reflexive. You see that in the way the Japanese do not even ask if cheating in exams is a crime. Everyone agrees, it is assumed. It transgresses the values of hard work and fair play. And you see that in the way the Japanese do not bother to press the authorities to do something about it. The authorities do so by their own initiative or compulsion, from a sense of duty. That is culture. It assures that where there's a crime, retribution cannot be far behind. But what is culture really but the voice of the people expressing itself through long-standing tradition and cherished values? What is culture really but the voice of the people crystallized into a code of honor or "ways of doing things" that will brook no trespass? What is culture really but the voice of the people turned into the will of the people, the resolve of the people, the marching orders of the people by repetitive action, by the doing of things again and again until they become reflexive and instinctive? That is what we need to fight corruption -- Conrado de Quiros in Philippine Daily Inquirer

OPENING A CAN OF WORMS? - CORRUPTION: Another view is that the battle in the Congress to kick out Gutierrez could be part of a wider and deeper war for reforms as promised by the President. Now on its ninth month of casting around, the Aquino administration must land soon a big fish to convince the skeptics and the indifferent that its avowed campaign against corruption is for real. It is noteworthy, however, that while the Ombudsman may be big fish, not even a hint of corruption has been thrown at her. Gutierrez may be accused of being slow, selective, or even incompetent, but nary a hair of corruption is found on her. If this impeachment battle targeting the Ombudsman is not about corruption, what is it? * * * CAN-OPENER: I see Gutierrez as being used as a can opener - to blast open a bigger can of worms. She is an obstacle in the Yellow Army march to drive out all Arroyo stragglers, not so much because they are corrupt but because they are appointees of the previous president. Gutierrez's one mortal sin, a culpable violation in the eyes of some partisans, is that she is a classmate of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and an appointee of then President Arroyo. By the undue process of guilt by association, Gutierrez must go. The theory seems to be that after the Ombudsman and similar big blocks are removed, a slew of other key players of the previous regime - maybe even Gloria Arroyo herself - would follow down the drain.

SHOOTING BUDDIES: I have always believed that President Aquino chose a competent and honest Land Transportation Office chief in the person of his shooting buddy and provincemate Virginia Torres, who was chief of the agency's Tarlac office. I still do. Sadly, Torres has become collateral damage in the fight for the P500-million contract for the annual issuance of some 6 million motor vehicle licenses, and the ongoing struggle for the control of Stradcom. Stradcom is the information technology company that has a multi-billion peso contract with the LTO to connect its 250 offices nationwide. This would supposedly end vehicle smuggling and carnapping....the President cannot seem to do what's right procedurally and legally when it comes to his shooting buddies, friends and supporters. In the process, he makes the members of his Cabinet like De Lima and De Jesus look like doormats. And it's not the first time either that President countermanded De Lima. Recall that the President also expressed "full trust and confidence" in Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, another shooting buddy. I find it difficult to understand why the President is so attached to his shooting buddies and so trusting to his friends and supporters, come what may. He seems to forget that hes already the leader of 94 million Filipinos, not the protector of his friends. -- Emil Jurado in Manila Standard

ANALYSTS WEIGH IN ON IMPEACHMENT: Political observers believe the House Justice Committee's impeachment proceedings were above board. Speaking on ANC's "The Rundown," U.P. National College of Public Administration and Governance Professor Prospero de Vera said complaints that the House Justice Committee did not give due process to the Ombudsman are unfair, after the Supreme Court (SC) junked the Ombudsman's appeal to stop the House impeachment hearings. "The procedures were acceptable. Even if there was a pending decision before the SC, that has been rendered moot and academic by the fact that the SC came out with a decision. Even if that was raised previously, that has no legal consequence now," De Vera said. De Vera added the committee acted well within the bounds of House rules, adding no questions were raised to the contrary during the House proceedings. -- ABS-CBN News Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña, meantime, brushed off Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's claim that the committee was a "kangaroo court," saying she never got to test the committee's proceedings. "It's quite clear there's probable cause for the impeachment," La Viña said in the same interview. "In my view, if you can't proceed with a good prosecution in 1 or 2 years you should dismiss the case. She should not have sat on them. That's why you have the grounds which is essentially inaction," he added.

THE ENEMY WITHIN: NEW ARMED Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. has responded vigorously to the marching order given to him by President Aquino "to continue the reforms" of his predecessor, Gen. Ricardo David, a very tactful reference to the corruption scandal facing the AFP as a result of the multi-million military comptrollership scandal. Initially saying that the Presidents instruction was "very challenging," Oban has since vowed to stamp out corruption in the AFP by making fiscal and procurement reforms the cornerstone of his term. "I pledge to strengthen the procurement process and ensure accountability of every resource manager of the AFP," Oban vowed during the turnover ceremonies Monday. Referring to the alleged misuse of funds for bilateral military exercises and for various missions undertaken by the AFP for United Nations international peacekeeping, he added, "I pledge to safeguard funds from all sources, including that of Balikatan and the United Nations, and especially those coming from our taxes, the blood and sweat of our people, and I shall hold myself accountable for their proper and effective utilization." Oban also promised to go after grafters in the military, saying, "I pledge . . . the . . . prosecution of those who are not willing to work on these same pledges."...he has come up with very concrete proposals to reform the system. He has pledged to computerize procurement to document all transactions, set up institutional checks and balances, and undertake unannounced audits. And as further evidence that he has done his homework, he has vowed to implement the recommendations of the Feliciano Commission that investigated the 2003 Oakwood mutiny. -- Editorial in The Philippine Inquirer

CORRUPTION & THE LIFESTYLE: The harsh fact is that the government does not have a monopoly on corruption. From business magnates to the man on the street, those in the private sector are as adept at bribery and extortion as the folks in Congress and the bureaucracy. When a supplier of stationery and office equipment tacks on a bigger margin than usual in his quotation, it's not necessarily because of the devaluation of the peso or the increase in the price of oil. He's making provisions for the syndicate in the purchasing department. When a 60-second TV commercial costs much more to produce, its not necessarily because the price of raw stock or talents has gone through the roof. It may be because some middlemen padded the quote, thus bumping up the ICOR. When lowly paid accounting clerks are suddenly able to make frequent trips to Hong Kong, it's not necessarily because the office has just given them a bonus. It could be the bill collectors. And don't think people in media are exempt. Anybody who can explain how newsmen can afford fancy cars and expensive lifestyles on their basic pay has got to be a mathematical genius. Blame it on the Lifestyle Syndrome. We Filipinos are mesmerized by The Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous. We are obsessed with becoming like them, even if we haven't got the means......The Lifestyle is like the siren that enchants the mariner and draws him toward the rocks. With the lure of The Lifestyle so intense in a country where the majority of people are destitute, it's a wonder the Philippines is only 11th among the most corrupt countries in the world. -- republished, originally written in 1997 by Greg B. Macabenta in BusinessWorld

Side-story unfolds in Gutierrez case -- Read it in "GOTCHA" By Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

IMPROVING MILITARY GOVERNANCE: To eliminate corruption in the Philippine military, to have an effective check and balance system in handling huge military funds and expenditures and for transparency purposes, professionalism in the ccmptrollership office must be heightened. The comptrollership function must be assigned to financial experts. For instance, the department could hire a retired professional COA supervising auditor to head the department, or consider sourcing those retired senior managers or partners of reputable professional accounting firms. COA's decision to strictly implement rotation of auditors every three years combined with heightened professionalism in the comptrollership office would ensure proper accountability of funds, and possibly eradicate corruption. More than anything else, there should perhaps be a comprehensive review and evaluation of the effectiveness of the entire comptrollership function, done by professional consultants, in lieu of series of so-called "stop gap" measures currently being undertaken. -- Map Insights -- By Celso P. Vivas in Business World

WHO REALLY KILLED GEN. ANGELO REYES?: With each passing year it is becoming abundantly clear that the 1986 revolution - popularly known as EDSA I - was for the most part, a failure. Although Ferdinand Marcos was toppled from power, the changes people hoped would flourish never took root. Today, corruption is just as widespread, if not more so; bribery is commonplace; nepotism is thriving; a handful of families still control most of the country's wealth; and a growing number of Filipinos live on less than eight dollars a day. Amidst this grinding poverty, the rich flaunt their riches and further sow seeds of corruption as the less fortunate quickly realize that a quick way to attain that kind of wealth is to engage in illicit activities on the side. For low-level public officials this can mean receiving a 'tip' from transactions that cross their desk each day. For mid-level government workers it can mean favoring contractors who give kickbacks. For judges, it can mean rendering decisions based on who can pay them the most; and those lucky enough to be in the top rungs of government, the sky's the limit as to what they can do and the piles of cash they can make. Thus corruption in the Philippines has gotten so pervasive that public officials from the very top down to the Barangay Tanods can be in on the take. Numerous foreign businessmen and even diplomats have raised their concerns, the most recent being the country's Australian ambassador. But corruption exists only because it is tolerated. Corruption has become a fact of life in the today's Philippines. This is the world Angelo Reyes and every other Filipino now lives in. We accept it, we tolerate it, we look the other way, we pretend it is not there, and sometimes we even benefit from it. So if we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we know who really killed Angelo Reyes...we look at that person every day in the mirror! -- A Editorisl

