Bank commends Phl for driving governance reforms
World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick
today praised President Benigno Aquino III for taking on the challenge of creating more transparent and accountable government
to benefit the poor.
“At the heart of President Aquino’s policies
is a belief in the power of citizens to hold their government accountable, and that this makes for better governance and a
more just society,” said Zoellick.
Under the Aquino administration, the Philippines
has seen extensive reforms in its budget management process, such as enhancing transparency and calling on more civil society
participation. Other reforms include the governance of state enterprises and strengthening anti-corruption authorities --
the Supreme Audit Institution and the Ombudsman.
DRIVE GAINING GROUND"
The Aquino administration’s
effort to stamp out corruption is gaining momentum but may need more push to make it sustainable, according to a US-based
group monitoring developments in Asia.
“President Aquino has raised these issues very
forcefully, but the system has many elements of corruption and so it’s going to require sustained effort over time and
I believe that President Aquino has made a great start in that process, but it will need to be an ongoing process,”
Jaime Metzel, executive vice president of Asia Society, said.
“As everybody knows, corruption is the scourge
of the Philippines. It has the most talented population maybe in the world but so many Filipinos are helping build other countries
and it has become a country that exist largely on remittances,” he said. Metzel said he is confident Aquino can deliver
on his promise because he leads by example.
speech at the 2011 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, September 21, 2011
Ending corruption means not only cleaning up the system, but
holding accountable those who have wronged our people. Accountability allows closure to the many sins committed against our
people over the past generations. Without accountability, there will be no certainty that others will not follow in the footsteps
of those who have wronged our people. Without accountability, the entrenched culture of impunity will remain, the corrupt
will continue to flourish and steal, and the atmosphere of doubt and mistrust will continue to linger even as we rebuild our
Governing with integrity, with transparency
and with accountability not only heals a national psyche that has long been characterized by its cynicism and mistrust of
government. It also provides the foundation for equitable progress. Good governance, therefore, is good economics.
speech at the IBM Centennial Forum in New York, September 21, 2011
A society that respects all voices avoids having any individual
voice try to drown out the others. And where all can speak and be heard with dignity and good will, there you can find a conversation
that leads to a consensus.
What, then, is the future of leadership?
What makes a leader? The leader is one who exercises self-control; one who promotes discourse, discourages demagoguery, and
seeks consensus. One who holds fast to essential truths without forcing the world to conform to his preconceived notions;
one who, in other words, recognizes that legitimacy is built on accountability, and accountability is built not on promises
but through results. Ultimately, a leader is one who trusts his people to decide for themselves, and allows them to shape
their own future.
Speech of President Aquino
at the Asia Society, September 20, 2011
Recognizing our successes in our anti-corruption and good governance
efforts, the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation conferred Compact Status on the Philippines, for which
we received a 434-million-dollar grant. One of the reasons why the Philippines was found deserving of the grant was the headway
we made in fighting corruption in government. The Philippines also takes pride in having been chosen as one of four pilot-partners
for President Obama’s Partnership for Growth initiative. Furthermore, most recently, the Philippines was invited
to serve in the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership. This is a new multilateral initiative that encourages
governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
That we have been chosen to be part of this project is yet another affirmation that the Philippines is a good place to do
business in, and a good country to do business with.
speech at the launch of the Open Government Partnership, September 20, 2011
...Our administration defines accountability
in two ways: as a commitment to uphold the highest ethical standards in government, and as an obligation to achieve measurable
performance targets and outcomes. To uphold accountability, we have taken a two-pronged approach, focusing on the curative
and the preventive. As we vigorously pursue our campaign against those who abused power in the past, we are also strengthening
institutions through Open Government...
The long-standing culture of corruption
and concealment that had taken root will take time to change...All these efforts are indicators of how serious we are in transforming
our system from one that operates through secrecy, impunity, and collusion, into a government that embodies transparency,
accountability, and citizen engagement—a government that truly exists for its people.
As a member of the OGP Steering Committee, we are, therefore, not
only excited, but derive strength, from working together to achieve our shared aspirations. By means of National Action Plans
informed by the successes and lessons each of us can share with each other, the best practices from our individual national
milieus can become a source of collective strength, making a living reality of the Declaration of Principles on Open Government.
Business asks gov’t to accelerate spending, pump-prime economy
‘Even with the risk of little corruption seeping in’
The government needs to accelerate spending in the coming months and pump-prime the economy, as a year of review of projects
and systems should already be enough to make transactions as corruption-free as possible. Makati Business Club chairman Ramon
del Rosario Jr. said the Aquino administration wanted to avoid corruption so much that it hardly implemented any projects
during its first year. "Because the government wanted to avoid corruption so much, the pace of government spending became
too slow. We can't (avoid corruption) to the extreme that no projects will be implemented. Infrastructure spending is necessary,"
Del Rosario said. "The government needs to accelerate spending, even with the risk of having a little corruption seep in,"
Del Rosario added. MBC and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines spearhead the Integrity Initiative, the private
sectors answer to the governments thrust to eliminate corruption.
Urban planner sues Angaras over Aurora project
Urban planner Felino Palafox took on the Angaras of Aurora province on Tuesday, filing a criminal
complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman against Senator Edgardo Angara for pushing for the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport
Authority (Apeco) despite environmental concerns about the project site.
Palafox also claimed that the senator had a conflict of interest in Apeco as the latter’s
family would benefit from the project, which covers 12,400 hectares.
Also named in the complaint for graft and violation of the code of ethics for government officials
were the Apeco board of directors, which include Angara’s sister, Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, and his
son, Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara.
Senator Angara is also accused of benefiting from the P10-billion Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which has been tainted with irregularities.
Palafox said the officials pushed for the development of the ecozone and ignored his recommendations
about the site, which was prone to flooding.
He alleged that Senator Angara violated the antigraft law, which prohibits a member of Congress
from acquiring or receiving any personal pecuniary interest in any specific business enterprise to be directly favored by
any law or resolution that he had authored and which was approved or adopted by Congress during his term.
The senator was the author of Republic Act No. 9490 creating the Aurora Special Economic Zone
Authority. It was amended in 2010, and a new law created Apeco.
Palafox took to task the father and son for holding positions in Apeco without forfeiting their seats as lawmakers, which
he said violated the Constitution.
ABS-CBN NEWS: Well-known urban planner and architect Felino Palafox Jr. has filed graft and corruption complaints against
Senator Edgardo Angara and 4 others for allowing the creation of the economic and freeport zone in Aurora province in northeastern
Philippines. In a 5-page complaint filed before the Ombudsman, Palafox said Angara allowed the creation of the Aurora Pacific
Economic Zone (Apeco) even if the area was prone to floods and landslides. Included in the complaint are 4 board directors
of the freeport zone.
Angara belies graft rap, hits Palafox
Senator Edgardo Angara lambasted architect Felino Palafox Jr. after the latter accused him of graft in connection with a freeport
zone project in Aurora province in northeastern Philippines. In a statement, Angara said he did not benefit from the planning
of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone as alleged by Palafox. In fact, "if there was anybody that benefitted from the project,
it was Felino Palafox Jr.,...Angara said Palafox asked for a fee of P32 million for the design contract. However, the Philippine
Ports Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel later
deemed the plan sloppy, the senator said. "It was a sloppy piece of design work that proposed a seaport very near an airport.
That shabby piece of architecture would endanger the whole project, according to the agencies that evaluated the technical
and environmental soundness of the Palafox master plan," Angara said. Instead of correcting the design, Palafox "engaged in
an accusing binge after the rejection of his master plan. He called the ecozone project - that was initiated to lift underdeveloped
areas on the coastal areas of Central Luzon into the 21st century - a scam,"
INQUIRER BACKGROUND ARTICLE ON APECO: The Aurora Special Economic Zone
PHILIPPINES SEIZING "RECORD AMOUNTS" OF FAKE GOODS: Philippine authorities are seizing record amounts of fake goods, most
of them from China, showing the government's commitment to enforcing intellectual property rights...In the first eight months
of 2011, over P3.8 billion ($87.7 million) worth of counterfeit products were picked up, 62 percent up from the same period
last year. Seizures of counterfeit goods this year are easily expected to top the record haul of P5.68 billion recorded in
Triple size of Sandiganbayan
courts to speed up graft case resolution
Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, filed bill to increase the number of divisions
of the Sandiganbayan from its present five to 14 divisions to enhance the court's capacity and speed up the disposition of
cases pending in the anti-graft court. "The Sandiganbayan plays a critical role in fighting graft and corruption. Any delay
in the resolution of anti-graft cases negatively impacts on its ability to deter others to commit similar acts of corruption.
The search for a solution to this critical problem of congested dockets requires recourse to drastic but creative and economical
measures," he said. Abaya said that 2,514 graft cases are still pending with the five courts of the Sandiganbayan and the
existing five Sandiganbayan divisions can only handle two hearings for graft cases every two months.
2004 FERTILIZER SCAM MULTIPLIED 10 TIMES?
Senate body uncovers P7.5B in
‘ghost’ farm-market roads
A Senate oversight committee has unearthed records showing that P7.5 billion from the Department of Agriculture was released
from January to June 2010, an election period, Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon said Sunday. Trouble is,
the farm-to-market roads, supposed to be constructed using the money, do not exist.
Philippine president visits US on anti-graft efforts
Philippine President Benigno Aquino will mainly discuss anti-corruption and government transparency efforts in a low-key five-day
visit to the United States, his spokesman said on Sunday..."The trip to the US is primarily an expression of our government's
support for open governance,"..."In fact, the focal department here is not the Department of Foreign Affairs but the Department
of Budget and Management... that's been very, very open about transparency,"
THREE EX-DEFENSE EXECS HIT FOR INACTION ON GARCIA: Three key defense officials of the Arroyo administration have been recommended
for investigation for allegedly sitting on the military courts conviction of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. The
Special Defense Investigation Committee (SDIC) recommended the investigation of former defense chief Norberto Gonzales, former
defense undersecretary for legislative affairs Arturo Lomibao, and former undersecretary for legal affairs Arturo Valenzuela.
Government may have to
return P135M to revive Garcia’s plunder case
The assets worth P135 million that retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia
has turned over to the government may have to be returned if Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ petition to nullify
the plea bargain that allowed his earlier release is granted.
This, according to Sandiganbayan spokesperson Renato Bocar, is
one of two possible scenarios arising from Morales’ move to revive the P303-million plunder case against the former
military comptroller, which was extinguished by the controversial agreement between him and state prosecutors...But the other
possible scenario is for the prosecutors to petition the antigraft court to take custody of the assets while the plunder case
is pending, Bocar said.
MAJOR ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURE
Aquino orders COA, DBM, DOF to automate, integrate
To further improve financial control and accountability
of public funds, President Benigno Aquino III has
ordered the Commission on Audit (COA), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Department of Finance (DOF)
to automate their financial management systems. Executive
Order 55 aims to direct the integration and automation of all government financial management systems to make them more effective.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the directive reflects the importance the President orders promoting transparency,
accountability and good governance.
He said the creation of an integrated financial management information systems
(GIFMIS) provides a transparent and effective way of monitoring the disbursements and appropriation of public funds.
integrated system will, among others, allow greater financial management and control at the oversight and agency levels; ensure
stricter compliance of the budget to appropriation laws; improve Treasury cash management; and facilitate keeping of general
accounts of government and management reporting at various levels of government," Ochoa said.
Ombudsman: Reverse Garcia ruling, try him for
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has asked the anti-graft court to set aside its May 9, 2011 resolution approving the controversial
plea bargain agreement (PBA) on the plunder case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and allow the trial to proceed.
Morales beat the deadline and filed a position paper asking the anti-graft court to reject the controversial plea bargain
agreement on Garcia's plunder case. In the same paper, Morales asked the court to allow the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) to intervene in the case and set aside the ruling that barred the OSG.
re-arrests ex-comptroller Garcia
Military officials announced that former comptroller Carlos P.
