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PIA Press Release

Cebu is in fighting mood against corruption

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu, Philippines (21 March) -- Cebu was in a fighting mood against corruption recently as more than 6,000 unexpected turnout joined the march to launch the national anti-corruption program of action (NACPA) that was initiated by the Ombudsman in Central Visayas.

Tanodbayan Mercedita Gutierrez with members of the executive department and the judiciary led the anti-graft road show that started from the Provincial Capitol to the Cebu City Sports Complex.

Employees of the Ombudsman-7; members of the multi-sectoral anti-corruption council; delegations from the youth, government units, NGOs, anti-graft advocates, professional organization, civil society, inter-faith groups and the media also joined the march.

Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol in a briefing told the media that the NACPA aims to raise awareness that there is a strong partnership between the government and private sectors in relentlessly fighting the menace of corruption.

It also wants to show that there are many good and honest people in government that have committed to push for reforms in the bureaucracy to eradicate graft and corruption, Apostol said.

He further said that there appears to be a fragmented action against corruption and there is no unified evaluation system or mechanism that would determine whether government efforts are working.

That answers why private survey groups can just publish their results without being challenged by government due to lack of a unified and comprehensive report on anti-corruption program accomplishments, Apostol said.

Tanodbayan Gutierrez in her speech on the other hand said, there is a need to coordinate all anti-graft efforts and initiatives of both the government and the private sectors and these must be reported in a convergence. "The Multi-sectoral Anti-corruption Council (MSACC) is the convergence," Gutierrez added.

In similar developments, the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG) also launched recently a book entitled "Dissecting Corruption, The Philippine Perspective."

In his speech, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena said that for corruption to be kept ay bay, school children should be taught to fight it.

"Anti-corruption drives in the country are often not sustained because Filipinos mistakenly believe it can be wiped out. You cannot eliminate corruption, but like the presence of cockroaches, housekeeping may reduce cockroaches in your homes," the mayor added.

Bobby Tuazon, director of CENPEG however said there is still hope in ending corruption in the country but only if people make it as a part of their collective struggle for social and political change.

Tuazon noted that anti-corruption watchers in government fell below public's high expectations of their capability and speed in solving graft cases.

He cited records from the Sandiganbayan and Ombudsman that only 27 conviction cases had been issued out of 79,000 complaints lodged before their offices in the last 27 years.

Earlier, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo created the Procurement Transparency Group that is composed f the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group.

Representatives from the civil society groups and church representatives are also part of the transparency group that will be there from the start to the end of the procurement process to guarantee transparency.

According to deputy presidential spokesman Dr. Anthony Golez, the Procurement Transparency Group is one of the anti-corruption measures instituted by government to ensure reforms in the country.

Golez added that another measure to counter corruption was to increase the budget of the Ombudsman that would triple the number of prosecutors and investigators at the Ombudsman and SandiganBayan.

With the increase in numbers of investigators and prosecutors, prosecution rate at the Ombudsman went up from 6 percent to 60 percent while the Sandiganbayan prosecution rate also rose up to 87 percent, Golez reported.

Golez added that "no matter how good the anti-corruption system is, but the system will not work if people chose to be corrupt." (PIA-Cebu) [top]

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