LEVELING UP THE ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE: Corruption in the Philippines especially in government, for which we rank very highly among nations, is something else, though. It is the single most important negative factor for our persistent and deep poverty, which in turn breeds widespread criminality, insurgencies, and political oppression. It is massive and massively cultural. It's no brainer to say that the nation with all the modern-day challenges to nation-building will not go forward, or even survive, without taming if not eliminating corruption. The current effort of the Aquino government to bring to justice every corrupt government official it can get its hands on is a giant step forward - and deserves total public support. President Aquino has appealed for people to use online media to unmask cases of corruption - and mainstream media, too, can be more pro-active and enterprising in this regard. -- Editorial in Zamboanga Today

CITIZENS VS CORRUPTION: The formation of a citizens' group to help in the campaign against corruption is an encouraging development. It can certainly help the Aquino administration, which is focused on an anti-corruption drive, attain its goal...The Philippines is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world...the campaign against corruption should be conducted not just by the government alone. More importantly, it should be conducted without letup by civil society groups and the average citizen...The citizens' campaign could start simple as protesting and stopping the practice of politicians putting their names and faces on publicly funded projects and services... Another easily doable project would be to monitor the lifestyle of public officials and civil servants...The people should also pressure President Aquino to certify as urgent the Whistleblowers' Act and the Freedom of Information bill and ensure that Congress will pass these two measures in the current regular session. These two measures would greatly help in the campaign against corruption. The term of the anti-corruption President Aquino is an auspicious time to campaign all-out against corruption. The task may seem daunting, but it can be done. -- Editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer



As I promised, here’s the story I got from my source about the smuggling of sugar in Cebu. Apparently smuggling comes to Cebu either through technical smuggling or outright smuggling. It turned out that some industrial users have been granted the special privilege by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to import tariff-free sugar on the basis that the sugar will be used on the products which are destined for the international markets. As an example, the SRA allows dried mango producers to import sugar as long as their output is immediately exported.

So how do we know that this privilege is not being abused? This is the job of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the SRA to monitor and to ensure that the imported items were truly used in the production process, which they call “Liquidation.” But it becomes technical smuggling when a recognized importer of sugar releases its cargo to the domestic market so it can be sold for profit to the disadvantage of our local sugar producers. This is because the BOC or the SRA failed miserably in the job of monitoring these shipments.

The problem complicating this is the fact that there is a legal loophole within the SRA regulations that allows these privileged few to comply with the liquidation only after nine long months. Hence it is easy to hide the discrepancies thanks to some unscrupulous officials. I gathered that the Sugar Anti-Smuggling Office (SASO) has already placed these smugglers on the technical smuggling watch list. They were granted a privilege, but they are greedy!

Then there is also the problem of outright smuggling where unscrupulous characters outright misdeclare their imported sugar as tariff-free items like vinegar powder or soya meal products. Recently a lot of imported Thai sugar has been found at the Carbon Market and in Tabo-an market, which is visible proof that the smugglers are getting away with their nefarious acts. Now could it be that this smuggled sugar also came from other ports? It could be. This is why Customs officials should look into this pronto because Cebu is fast getting the ugly reputation as the source of all sugar smuggling into the country.

Last July 2010 two warehouses were raided, one in Cebu City and the other in Mandaue City, where sacks of Thai sugar were seized from well-established Cebuano businessmen and the smuggled sugar was turned over to the Customs. The big question was… what happened to that seized sugar? My sources told me that Thai sugar that was produced in January 2010 have been found in Cebu, hence those raids is proof that there is sugar smuggling happening in Cebu.

