IF the Philippines was able to get the support of Southeast Asian leaders in pushing for a drug-free region during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), anti-corruption advocates are hoping that Singapore’s hosting of Asean in 2018 would pave way for a corruption-free Asean.
Dante Jimenez, head of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) welcomed Singapore’s chairmanship of the Asean, noting that the country could contribute a lot in the fight against corruption.
President Rodrigo Duterte formally closed on Tuesday the 31st Asean Summit and Related Meetings and officially turned over the chairmanship to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“Singapore is known for its effective anti-corruption campaign and it has one of the best bureaus in fighting corruption,” Jimenez said in an interview.
The VACC head was referring to Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), an independent agency, responsible for investigating and preventing corruption in Singapore. Established in 1952, the bureau is the world’s oldest anti-corruption agency.
Jimenez said the Philippines needed an effective corruption control agency, which would make sure that all pledges and loans from other countries would be spent properly.
“If we will not watch these funds and make sure that the government use it on infrastructure projects and programs properly then it will again end up in the pockets of corrupt officials,” the VACC chairman added.
He said the President showed his sincerity in fighting crimes and illegal drugs but people have yet to see his all-out campaign against corruption.
“All pledges of support and the projected gains of the country as host of the Asean will not be realized to benefit our people if corruption in the bureaucracy will still persist and remain unchecked and unpunished,” Jimenez said.
“VACC urge the President to fulfill his promise of getting rid of corruption under his term.”
As for the chairing of Asean 2017, Jimenez said, the Philippines has been effective in pushing for a “Drug-Free Asean” and for opening the eyes of all nations about the real threat of terrorism.
Leaders of the 10-member regional bloc, in a statement, reaffirmed its commitment to a Drug-Free Asean and welcomed the progress in the implementation of the Asean Work Plan in Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025.
“We welcomed the adoption of the Asean Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle 2017-2019, charting the region’s actions for the next two years in tackling the drug problem in that area,” the leaders said in a draft statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Manila Times.
Jimenez said that Duterte in his speech during the opening of the 31st Asean Summit emphasized the illegal drug problem in the region.
“The menace of illegal drugs trade continues to endanger the very fabric of our society,” he said.
He also mentioned in his speech the threat of terrorism, including the five-month Marawi crisis, which may serve as a reminder to Asean and other countries.
He also noted that terrorism and violent extremism endangered peace, stability, and security of the region because they know no boundaries.
Among the significant outcomes under the chairmanship of the Philippines of the Asean were the adoption of an agreement on the rights and protection of migrant workers and the start of the negotiation of a Code of Conduct (COC) on the West Philippine Sea. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA