The four-letter word that can beat corruption

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Ricardo Saludo

Ricardo Saludo

How can ordinary Filipinos help President Rodrigo Duterte beat corruption for good?

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In his message on Monday’s Black Nazarene procession, he extolled the Filipino’s untiring faith and unrelenting fight against injustice and corruption. Duterte now needs both to win against sleaze for good.

Last Thursday’s column presented the problem he and the nation face in fighting crooks: While a courageous leader can suppress crime and corruption cabals for several years, once he or she goes, lawbreakers resume their nefarious schemes — unless the citizenry is mobilized to sustain the war on graft.

Plus: The anti-corruption Office of the Ombudsman sorely lacks graftbusters. In 2010, the OMB had about 75 prosecutors and 150 field investigators. Even if one doubled them, the agency would have a mere 450 integrity sentinels watching 1.5 million people in the public sector, including the uniformed services.

With that ratio of one investigator or prosecutor for every 3,300 state personnel, most sleaze slips through, making corruption a high-reward, low-risk game many can’t resist.

To deploy one graftbuster for every 100 public servants — about the ratio for Hong Kong’s feared Independent Commission Against Corruption — the OMB would need 15,000 crook-catchers. But good luck getting lawmakers to budget money for that.

And that assumes the Ombudsman and his or her charges resist political pressures and inducements. In fact, there are instances of the OMB ignoring anomalies of a given administration, while fast-tracking cases against the regime’s adversaries.

Just think of those tanim-bala extortionists never held accountable, or the schemers who let more than 2,000 uninspected and untaxed cargo containers get lost in 2011. Even investigations ordered by the Supreme Court are delayed. When will perpetrators be charged for the Aquino-era P157-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program, the largest malversation in Philippine history, as the High Court instructed one and a half years ago?

We need a CCGG
So what’s the solution?

CCGG.

We need a Citizen Coalition for Good Governance (or some catchier name). CCGG would be a nationwide organization harnessing key sectors — religions, academe, business, labor, civil society — and recruiting at least 15,000 volunteers with governance, investigation, prosecution, auditing, media, and other backgrounds useful in spotting, investigating, publicizing, and filling charges against corruption.

CCGG can bring together respected national institutions opposing graft, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and other religious entities, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and other professional bodies, the Management Association of the Philippines and other business groups, the Trades Union Congress of the Philippines and other labor federations, Kilusan ng MgaBrodkaster ng Pilipinas, and other media, leading universities and colleges, and non-partisan civil society groups.

To ensure integrity, impartiality and wide public support, CCGG should have a governing council of highly respected, non-partisan moral figures like the country’s four Catholic Cardinals, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod, GawadKalinga head Antonio Meloto, and business leader Washington Sycip, among others.

CCGG’s governing council can formulate its objectives, operating framework, and funding arrangements. Among parameters to consider:

• CCGG shall independently probe anomalies, with priority given to size, prominence and lack of prompt government action; it also does undertake lifestyle checks.

• CCGG shall report lack of cooperation from state officials and agencies, and file appropriate administrative and judicial cases to obtain information and sanction inaction.

• CCGG shall publicly report findings and activities, file information and complaints with relevant state bodies, press for action on its filings, and publicize what’s done or not done.

• CCGG shall take steps to protect and support volunteers, upright civil servants, and other personages facing threats or reprisals for assisting the coalition.

• CCGG shall espouse legislative and administrative reforms toward good governance, transparency, and accountability.

Once created, the coalition can deter would-be grafters, who could be probed by CCGG even if political allies and connections derail or delay official inquiries.

Plus: State officials and entities reluctant or slow to investigate anomalies would face unfavorable comparison with the coalition’s swift action.

Agencies and local governments blocking CCGG would contend with media exposure and charges in the OMB, the Civil Service Commission, and the courts. Plus Malacañang for agencies covered by President Duterte’s freedom of information order.

Investigative reports would be given wide publicity among CCGG member groups and media, heightening and informing public vigilance against graft.

Protect upright civil servants
Probably most important, upright civil servants privy to irregularities would have a nationwide entity to act on their revelations and accord them protection. Such insider exposure would further deter corrupt politicians and officials. And with CCGG support, more and more righteous public servants would be emboldened to oppose and expose corruption.

Days before Christmas, President Duterte awarded exemplary public servants, the latest among hundreds cited by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) over the decades. More than accolades, however, what upright bureaucrats, police and soldiers need is protection from reprisal and bias.

Consider Bess. A seasoned agency executive, she regularly tops ratings among midlevel officials, and often gets tough assignments requiring high-level expertise. Yet she is repeatedly passed over for promotion to assistant secretary.

Reason: her uncompromising stance against corruption. Indeed, Bess is often removed as chairperson of bidding committees she is initially assigned to head.

The CSC and CCGG can mobilize and support honest public servants like Bess, showing them they’re not alone, and linking them to other paragons of integrity.

CCGG can also obtain scholarships, discount groceries and fares, medical assistance, and other privileges for upright civil servants and their families.

The CBCP, Catholic schools, the MAP, the IBP, the KBP, and other national entities have been railing against sleaze for decades. If they join together to form CCGG, they can deter, expose and penalize far more grafters than ever before.

Every three years, these organizations mobilize some 400,000 volunteers for clean, orderly, peaceful and credible elections. If they also field 15,000 anti-graft CCGG sleuths, and with President Duterte’s avowed war on sleaze this year, government crooks may get just as scared as street hoods now spooked by Digong.

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11 Comments

  1. If we simply adopt the Grand Jury System, 23 private citizens with appropriate qualification shall ultra-secretly undertake to investigate and decide to file a criminal accusation in court against a crime suspect if found with probable cause by this body of citizens that he has committed a serious crime such an act of misappropriating public funds, or for bribery. The Grand Jury is not a court. It is an accusatory body of private citizens. It’s proceeding is non-adversarial. It is not required that the crime suspect be present in the secret investigating room. When the GJ files a criminal accusation in court, it proceeds to act independently and it is not required to seek the permission of any public officials.

    When these 23 private citizens are chosen to sit in the GJ, they act in their sovereign capacity as masters of society in accordance with Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution. They act under the Supervision, but not under the control, of a public officials, such as a deputy ombudsman. They are chosen by lottery only – not by appointment from any public official. Why? Because any government official, including the President, is merely a public servant. In the natural order of government, a servant or public servant has no authority to appoint his master. The people are sovereign (Art. II, Sec. 1, of the Consti). Once the accused is indicted in court, the Judge in whose court the case has been filed shall issue a warrant of arrest to take the crime suspect into custody, regardless of his rank, power, title, or authority as a public official and shall then be required to face an arraignment and trial before a Trial Jury. If the Judge shall refuse to issue a warrant of arrest without valid or legal reason, the 23-member Grand Jury may file a criminal indictment against the judge for obstruction of justice against such judge.

    In proposing this system for adoption, there shall be at least one grand jury for every legislative district all around the country. The ratio of accusation by the Grand shall be 23 private citizens who shall vote as a body versus one crime suspect. The 23 citizens shall be kept anonymous and no one, or any public official, shall ever know their identities. Grand Jury operate ULTLRA-SECRETELY under the proposed law to create this system.

    To get a full information on how the Grand Jury is instructed to perform its function, please browse the website for this Article. If you have a question on the subject, you may send an email to the writer, to clarify other issues such as due process matters, among others, or the so-called right of the accused to be present in the investigation against him.

