Press Release
June 23, 2006

Corruption can be quashed only in a democracy,
Drilon tells visiting liberal leaders

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon underscored that fighting corruption can only be effective in a democracy, where accountability is mandatory for public officials and where there is a strong and independent judiciary and a resolute and vigilant media.

"In my country, corruption is the root of bad governance. Indeed, to assert that corruption harms Philippine society is an understatement. Corruption robs our children and generations yet unborn of a bright future. It deprives people of choices," Drilon said.

Drilon made the statement during the dinner tendered last Thursday at the Dusit Hotel in Makati for over 100 international Liberal leaders who are in the Philippines for the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD)-Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)-Liberal International (LI) Meeting in Manila, Cavite and Tagaytay from June 22 to June 24. Drilon is the chairman of CALD.

"Bad governance, the root of all economic ills can be squarely addressed only in a democracy because of the presence of institutions and legal environment that make governments and corporations accountable," Drilon said.

Drilon also noted that corruption has impeded Philippine economic development, forcing over eight million Filipinos, or nearly 10% of the entire Philippine population, to migrate to almost every corner of the globe, looking for jobs which the economy cannot provide.

In his speech, Drilon called on authoritarian governments across the globe "not to hide under the cloak of economic progress to justify authoritarianism," adding that economic success does not necessarily translate to political success.

"People, regardless of race, color, creed or ethos, aspire for democratic space and right to political _expression," Drilon said.

Drilon also appealed to democratic leaders to collectively promote democracy and to support those who are suffering political persecution because of their relentless fight for democracy and freedom in their home country.

"Friends, there are vibrant democracies in Asia. And there are countries where voices calling for an end to political persecution have been silenced through intimidation, harassment and even bullets," he added.

Drilon also took note of the fact that strong adherence to democracy in most parts of the world had spurred technological advancement and free flow of information and created an environment conducive for human development before the last century ended.

"I submit that democracy has its share of economic political and social tensions and democratic space is always packed with risks and threats. However, of these I am certain: in a democracy, the civil and political liberties of the people are promoted and protected by democratic institutions. In a democracy, the will of the governed, is the bedrock of a strong and credible government," Drilon said.

He also warned that in the midst of human security threats, many democracies are facing the dilemma of balancing the promotion of civil and political liberties as against the higher interest of upholding the survival of the state.

"I submit that democracy in my country is still a work in progress. While constitutional safeguards are in place to prevent the resurgence of an authoritarian regime, we need to embark on bureaucratic and political reforms. We need to strengthen our judicial system. We need to undertake electoral reforms in order to promote and preserve the integrity and credibility of the electoral exercise," Drilon said.

This year's meeting of Liberal leaders focuses on issues concerning, migration, population and the globalization of labor. During the Thursday morning opening ceremonies held at the Philippine International Convention Center, former President Corazon Aquino was the keynote speaker.

Among the prominent Liberal leaders present are The Lord Alderdice, President of the Liberal International and member of the British Parliament, Member of the European Parliament Graham Watson, who is also ALDE leader; Dr. Wolfgang Gerhart, former leader of the German Liberal Party and current Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Chair; former International Labor Organization (ILO) Chairman Chung Eui-yong, MP and Dr. Yoo Jay Kun, MP of the ruling Uri Party of Korea; Malaysian Senator Dr. S. Vijayaratnam; Italian MEP Lappo Pistelli; and MP Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodian National Opposition and President of the Cambodian Sam Rainsy Party.

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