MANILA – Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to focus on structural reforms in government and not just the creation of an ad hoc task force in fighting corruption.
The chief executive should strengthen accountability institutions and executive agencies such as the Ombudsman and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) by expanding their powers in the government’s anti-corruption drive, she told ANC’s “Matters of Fact”.
“Ito ‘yung mga pangunahing dapat talaga palakasin, hindi i-undermine at hayaang makapagtrabaho in a collaborative fashion with each other,” Hontiveros said.
(Strengthening them should be prioritized, not undermined at let them work in a collaborative fashion with each other.)
Hontiveros said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is up to the task of leading the government’s anti-corruption efforts, noting that the justice department has been very cooperative in investigating corrupt practices in the Bureau of Immigration.
“Therefore, I'm reassured we have a true ally, a strong ally in Secretary Gueverra as he takes on this additional role in our relentless drive vs corruption.”
Duterte said Monday he issued a memorandum directing the justice department to look into anomalies at state agencies until the end of his term in 2022. It gives the ministry the power to decide what allegations to investigate and to work with other agencies.
His administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drugs enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations.
While the senator welcomed the President’s order of a sweeping investigation into graft in all government agencies, she questioned the timing of the probe. Rooting out corruption was among Duterte’s campaign promises when he won the presidency, she said.
“Well, indeed, why only now… that was a campaign promise of the President to stamp out corruption a long 4 years ago during the campaign,” she said.
“Ika nga the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Dito sa pudding na pangakong anti-corruption na 4 taon na... talaga bang nababawasan ang corruption o ito ay nagpapatuloy o kaya ay nadagdagan pa (Has corruption lessened or is still continuing or has increased)? So no excuses, ika nga sa Office of the President, the bucks stops there. So how serious is he? Maniniwala ako sa resulta (I will only believe in the results). The results are not very promising,” she said.
The Philippines fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index last year. – With a report from Reuters