  2. HOW TO SOLVE CORRUPTION?
    If we are determined to solve corruption, we must address the root cause of corruption which also breeds poverty, social injustice, criminality, insurgency and almost all the prevailing socio-economic- political dysfunctions and governance problems. If we can not solve the root cause, all our actions to solve corruption will be palliative or ban-aid solutions until corruption will become cancerous that will continuously drain government resources and destroy the moral fibers not only the people in government but the whole society as well.
    What then is the root cause of corruption? This root cause is embedded in the way we elect our leaders from the President, VP, Senators down to the barangay chairmen. At present, we have a very COSTLY ELECTION as mandated in our Omnibus Election Code. This COSTLY ELECTION will not only allow but also compels political candidates to spend their own or supporters money just to get elected. Accordingly, the Omnibus Election Code allows every candidate to spend 3-10 pesos per registered voter. So if we have a registered voting populace of 54 million Filipinos, every candidate running for national posts like Pres. & VP are allowed by law to spend P10 pesos per voter with unthinkable campaign fund totalling FIVE HUNDRED FORTY MILLION PESOS (P 540M) each. The spending limit of 3-5 pesos per registered voter holds true down to the barangay levels. Simple logic, common sense and statistical probabilities clearly show that the SEEDS OF CORRUPTION were already planted when the candidates were allowed to invest or spend their own money or their supporters money totaling such unconscionable amount just to get elected. How can an elected candidate recover his campaign expenses if his total salaries and allowances during his stint in office shall be less than his allowed expenses during the election campaign. In short, he spends during election more than he will earn while in office out of his legal salaries & allowances. Where will he get the deficit if not thru graft and corruption? The classical examples of the “Napoles cases” on the pork barrel scams, alleged SOPs and ghost projects in various political offices clearly demonstrate that these CORRUPTION CONSPIRACIES were committed to recover the campaign expenses and accumulate funds to “beef up the Political Party Campaign Chest” or personal coffers for independent candidates in preparation for the future costly elections since elected officials except the President are allowed to run for three (3) terms. Since the political leaders are at the center of governance, they will adversely influence and contaminate even the career professionals in the different agencies that were devolved in the local government units. Pork barrel insertions by lawmakers in the budget of the executive branch which are supposedly implemented by line agencies are then diverted for “ghost projects” to recover campaign expenses of Senators and Congressmen as shown during the televised inquiry of Napoles on the Pork barrel Scams. This corrupt practices will discreetly and continuously go unabated if the root cause specifically the COSTLY ELECTION will not be addressed.

    To address the COSTLY ELECTION, we must make election FREE just like the election of class officers in schools. PERSONAL AND SUPPORTERS SPENDING MUST BE PROHIBITED. Instead, GOVERNMENT THRU COMELEC MUST SPEND FOR THE ELECTION CAMPAIGNS SINCE POLITICAL CANDIDATES ARE RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE NOT CORPORATE/PERSONAL POSITIONS AND THEY ARE SUPPOSE TO SERVE THE PEOPLE AND NOT TO SPEND MORE TIME TO RECOVER CAMPAIGN EXPENSES OR ACCUMULATE WEALTH THROUGH GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES. WORLD BANK STUDY REVEALED THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS LOSING ABOUT 20% OF OUR ANNUAL BUDGET THROUGH GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES. So if we have an annual budget of 3-TRILLION PESOS, GOVT IS LOSING about 600 BILLION PESOS THRU GRAFT AND CORRUPTION ANNUALLY OR 1.8 TRILLION PESOS EVERY ELECTION CYCLE IN 3 YEARS. This gargantuan losses is scandalously too much that is the reason why politicians and their criminal cohorts are the ones becoming richer while majority of the Filipinos become poorer.
    It must be the responsibility of government or COMELEC to pay the cost of advertising the credentials of all candidates or sponsoring public debates or multimedia advertisements. In this way, WINNING CANDIDATES WILL HAVE NO REASON TO COMMIT CORRUPTION SINCE THEY SPENT NOTHING DURING ELECTION. Consequently, there will be POLITICAL WILL to prosecute grafters or corrupt individuals. THE VERY REASON WHY THERE IS NO POLITICAL WILL TO PROSECUTE GRAFTERS IS BECAUSE “EVERY POLITICIAN KNOWS THAT EVERY CANDIDATE SPENT AND COMMITTED CORRUPTION TO RECOVER THEIR CAMPAIGN EXPENSES. So prosecution of grafters is just a “moro-moro” or “props” just to gain leverage during election campaign to portray that the candidate is against corruption and sometimes it is used to besmirch the image of political competitors thru trial and conviction by media publicity .
    The current NATIONAL BUDGET IS NOT REALLY PORK FREE since Senators and Congressmen as admitted in TV interview by Senator Drillon still submitted PROJECTS FOR FUNDING WHICH WERE INCLUDED IN THE NATIONAL BUDGET. Based on previous revelations in the pork barrel scams, these funded projects will be awarded thru a “moro-moro” rigged public biddings to political campaign financiers, suppliers and contractors who will reportedly implement these projects but the bulk amount will be used to offset campaign contributions that were already spent during the election campaign. So it will be a vicious cycle of corruption if the root cause of corruption will not be addressed.
    The current thrust of President Duterte to address corruption by prosecuting grafters in government like the drug addicts show SEMBLANCE OF POLITICAL WILL and it is a move in the right direction. But this will only become temporary solution if the “ROOT CAUSE WHICH IS COSTLY ELECTION” will not be addressed because once the term of the President ends, the next administration may not be able to sustain it . The Omnibus Election code requiring candidates to spend 3-10 pesos per voter must be amended. This wrong first step in our political system certainly creates adverse effects like graft and corruption with domino effects in exacerbating other systemic dysfunctions like sub-standard and overpriced roads, bridges, buildings, ghost projects, SOPs and other shenanigans in almost all agencies of government, both houses of congress which also contaminated the judiciary who are all political appointees to ensure that these justices will vote in favor of the appointing power in any criminal and corruption cases. The Supreme Court decisions in previous cases which divided their votes do not show “Supreme Intellects” among the justices but clearly manifested politicized decisions with semblance of biases to favor the wishes of appointing power.
    The Costly Election which breeds graft and corruption with multitude of adverse consequences and malpractices undoubtedly undermined the sovereign will of the people and the true meaning of good governance in government as well as the popular dictum that a “public office is a public trust”. Hence, this systemic problem must be addressed by systemic and lasting solution which must start at the root cause which is the “COSTLY ELECTION”.