Garcia was arrested this morning at his house in Quezon City. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Oban said in a media
forum that Garcia was arrested based on the guilty verdict issued by the military court for the former comptroller's violation
of Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military
Garcia was found guilty of the two Articles of War by the military court
on Dec. 3, 2005. He was sentenced to spend two years in military prison with hard labor and ordered discharged from the service.
His salary and allowances from the military were also ordered forfeited.
Garcia was arrested at 8:30 a.m. for misdeclaration of Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 2002 and 2003.
He was also arrested for being a green card holder or acquiring a permanent residence in the United States while serving in
the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Former Abra municipal officer takes on politically
One brave soul has mustered the courage to bring the powerful Luna
family to court.
Bernadine S. Joson, concurrent secretary to the Sangguniang Bayan
of Lagayan, Abra and until recently municipal planning and development coordinator, filed before the Ombudsman charges of
plunder, graft and corruption, technical malversation, unethical conduct, and violation of the government procurement reform
act against former mayor and congresswoman Cecilia Seares-Luna and her eldest son Jendricks, who is poblacion Lagayan barangay
Also charged were Mayor Purificacion Blaza Paingan, aunt of Cecilia;
Vice Mayor Lara Haya Seares Luna; Marissa G. Donato, relative of the Lunas who is the municipal treasurer; Meno C. Dickenson,municipal
accountant and Osborne P. Dolaoen, municipal engineer.
In the complaint, filed with counsels Harry Roque and Romel Bagares
of Center Law Philippines, Joson said: "The plunder committed by mother and son take together from the years 2003 to 2010
amounts to total of at least Php133,907,142."
Joson’s complaint-affidavit "is a story of how key members
of a political family in a small far-flung, underdeveloped town in Abra, over a period of a little more than a decade, in
the absence of a viable system of checks and balances, has been raiding and plundering the town’s coffers."
This was possible, she said, because during this period and until
now, key members of the family and their cronies controlled key offices of the local government, including the Sangguniang
"It is a story of unmitigated greed of government officials in
a forgotten town where to date, they perpetuate a reign of fear and plunder," Joson said.
She is doing it because she said she wants to put a stop to "insufferable
neglect and indignities" the people of Lagayan (what an apt name for what the Lunas have turned the town into) had borne in
silence all these years...
CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS JOIN FRAY: Fiscal autonomy over funds stressed >>> Heads of constitutional offices asked that the
budget cuts pooled into miscellaneous personnel benefit fund (MPBF) be restored as they asserted the fiscal independence of
their offices as guaranteed by the Constitution. In a letter to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the Constitutional Fiscal
Autonomy Group (CFAG) said they need the funds "in the exigencies of carrying out our respective constitutional tasks." "It
is thus our right and responsibility to assert our fiscal autonomy as envisioned under the Constitution and as enunciated
in various jurisprudence on the matter," the letter dated August 15 said. The letter was signed by Loretta Ann Rosales, chair
of the Commission on Human Rights; Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales; Francisco Duque of the Civil Service Commission; Commission
on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes; Commission on Audit Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan, and noted by Supreme Court administrator
PLUNDER CHARGES FILED AGAINST DEPUTY SPEAKER, FAMILY: Plunder and graft charges were filed yesterday against House Deputy
Speaker Arnulfo P. Fuentebella (4th district, Camarines Sur) for allegedly diverting P80 million worth of government funds
to finance personal projects. Also charged were Mr. Fuentebella's wife, who is mayor of Sagnay town in Camarines Sur; and
sons, mayor of Tigaon town and commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. Mr. Villafuerte accused the Fuentebellas
of violating the Plunder Law, when they allegedly amassed ill-gotten wealth by "misappropriating, misusing and malversing
public funds, benefited from government contracts, illegally conveyed government assets, and enriched themselves at the expense
of the government."
Solons seek accounting of Malampaya
Senators on Thursday demanded a full accounting of some P100 billion in allegedly missing revenue that the government earned
from the Malampaya gas project in Palawan province. "We should do something about it. It's mind-boggling that there's P100
billion missing," said Sen. Ralph Recto, chair of the ways and means committee.