Some speeches and articles that present the situation over the past decade
CORAZON AQUINO: "CORRUPTION IS OUR
Speech delivered during the Combatting Corruption Conference on September 21, 2004
Let me start by congratulating the Makati Business Club; the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines and its social action arm, NASSA; the Coalition of Development NGOs; the National Citizens
Movement for Free Elections; Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference, and the Transparency and Accountability Network for starting
this movement today.
This Coalition Against Corruption is a movement whose time has finally come. It is a movement
which I wish we had all started with great fervor many, many years ago.
Corruption has become our cancer. Left untreated
for so long, it has grown like a tumor spreading through the body of our society and tearing at and eating away the muscle
and tissue of a nation. Left unattended, it has spread to the far reaches of our country, directly and indirectly affecting
many sectors of society, regardless of age and religion, social status or gender. And whether one is directly participating
in it and involved in its machinations or one is merely victimized by its effects, it has become a blight on us all.
treatment of cancer requires radical procedures and drastic changes in lifestyle. It starts with early detection. Just as
small tumors grow to larger ones, little and early indiscretions have a nasty habit of becoming bigger scandals in the future.
Unless identified and excised at an early stage, corruption too will grow until it has become so embedded in a system that
its removal becomes a threat to the very system it feeds on. Beyond its initial removal, its treatment requires medication
and attention to prevent its return and spread. It requires constant monitoring and screening to check for its return. For
many patients, this becomes a way of life, a routine difficult to accept at first but acceptable nonetheless in the face of
alternatives. It requires patience and commitment and, above all, discipline, to live these changes on a daily basis.
is the way we must treat the cancer that is corruption. We must engage in early detection. No infraction should be considered
too small or too early to be insignificant. The petty briber today may be tomorrow’s influence-peddler. The cutthroat
entrepreneur who cuts corners and bends rules today may be tomorrow’s tax evader. Today’s minor infraction at
the street comer or curbside may be tomorrow’s case of grand larceny.
After detection, we must move quickly to
isolate and remove the source of cancer. Infractions should be penalized appropriately and immediately, regardless of one’s
status in life. Beyond criminal charges, there should be administrative means to deal with this disease in the public and
private sector to arrest its growth, isolate it, and stamp it out. But beyond all of that, we should exercise our common-sense
and our old-world sense of community and national values to ostracize instead of lionize those who have made a success of
themselves through corrupt practices. We need to regain and re-learn the good, old-fashioned ethics of hard work, honesty,
and integrity to succeed in life rather than practice the ethics of lagay to get ahead. We need to recapture the sense of
pride in an honest day’s work and defeat the notion that success can come only to the corrupt. We need to believe once
again - and practice - not the corrupted values of tax evasion, price-padding, and under delivery of public goods, but the
Filipino values of honesty, industry, and community. These were the values I am sure we were all taught as children by our
parents, teachers, Church, and elders.
Even after’ early detection and removal, constant screening and monitoring
is necessary because corruption, like cancer, may come back and attack a different organ. This requires discipline and persistence,
something we Filipinos are not always good at. While we are said to be at our best in moments of crisis, our passion, fervor,
and commitment are not always maintained at peak levels- when situations become less critical. Yet it is at those moments
when our vigilance drops that corruption returns to attack us all once again. We cannot live constantly in a state of crisis
just as we should not awaken only from crisis to crisis. Instead, we need to maintain constant vigilance with periodic and
systematic checks to see how our vital signs are performing. To do this, we will need to shift our paradigm of time and sense
of urgency from crisis management to proactive preventive care. We will need to redefine our notion of People Power.
have believed in People Power for a long time, not simply in its political dimension as we have seen it exercised but in its
social and economic dimensions as I continue to see it carried out on a daily basis by people and organizations. It is a power
harnessed by people pulling in one direction, with a common vision and common goal. It is a power built by the accumulation
of many small efforts which add up to a sum far greater than the total of its parts. And it is a power which takes a life
of its own and becomes larger than you and me. It is a legacy. It is a beacon which I hope future generations will look to
for guidance and direction.
But like all beacons, it needs to be re-energized from time to time so people get
the sense of revisiting and reliving its original meaning. Like the Olympic torch which is passed from person to person across
boundaries of race and religion, we too must pass our torch and touch others so that we all eventually share a common value
of what we want this country to be. Our torch is People Power and our battle is corruption.
For the last several years,
I have personally witnessed how People Power has transformed people’s lives and united communities through the quest
for the common good. Through the People Power People Movement which I launched last year on the 20th death anniversary of
Ninoy, I have seen how people banding together can channel their energies and bring about change against all odds. Discipline,
cooperation, and belief in themselves and their vision were their common hallmarks.
Today, I salute all of you for
coming together and joining forces to exercise People Power against one of the greatest social ills of our time - corruption.
Your move is timely for many of our people have become more cynical about governance and about nationhood. Let us just bear
in mind that every movement for fundamental change can only prosper if it begins with the self. Over a century ago, our esteemed
heroes emphasized the need for kalinisan ng loob (purity of self) in every patriot for the emergent Filipino nation to earn
their redemption as a free people. Today, let us demand of ourselves no lower standard.
The roots of corruption run
deep, for the scourge is embedded in our culture. Unfortunately, before we Filipinos were introduced to democracy, a warped
colonial upbringing ingrained in us the concept of government as a means to enrich oneself and to dispense patronage. We have
to change the paradigm. Before looking elsewhere, let us make sure that we pay the correct taxes and that we are above board
in all our dealings and actions. That would give us the moral right to demand from government transparency, accountability
and the political will to prosecute tax evaders, smugglers and those who disgrace public service. Falling short of these,
we risk further loss of faith in public institutions, deeper erosion of values, and the exacerbation of the cynicism, despair
and mutual distrust that shackle our nation. That would mean resigning ourselves, tragically, to corruption as a way of life.
is the magnitude of your mission, and I urge you to steel yourselves for the long battle ahead. Your challenge will be to
keep the beacon lit, to pass the torch across sectors and through generations to show that there are people who still care
about this country to stand up and do something about it. Your challenge will be to enlarge your group beyond your already
formidable alliance because this battle will be won only by the positive energy of a critical mass pitted against the numbers
who either benefit from corruption or are merely resigned to it. As in all genuine People Power phenomena, I believe the combination
of the just cause and public support will win when powered by discipline, passion, commitment, cooperation, and trust and
faith in each other.
In carrying out your mission, you will be hit by many detractors, some of them may even be your
friends. They may say that your projects aren’t big enough or bold enough. They may say you are too naive. They may
say nothing can be done. Listen politely but do not let them discourage you. The power of People Power is the accumulation
of small, seemingly insignificant victories; fought on many fronts, until it forms a pattern, eventually a habit, and ultimately
a value for all to share and cherish. The battle against corruption will not be won overnight or by a single case. It will
be won through constant vigilance and the courage to do what is right.
Fight the right battles, analyze the defeats,
and celebrate all your victories so people will know that they are not alone in the war against corruption. I am proud to
stand with you in your courageous battle, and I call on all concerned Filipinos to give of their time, their talent, and their
resources and be part of this, our coalition and our crusade against corruption! I have no doubt that, as a united People,
we will prevail! Thank you.
THE STATUS OF
COMBATING CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
By Simeon V. Marcelo, Ombudsman
May, 2005 (Extract)
It is evident, therefore, that two (2) primary things should be done:
First, the government must invest massive resources in anti-corruption initiatives. Its current
budgetary support to anti-corruption initiatives must not only be sustained, but also increase steadily and drastically, and
snow-ball as more inroads are made against graft and corruption. As earlier discussed, the "lock opener", in our currently
difficult situation, and carefully considering the "limits and possibilities of governance in the country", is simply a massive re-channeling of focus, priority and resources to anti-corruption reform
initiatives. It must be stressed, however, that while there has been a substantial increase in the Office’s 2005 Budget,
i.e., about P140 Million, the foregoing discussion inevitably
leads to the conclusion that much more is needed. Hong Kong ICAC’s annual budget of about $90 Million or P4.94
Billion easily comes to mind.
Re-channeling of resources should also include the enactment
of legislative reforms in the Sandiganbayan enumerated earlier. Indeed, as already observed, the initial partnership between
the government and the private sector had proven very effective and fruitful. From this collaboration, more graft and corruption
can be unearthed and more cases are expected to be filed. This progress must, however, flow through the prosecution stage
which has been observed and described as slow-grinding. To be truly effective, therefore, our anti-corruption campaign must
include the efficient and speedy resolution of cases by the courts. There is, therefore, a need for the passage of the pertinent
bills rationalizing and streamlining further the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and drastically increasing the number of
justices and divisions in the Sandiganbayan to ensure the swifter resolution of corruption cases through continuous trial.