  3. Bodies like this have been created before sporting different names… waste of time and press releases..

    to increase the number of people doing ‘watchdog’ activities can only be effective if these watchers know what dogs to catch and how, and how to keep them in ‘control’ when caught. It is not enough that we have dogs that “bark” at suspected corrupt practices and corrupt people.

    examine the anti-graft and corruption laws we have… including the IRRs – how many understand the elements of corrupt practices enumerated there? how many understand the mandated legal procedures for catching crooks? can you see how difficult it is to gather evidence and make charges of corruption stick? EX bidding anomalies – how many understand bidding procedures, procurement laws and related regulations?

    my take — focus on PERFORMANCE – map out the tasks and functions integral to the mandate of every office /official, establish monitoring and reporting systems that allow citizen access in real time on records of what they are doing and what they have accomplished in relation to their mandate tasks and functions — this is where digitization and freedom of information should interface…

    an honest to goodness performance accountability system that allows citizen access to what every agency and official is doing in real time regarding their mandates and appurtenant tasks and functions is a lot more effective than recruiting watchdogs..

    accountability is a continuing obligation — establish the system of accountability not simply for malfeasance or misfeasance in office but for PERFORMANCE.

    accountability is essentially all about what you accomplish re what you are tasked to do — not only for corrupt actions…

    enough of having boards and bodies with people presumed to be paragons of integrity and probity…

  4. We already had something similar called PCGG, and we all know what happened to that. I prefer another 4 letter word, KILL. How many drug pushers have been killed so far, 6000? Kill 6000 corrupt officials and you will clean up the Augean stables.

    • Thank you for your comment, Amnata Pundit.

      Just for clarification, the Presidential Commission on Good Government, created by then-President Corazon Aquino in 1986 to investigate and recover ill-gotten wealth in the Marcos regime, is a government body still existing today.

      The proposed Citizens Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG) is envisioned as a citizens movement similar to the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).

      Just as Namfrel mobilized volunteers to monitor elections and thus assist and check the work of the Commission on Elections, CCGG can do the same for the Office of the Ombudsman.

      Thank you.

    • “I prefer another 4 letter word, KILL. ”

      that is also my stand…I’m not satisfied with 6K drug killing and I want more (say 20K a year)…if 6K killing for corrupt will be implemented (although still far way to low) ok na rin yun..basta dapat KILL!!!!

  5. This is a good idea from Rick Saludo. I salute you, maybe this proposal should be given to one of
    those Congressman who can effectively legislate for the creation of CCGG. Please don’t let this
    opportunity goes awry…..

    I don’t live in this country anymore. I may retire in the Philippines but that was a plan with
    a number of different options to consider.

  6. Duterte will never beat corruption and violence. He himself is the main promoter and braggart of violence against his own people. Corruption breads corruption. Violence breads violence. Duterte has promoted and bragged about killing more than 6,200 and says thousands more are yet to be murdered.