MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III wants "big fish" jailed in his pursuit of freeing the country from corrupt practices and further strengthening business climate in the Philippines.
"I want the biggest fish to be inside, incarcerated," Aquino said in an interview with Bloomberg, adding he won't be satisfied until these so-called "big fish" have been put in the country's main prison, the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Despite already being arrested on graft charges, former president and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd district) is still among those Aquino wants to be imprisoned.
"The person who I replaced is one of the biggest fish," Aquino said.
He further said officials at the bureaus of customs, immigration and corrections are next on his list once the upcoming elections have been completed.
"After the elections, there will be something that will be done... We have to fine-tune the civil service system also, so you don’t have an attitude that once you are granted civil service, it is practically impossible for you to be disciplined," Aquino said.
Last year, former Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted from his post for not declaring his wealth on his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Aquino, who ran with a campaign battle cry of "kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap" (If there is no corruption, there is no poverty), is pursuing his anti-corruption drive hand in hand with reforms to sustain the country's economic growth.
The Philippines, which saw its economy expand by a faster-than-expected 6.6 percent last year, still suffer from a relatively high unemployment rate as compared with other countries in Asia-Pacific and an unchanged poverty level since 2006.
Even with the investment-grade ratings recently awarded to the Philippines, a stock market that has been continuously hitting peaks and a very strong peso, Aquino said the country may not have completely done away with being the "sick man of Asia."
He admitted the administration will have to do a lot more to sustain the recent economic gains the country has seen.
"We’ll have to be able to prove that this is not cyclical, or a temporary aberration... We’ll have to be able to do it year in, year out," Aquino said.
"If they (parents, former senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and former president Corazon Aquino) were to talk to me face to face, they would say: ‘It’s not enough, you have to go higher than what you have achieved,’ and I agree with them," he added.