The importance and indispensability of this reform is
confirmed by the analysis of Mr. Tony Kwok himself:
"… any successful fight against corruption
must start with effective enforcement and successful prosecution on major targets, so as to demonstrate to the public the
government’s determination to fight corruption at all costs."
both the government and the private sector must earnestly help each other in fighting graft and corruption. Government, considering
its lack of resources, should, as much as it can, allow the greatest latitude for private sector participation in procurement
and governance. Further, the government should be able to recognize and tap ready and available private sector resources,
organizations and structures that can be re-cast and used in the fight against graft and corruption. Thus, great efforts should
be exerted by the government to convince private citizens and civil society organizations that they should not content themselves
with just being able to complain or criticize the government: more importantly, they should make themselves part of pro-active
and concrete anti-corruption initiatives and programs.
This active and fruitful collaboration with the
private sector and civil society organizations can best be realized through the mechanism provided under the GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT REFORM ACT, which allows the active involvement of our private citizens
in the procurement process, either as observers in the bids and awards committees, or as monitors in the implementation of
awarded contracts. Indeed, the GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT REFORM ACT is a very potent
vehicle to prevent corruption in the procurement process - snuffing out its life before it even starts. In the words of its
Senate sponsor, Senator Angara:
"And while we may not be able to fight graft and corruption
at all levels, we are nevertheless in the best position to nip its greatest bloom in the bud…"
Clearly, a combined, parallel or even complementary
anti-corruption initiatives in the private and public sectors is indispensable – a partnership best illustrated in a
But we don’t need surveys to tell us corruption
is bad. Everyone knows this, and have known it since time immemorial. The equally age-old question in the light of this perennial
observation is, why aren’t inroads being made in the fight against corruption? Tony Kwok, former deputy commissioner
of the Hong Kong Commission Against Corruption, has come forward with the clearest reason. Speaking during a recent anti-corruption
workshop, Kwok said, "I am confident that given the effective enforcement and successful prosecution by the [Office of the
Ombudsman] and the partnership approach in this corruption prevention project, it is possible that this three-year project
will see a marked improvement in the eradication of corruption in this country."
The key word in his statement is not a call for political will –
which is, indeed required, but not enough – but the concept of partnership.
...What emerges, therefore, is the indispensability of a holistic,
strategic and even complementary approach to anti-corruption. A complete expeditious cycle of efficient corruption prevention,
detection, successful prosecution and swift judicial resolution is indispensable if only to make whole, effective and lasting
any anti-corruption reform initiated. Thus, a graft-free society is still possible. But only if the government will commit
massive resources and widen, to the greatest extent possible, private sector participation; and if the private sector: citizens,
groups and organizations, will actively commit their talents and resources to concrete anti-corruption initiatives.
at the Marriott Hotel, Pasay City, on September 14, 2011]
morning. Please sit down.
Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.; Chief Justice Renato Corona; Mr. Ramon del Rosario; Mr. Hubert d’Aboville; Mr. Felino Palafox,
Jr.; Mr. Edilberto de Jesus; Ms. Marife Zamora; members of the Cabinet present, namely, Secretary Purisima, Secretary Singson,
Secretary Baldoz, Secretary Domingo, Secretary Abad; COMELEC Commissioner Gus Lagman; Representatives from the international
organizations, local government units, NGOs, and the business sector; fellow workers in government; honored guests; mga minamahal
ko pong kababayan:
umaga po sa inyong lahat.
am happy to be with all of you today to encourage all of you to participate in the Integrity Initiative. As you know, integrity
was one of the battle cries of my campaign; and for the past 15 months, we have taken that battle cry to heart—working
to foster a culture of integrity in government. In this regard, I am proud to announce that we have made some progress.
have been able to appoint people of unquestioned ability and integrity to important posts in government—from Leila de
Lima as Secretary of Justice, Grace Tan and Heidi Mendoza to the Commission on Audit, to Conchita Carpio-Morales as our Ombudsman.
has likewise shaped our budgeting process, which has saved our taxpayers billions of pesos simply by cutting funding for wasteful
projects and putting the money to where it will benefit Filipinos the most. Efficient spending has allowed us to allocate
a larger chunk of the budget to social services and defense, two sectors that have, for so long, lacked sufficient resources.
