MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday touted the gains achieved by the Philippines in fighting corruption under his administration.
Speaking before parliamentarians from some 78 countries attending the Global Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) conference Thursday, Aquino said the Philippines for the past three years has shown its resolve in fighting corruption, with the ouster of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and the filing of a plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"The Filipino people have no doubt taken huge strides towards establishing a culture of fairness and accountability when no less than the former president was charged with plunder, among other things. Our own chief justice of the Supreme Court was stripped of his position when found to have lied about more than 98% of his cash assets," Aquino told the delegates at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Aquino, however, said stamping out corruption in government takes more than ousting a corrupt official. He said "structural reform" achieved through legislation is key.
"The problem of corruption must thus be approached strategically, always with the long term in mind. Reforms cannot be mere blips in the radar. They must usher in an enduring mainstream of good, honest governance," he said.
"While policy formulation can at time be a complex matter, the overarching idea behind our efforts is simple – to put the people in front and at the center in any agenda and to go back to the basics of public service. In short - to do the right thing.
Aquino cited several measures that various government agencies have adopted under his administration.
One of his examples was the ability of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to save over P200 million in a project. He said this was achieved through proper bidding and thorough negotiation.
He also mentioned the Department of Justice, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as among the agencies that installed internal mechanisms to police themselves.
In terms of transparency, Aquino cited the Deparment of Budget and Management and the Department of Finance's "Budget ng Bayan" and "Pera ng Bayan" websites, respectively.
"These websites allow citizens to access info about how the government is spending their money and to report corrupt officials from the DOF and attached agencies," he said.
The president also touted the DBM's zero-based budgeting, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government's adoption of the full-disclosure policy for all local government units.
The GOPAC conference formally began yesterday and will end on February 2. At least 429 members of parliament from various countries are attending the conference.
Local speakers will include Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who will speak about enforcing anti-corruption measures, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council of the Philippines' Teresita Herbosa, who will discuss anti-money laundering and bank secrecy laws. – with Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News