Press Release
August 8, 2006


Despite the infusion of more funds into the anti-corruption campaign and the enactment of new laws against graft, they will yield only negligible results as long as the people running the government lack the political will to stamp out the problem, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said.

Addressing a delegation of Cambodian parliamentarians at the Senate, Pimentel said while money is needed perhaps to oil the anti-corruption machinery of the country, it is not the primordial factor in the drive against this social malaise.

He also said that the Philippines has more than enough laws to combat corruption.

What is lacking in the government drive against corruption is the political will of the officials in government starting from the president down to the lowliest implementor of the laws on the land to execute the laws against corruption without fear or favor, the senator from Mindanao said.

If the government is to lick the corruption problem, Pimentel said the political leaders, starting from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, must show by deed, and not only by word, that she does not tolerate corruption.

If the leaders are clean, pressure is exerted on their followers by their example to be clean in their dealings also, the minority leader said. If the followers see that their leaders are corrupt, they are encouraged to follow the bad example of the lives of the latter.

Pimentel said that while administration officials reacted with joy at United States governments grant of about P1 billion for the anti-corruption drive in the country, he viewed it as a source of embarrassment because it announced to the world that corruption is a fact of life in the country.

Embarrassment because it proclaims to the world that as a government, we are unable to combat corruption by ourselves. Embarrassment because it assumes that it is more money that the government needs to fight corruption successfully. Embarrassment because it suggests that what a learned man once said is true: that corruption in government succeeds only if the culture of a people allows it, he said.

He said the country has an impressive array of laws that penalize corruption: Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Revised Penal Code articles specifically on bribery and malversation, the Anti-Plunder Law, the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the law that requires public officials to file annual Statements of Assets and Liabilities, the e-procurement act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the law mandating the forfeiture of unlawfully acquired property.

Pimentel also cited the constitutional provision that defines public office as a public trust and requires public servants to live frugal lives and to act with transparency in the discharge of their duties.

And yet, the records of the various administrations that have run this country are, to put it diplomatically, dismal on the matter of combating corruption, he said.

Pimentel said corruption reared its ugly head when public officials not only stole taxpayers money but also the elections to stay in power. Up to this moment, he said these officials are still able to thumb their noses at the people with impunity.

Up to this moment, we see millions of government fertilizer funds intended to assist the farmers disappear into the pockets of bureaucrats and some politicians in 2004. The ones responsible are still roaming free either here or seeking asylum elsewhere, he said.

Up to this moment, we see tainted deals entered into some years back to automate our election process. And the officials responsible to this very day are making pious pronouncements of their innocence from their air-conditioned government offices.

Up to this moment, we see billions of trust funds of our overseas workers inexplicably disappear from public view as if the magician Houdini dipped his hand into the funds. This is very sad because the money is needed to evacuate our 30,000 overseas workers stranded in Lebanon.

News Latest News Feed