Noynoy warns foreigners vs Arroyo gov't contracts

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 22 2010 04:18 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2010 12:18 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The frontrunner to become the next Philippine president Thursday urged foreign governments to sign no new contracts with President Gloria Arroyo's outgoing administration, branding it corrupt.

Liberal Party candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is the clear leader in opinion polls to win the May 10 presidential election, said he intended to establish a system to eradicate massive graft he alleged was involved in awarding government contracts.

"In this regard, we call upon suppliers and representatives of foreign governments to refrain from entering into 11th-hour contracts with this outgoing administration," Aquino said in a speech in Manila.

"If such midnight deals are concluded just the same, they must all be subjected to the strictest scrutiny and immediately be rescinded whenever warranted."

Aquino's speech focused on security issues and he said the nation's defense department had embarked on a questionable P300 billion ($6.7 billion) spending spree in the past two months.

"All of these things will be subject to scrutiny," he said.

"Obviously, those that are seriously injurious to the public should be stopped and we will find the legal means to do so."

Aquino said "endemic corruption" was causing major harm to the nation's defence institutions. "Every peso stolen from the budget of our security organizations represents a drop of blood of our soldiers, airmen, sailors and police officers who risk their lives in the service of our nation," he said.

President Arroyo is required by constitutional term limits to step down on June 30, ending 10 years in power that her critics allege has been been plagued by massive corruption.

A survey released by polling firm Pulse Asia in February said 68 percent of Filipinos distrusted Arroyo.

Global graft watchdog Transparency International ranks the Philippines one of the most corrupt countries in the world.