How the CBCP can fight graft

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Last of Two Parts

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Imagine a nationwide volunteer organization of current or retired lawyers, investigators, accountants, auditors, and other experts in probing dubious transactions. Plus present or past bureaucrats providing inside knowledge to the anti-graft movement.

Backing the entity in its mission of monitoring, investigating and filing charges against corruption are major religions and leading civil society, professional, labor, business, academe, and other sectoral organizations. And leading the group — let’s call it Citizens Coalition for Good Governance, or CCGG — would be a governing council of non-partisan public figures renowned for integrity.

With a planned core of 13,000 probers, plus millions of citizen-supporters across the archipelago, the CCGG would make sleaze a far riskier proposition for its perpetrators among the 1.3 million politicians, officials, and rank and file in the public sector.

With just several hundred investigators and prosecutors, the Office of the Ombudsman cannot but fail to catch and punish most grafters. But with the CCGG backing the OMB, just as Namfrel and PPCRV support the Commission on Elections, the ratio of probers to public servants in the country would jump to one for every 100, exceeding even that of Hong Kong’s feared Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Building a national integrity movement
The CCGG is one of the integrity initiatives respectfully proposed for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to spearhead. With the coalition in place, the nation would be more watchful and active against sleaze. And that would do much to stanch corruption, whoever gets elected.

The Coalition’s governing council shall draw up its objectives, operating framework, and funding arrangements. Among parameters to consider:

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

The CCGG shall file charges and investigation reports with agencies that can act on them, including OMB, Office of the President, Civil Service Commission, Supreme Court, police and military authorities, and the agencies of people under investigation.

The CCGG shall monitor and publicize actions or inaction on its findings, and file further motions and other measures to expedite cases.

The CCGG shall report any lack of cooperation from state officials and agencies, and file needed administrative and legal cases to obtain information and sanction inaction.

The CCGG shall protect and support whistleblowers, witnesses, volunteers, civil servants, and other personages facing threats or reprisals for assisting the coalition.

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

The coalition can deter would-be grafters, who could be probed by the CCGG even if political allies and connections derail or delay official inquiries. Officials and entities stonewalling inquiries would be exposed in media and sued in the OMB, the Civil Service Commission, and the courts.

Probably most important, civil servants privy to irregularities would have a nationwide entity to act on their revelations and accord them protection. Such a threat of exposure from within the bureaucracy would further deter corrupt politicians and officials.

Upright civil servants need public support
Two other campaigns are proposed in this article for CBCP support and leadership. One is the Samahang Lingkod Bayani, creating and buttressing what CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas called “integrity circles.”

SLB is envisioned as a nationwide network of upright civil servants backed by social organizations, including major religions. The goal is to provide support and protection for honest bureaucrats, police and soldiers who face threats, isolation, discrimination, and other pressures for espousing integrity and opposing irregularity.

The Lingkod Bayani movement would also provide a secure confidential whistleblower system, especially for public servants wary of telling government officials about graft, for tipping off the corrupt and provoking reprisal.

Thirdly, SLB can harness businesses for material benefits, including freebies, discounts, scholarships, medical care, and other assistance for accredited members in good standing, along with their families. Plus: the movement can provide emergency aid and financial support for families of civil servants killed in the line of duty.

If established as envisioned, the Citizens Coalition for Good Governance and the Samahang Lingkod Bayani can fight corruption and advance integrity, while raising public awareness, commitment, and action for upright, exemplary government.

For a more detailed discussion of CCGG and SLB, google “How the People can win in 2016,” published on May 14, and “The Way to Real Change,” a two-part article that ran in this column on September 23 and 25, 2014.

Getting transparent candidates elected
The third initiative for CBCP to consider was discussed in this column on June 9: forming a nationwide integrity coalition to select and publicize upright candidates.

Rather than endorsing them outright, the coalition can set certain criteria or commitments for politicians to accept before being considered for the list of vetted candidates to be posted by the Church and other coalition partners nationwide.

The proposed conditions for listing are intended to promote transparency and democratic consultation: no-holds-barred interviews on their time in public office and their governance platform; waivers allowing disclosure to the coalition of assets and business interests of candidates and their immediate family; periodic dialogues on governance and policy matters with coalition representatives; and written pledges to release official information relating to their actions in office.

With the seal of transparency and the nationwide publicity given by the coalition, voters will know better which candidates are committed to openness and dialogue. Then the people would be more likely to “vote for the right reasons,” as CBCP President Archbishop Villegas urged recently, “because you trust a person to lead the community and to lead the country.”

In terms of priority, the CCGG is most crucial, followed by SLB and the transparency list.

For honest, orderly, and peaceful elections, the CBCP established the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting. In this Year of the Poor, it is time for the Catholic Church to again mobilize the people for good governance. So help us God.

(The first part was published on Tuesday.)