What is distressing is the fact that despite the seizure of smuggled sugar by the SASO, not a single smuggler has been exposed or identified, although my sources told me who they are. Now this was the report given to Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III when he visited Bacolod last week, where he expressed his dismay that this was still going on under his watch. Indeed, P-Noy can no longer blame this on the GMA administration. -- Bobit S. Avila in The Philippine Star

A new kind of People Power

This...situation calls for a change of heart and mindset for many of us. Instead of thinking of People Power as a one time, big time event that we commemorate every year. We should now begin to think of People Power as a way of life that we are called to live out each day. People Power brought freedom and democracy to our country in 1986 and it is also through genuine People Power especially from the more privileged class in our society that we will be able to free our country from poverty.  This new way of life calls for us to be more aware of what is happening in our society and to become more sensitive to the needs of the other especially the poor. It is also a call for us to go beyond our usual comfort zones, stop making excuses, make small sacrifices and decide to regularly make time to share our talents and skills to help address our country’s social problems.  Small things when done in a consistent basis will go a long way such as instead of buying another pair of shoes that you still don’t need, why not use the money to help buy a complete set of school supplies for several public school students? Instead of taking a trip to the beach every weekend, why not sacrifice a week or two every month so that you can take time to join a medical mission and use the funds to help provide life saving medicines to indigent patients? When each one of us decides to make these small sacrifices then we see this new kind of People Power emerging. This is the time as well when we will see that we are making headway in our fight against poverty.

In summary, what I am trying to say in this article is this new People Power asks for us not to turn a blind eye but to actually give a damn and care for the plight of our less-privileged Filipino brothers and sisters. It is a challenge for us to go beyond the typical lip service of saying that one loves the country yet s/he cannot even concretely show genuine love for its most marginalized people. It is a call to not stop at just complaining about all our country’s problems but to have a more conscious effort to become involved in nation-building.  Finally, it is an even greater challenge for us to begin to change our own way of life so that it is no longer just centered to ourselves, our needs and our wants but rather, a life where we make a firm and lasting commitment that each day is another opportunity for us to do our own share in helping uplift the lives of others. -- Harvey S. Keh - Read full blog article at:


City shuns PAGCOR Casinos

Despite the offer of one million pesos a month for the city government to spend for social services, the City Mayor of Dumaguete was firm after consulting the Bishop of the Diocese of Dumaguete about refusing PAGCOR, the Philippine Gaming Corporation, to open casinos in Dumaguete this year.

The refusal of Mayor Sagarbarria of PAGCOR, the official gambling lord in the government, to open casinos in Dumaguete, was lauded by the business, the academe, and religious sectors. Read full editorial at:



7 March 2010





In line with its 2011 theme of “MAPping a Culture of Integrity,” the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) fully supports the “Pera ng Bayan” online initiative of the Department of Finance (DOF) for an improved monitoring and feedback system for its projects and those of its attached agencies.


MAP earlier commended the DOF for the anti-corruption steps it has already taken and for enhancing the capability of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to step up counter-corruption initiatives to address rampant smuggling of many products like oil and motor vehicles.


We encourage the DOF to aggressively pursue with maximum speed and intensity its campaign to prosecute, convict and jail major tax evaders and smugglers as plugging this continuing plunder would go a long way in addressing the country’s fiscal problems.


A smuggling-free Philippines will not only improve the country’s standing in the world competitiveness rankings but will also address the revenue gap and provide much needed funds for education, health and infrastructure.


MAP encourages all its 747 members to use the “Pera ng Bayan” initiative ( in reporting their good and bad experiences in dealing with the DOF, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the BOC.


MAP will facilitate the gathering and generation of reports among its members who may have complaints falling within the purview of “Pera Ng Bayan.”


Feedback at <>.  The previous statement can be viewed at



Partner organizations in this website while it was actively publishing news excerpts:


Ehem -- the anti-corruption initiative of the Philippine Jesuits echoes the urgent call for cultural reform against corruption in the Philippines.
Ehem aims at bringing people to a renewed sensitivity to the evil of corruption and its prevalence in ordinary life. It seeks ultimately to make them more intensely aware of their own vulnerability to corruption, their own uncritiqued, often unwitting practice of corruption in daily life.
Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical of corruption, intent on integrity!
Management Association of the Philippines 
MAP is a management organization committed to promoting management excellence. The members of the MAP represent a cross-section of CEOs, COOs and other top executives from the top local and multinational companies operating in the country, including some top officials of government and the academe.

iPro supports the process of reducing corruption by seeking synergies between Government of the Republic of the Philippines agencies and civil society at all levels.

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