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Wrap up jueteng investigation - Angara

Manila (7 October) -- In a recent on-air interview, Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on his fellow legislators to wrap up the on-going jueteng investigations so that the matter may be finally settled. He said that the increasing clamor from the public should prompt them to commit to concrete actions and to punish those accountable.

"In my opinion, we need to finish the Senate jueteng investigations as soon as possible. Nobody wants such a big investigation to grow cold," he said.

Angara, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, stressed that as public figures, they must retain their authority and credibility in these kinds of controversial situations.

"We must break from the public perception that legislators keep on launching investigations but never get around to finishing them. Otherwise, our credibility and authority are diminished in the eyes of the public to whom we owe our mandate," he stressed.

Angara confirmed that certain provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) must be amended as soon as possible to provide room for the investigating agencies to conduct their operations. One clause in particular?which requires the authorities to inform the suspected parties of the investigation?has constantly hindered them from making arrests.

"Yes, we should amend these provisions immediately if we want results from the authorities. But we must advise them after the investigation has started?after we have taken the precautionary measures: having their accounts closed, a stop-order for their illegal operations?so they can't get rid of the proceeds and evidence of the crime," he explained.

According to Angara, these accusations are difficult to investigate so the role of witnesses is crucial.

"Bribery is one of the most difficult crimes to prove unless there is a credible whistleblower who would testify. In this case, not just any ordinary man has come forward, but a man of the cloth, an archbishop. That, in large part, already speaks about his credibility and that of his claims," he said.

Angara, head of the South East Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption, or SEAPAC that convened recently in Manila, compares the justice system with those from the neighboring countries.

"In other countries, even without formal criminal or administrative action, those accused in such high-profile cases voluntarily step down or submit themselves to investigation."

"The good thing about the UNCAC, yung United Nations Convention Against Corruption which the Philippines ratified in 2006, is that they won't be able to hide gambling proceeds anywhere in the world because the officials are well aware of their duty to turn over the illegal funds," he explained. SEAPAC is currently pushing for the ratification of the UNCAC in all member countries in Southeast Asia." (COMSTE) [top]

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