Department of Budget and Management has also taken initiative in fostering this culture of transparency. In the 2011 National
Budget, for example, there were provisions that mandated all national departments and agencies to publish important budget
information and finance and performance indicators on their respective websites. In the same vein, the Department of Interior
and Local Government also made significant changes, requiring all Local Government Units to disclose, on local bulletin boards,
newspapers, and websites, how they spent their funds.
have also been trying to enjoin the citizenry to take a more active role in governance. This year, we had six national government
agencies and three government corporations start a consultative budget preparation process, allowing us to engage civil society
organizations in preparing the 2012 National Budget. We also created a layman’s version of the 2011 National Budget
so that more people can understand how the government is spending their money. The Department of Finance launched a
website called Pera ng Bayan, through which common citizens can file anonymous reports or leads on possible tax evasion,
government collusion, or smuggling operations. All of these we have done to promote integrity.
instilling a culture of integrity in government is only one aspect of the equation. We must also foster the same culture in
the private sector, and this is why what you are doing today is most important.
part in the Integrity Initiative cannot be measured immediately in pesos and centavos, but its benefits will eventually redound
to everyone. For example, it is said that companies who engage in Corporate Social Responsibility, who have track records
for integrity and competence, and who abide by the highest standards are valued at a premium in the stock market. Companies
who have a reputation for running their businesses in a clean and efficient manner enjoy the confidence of investors, debtors,
and other stakeholders as opposed to those who run questionable operations. To put it simply: by doing your part as responsible
corporations, everybody wins—and by everybody I mean not just you as corporate workers, but you as taxpayers, as family
men and women, and as citizens of this country.
these are contained in your Unified Code of Conduct for Business, which I hope everyone will take extremely seriously. I know
how hard it is, sometimes, to uphold these standards. There are times when it must seem impossible to navigate your way through
the bureaucracy without being tempted to take a shortcut or to offer a bribe.
simple example is paying taxes. It can be so tempting to pay the collector a fraction of what you owe in taxes instead of
the proper amount. Since we assumed office, we have worked on improving our tax administration efforts, and one of the things
we have done, is run after tax evaders, smugglers, and corrupt government officials. Since July 2010, a total of 61 tax evasion
cases and 43 smuggling cases have been filed with claims totaling around 26 billion pesos and 54 billion pesos, respectively.
As we continue to monitor these cases, I am happy to report that our campaign against tax evaders and smugglers is paying
off. From January to July this year, revenues collected already increased by 13.47 percent year-on-year.
how much money has been lost over the years—taxes that could have gone to social services, infrastructure, debt reduction,
or national defense. In the past, perhaps you could have justified not paying taxes by saying it would have been used to fatten
the wallets of corrupt officials. But as we strive to show you that this is no longer the case, I hope we can urge our fellow
citizens to pay their share of taxes.
we continue fixing what is wrong with government, I urge you to stand alongside us and do your part. This will not be easy,
but if we work on it—if we choose not to shirk our responsibilities as individuals—then everybody will get the
message and act fast and accordingly.
me remind you that our collective desire to instill integrity into our respective communities does not end with a pledge of
integrity. We are now obliged to live up to this pledge.
week I will be in the United States for some very important meetings. I was invited by President Obama, among others, to talk
about Open Governance; and I will be proud to tell him, as well as the representatives of several other countries, how in
the Philippines, the effort for integrity in governance—the effort for creating a transparent relationship between the
people and their government—is one that is shared by the government and the private sector. I would like to thank all
of you for your participation, and I am hopeful that you can all follow through on your respective commitments. This is the
first ever Integrity Summit, but I hope to see even more participants from the private sector when the second one comes around.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH, 2011 ·
Last of Four Parts
FOUR anti-graft czars and 22 years since its birth on Nov. 17, 1989, the Office of the Ombudsman
of the Philippines has failed to strike fear in the hearts of crooks, or summon full respect from the people it is supposed
to protect against crooks.
All four chiefs of the Office...had launched their stints as the nation’s top graft-busters
with firm, elaborate, hopeful reforms to fight corruption.
When the criticisms trickled in – invariably over low conviction rates, perceived partiality
toward the presidents who appointed them, and sheer failure to cope with tremendous case loads and hail crooks to jail –
all four trudged on. What they ended serving up, though, were not more and better results, but more excuses...Criticisms
and public censure, in fact, seem to have become par for the course for the Office and its head. But perception is one thing,
reality is another.
Partner organizations in this website while it was
actively publishing news excerpts:
Ehem -- the anti-corruption initiative
of the Philippine Jesuits echoes the urgent call for cultural reform against corruption in the Philippines. Ehem
aims at bringing people to a renewed sensitivity to the evil of corruption and its prevalence in ordinary life. It seeks ultimately
to make them more intensely aware of their own vulnerability to corruption, their own uncritiqued, often unwitting practice
of corruption in daily life. Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical
of corruption, intent on integrity!
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and the academe.
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corruption by seeking synergies between Government of the Republic of
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