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13 Comments

  1. Do these Catholic bishops really have the moral ascendancy to spearhead the anti-corruption campaign? Lest you forget those among them who received luxury cars from GMA & many among their ranks who were accused of sexually molesting kids…come to think of it.

  2. Kapag Ako Pa on

    The section heads, division heads, department heads, managers to whom decisions are reposed or have the power and authority to enter into contracts, agreements, transactions or sort of being chairman, vice chairman of bidding of any kind are recepients of the fruits of graft and corruption in any government agencies, instrumentalities, its subsidiairies, including all government owed and controlled corporations and any government financial institutions. It is therefore proper for CCGG to coordinate with the Civil Service Commission requesting the latter to mandatorily require with sufficient safeguard /safety net or encourage with corresponding incentives any rank and file employees of concerned govrnment entity to sumit report of known anomalies, graft and corruption practices perpetrated or being committed by said government personalities directly to CCGG because rank and file employees have willingness/ interest to devulge such malpractices for reason they are usually demeed not in any way recepient of mentioned fruits of anomalies.

  3. Amnata Pundit on

    If the Church is bent on becoming a bigger political power than what it already is, then it should be prepared to become a political target. More meddling by the Church in government should be welcomed by those opposed to the Church’s role in politics as it will provide them with more ammunition to attack her track record as spiritual and moral mentor- a role in which she is already a monumental failure- because based on the Church’s 500 year history in this country, papalpak ang mga pare sa planong ito. She will get cheers from her usual supporters but she will surely alienate a good part if not more than half of the body politic, which is what politics always does. This is a golden opportunity to put the Church in her place, I hope the CBCP goes along with it. I suggest they start by investigating GMA’s three years of re-enacted budget.

  4. Vic PenetranteVic on

    Public support can be given to the CCGG and CBCP, if only most of the people are not too busy looking for food!

  5. Allen llamar on

    I am optimistic, some of this Bishops are personal friends even personal spiritual adviser to this politicians who are thieves.

  6. The CBCP should concentrate their preaching about Salvation not meddling politics. Correct me if I’m wrong or forgive me, most corrupt people in our country are catholic…Does the CBCP aware of this?

    History tells us, EDSA Revolution as one example. ..!

  7. I’m all for this, Mr. Saludo! Saludo ako sa yo! (Sorry for the pun; I mean it.)

  8. Creation of Citizens Coalition for Good Governance, or CCGG to assist the OMB in its fight against corruption is a good idea. I commend it. This is an idea whose time has come. I, for one would like to enlist as volunteer. As a Civil Engineer, I believe I can contribute something in its fight against corruption. But unless the OMB is not partisan, volunteers may just be wasting money, time and effort.

  9. P.Akialamiro on

    This is an excellent idea. There should be an application for volunteers where they can specify their specialties or line of service they can do. For anomalies and discrepancies uncovered by any faction in the group will have to be filed in court or in the proper forum in the name of the CCGG. There should be a legal arm of the group to take care of the filing of cases and complaints. All college students should be encouraged to be members and resource persons.

    A campaign for membership,involvement and logistics can be started in he fb.

  10. Noon pumasok at nakialam ang cbcp,sa pag-alis kay Marcos at inilagak si Cory,ganitong-ganito dinang sinasabi,iba sa ginagawa kaya hanggang ngayon nagkaletse-letse ang ggobyerno!
    Maganda ang balak at totoong makakatulong ito,kung hindi gagamitin sa sariling interest!

  11. I am all for your proposal, Mr. Saludo. In a country, where almost all politicians are corrupt, there is really a need for concerted citizens’ action against corruption. The Tagalog saying “Kung walang napaloloko ay walang manloloko.”

    Indeed, the CBCP should spearhead the movement. It is the only credible organization around. Besides, this initiative from them is in keeping with their mandate to preserve and promote God’s kingdom on earth.

  12. Mr. Saludo are you saying the CBCP has become a political-religious group? Shouldn’t there be separation between church and state? There is wisdom to this you know. But if the wisdom behind it escapes a few of us then shouldn’t we also start thinking that the state should also meddle in the affairs of the church?.

    • Christine Diaz on

      Separation of church and state is a much-abused term that actually simply means that church officials should not assume public office and the state should not support any church in exclusion of all others. No church (Catholic or otherwise) can be barred from pursuing the good of its members or adherents, even and especially in the political sphere, which affects their well-being more than any other agency does. If my church does not do anything to free me from the shackles of poverty and injustice perpetrated by my government, I would seriously doubt if it really cares about me and my well-being. It cannot take care only of my soul as my should is intertwined with my body while I’m alive. Anything that happens to my body will definitely affect my soul. A good illustration of this is that if I could not procure my material needs through honest work due to the unabated corruption in the government and its indifference to the plight of its people, I may be tempted to steal, which is definitely within the realm of the spirit. I hope people would understand this once and for all so we would no longer come across allusions to “separation of church and state” every time anyone proposes Church action on government crimes and inaction.