• The way to real change is not ‘Aquino, resign!’


    First of two parts

    If there’s one painful lesson the nation should learn from past changes in national leadership, they never stopped corruption.

    Corazon Aquino took over from Ferdinand Marcos, then had her Kamag-anak Inc. Joseph Estrada had his predecessor Fidel Ramos investigated over the Amari scandal, but Erap himself was ousted and jailed over jueteng and stock bribes. Now, his successor Gloria Arroyo is accused of sleaze over ZTE and PCSO irregularities.

    Her biggest accuser, President Benigno Aquino 3rd, faces his own irregularities, with the graft-ridden pork barrel more than doubling under his watch, smuggling leaping five-fold, and his Disbursement Acceleration Program illegally appropriating some P150 billion—all three anomalies hitting unprecedented levels.

    The current administration is scheming to stay in control, if only to keep mountains of incriminating pork barrel papers away from the public and the prosecutors. Even if the current cabal is swept away, key segments of it will swing to the next dispensation, as they did when Arroyo stepped down in 2010.

    That would likely happen when a new leader walks into Malacañang. National politics demands both a nationwide network of allies and a titanic hoard of cash, so anyone playing that game cannot but make deals with less-than-immaculate politicos, and may well be of the same ilk himself or herself.

    So if politicians will be politicians, along with the sleazy operators backing them, stopping graft can’t be done just by regime change. Those who govern must be closely and constantly watched. But most are not; there simply aren’t enough graftbusters.

    The anti-graft numbers game
    The Ombudsman is supposed to fight sleaze. Given the gargantuan government, however—1.3 million public servants with P2.6 trillion to spend next year—the OMB’s several hundred staff just can’t watch, let alone catch, more than a fraction of the dirt.

    Even if its budget and personnel increased tenfold—most unlikely for pork barreled lawmakers to do—the boost to 8,000 or so OMB personnel would still field one graftbuster for every 1,500 public servants, compared with one for every 124 bureaucrats for Hong Kong’s feared Independent Commission Against Corruption.

    Plainly, the nation needs to mobilize many, many more warm bodies against graft. To get a one-to-100 ratio of graftbusters to government officials and personnel, for instance, we need 130,000 Filipinos on anti-corruption duty.

    That’s less than one-fifth of one percent of the 70 million Filipinos aged between 15 and 75. If they were mobilized, they should be able to raise the chance of grafters being caught to a level that would deter most would-be scammers, as it does in Hong Kong.

    Replicating Namfrel’s success
    Would 130,000 Filipinos sign up to fight graft? Well, nearly double that number are on Namfrel’s volunteer list. That’s why in the Philippines and probably in East Asia, the National Movement for Free Elections is the most successful and extensive example of people power for good governance.

    With legions of volunteers, Namfrel has deterred, blocked or exposed massive poll fraud, including the February 1986 cheating which brought down strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Its historic effort nearly three decades ago is memorialized in the election tally board at La Salle Greenhills gym, showing Corazon Aquino beating Marcos.

    With citizens watching and guarding the vote and the count, election officials and staff, political parties and candidates, and private armies are deterred from irregularities and violence. Sure, fraud, vote buying, and intimidation still happens, but far less than would occur without Namfrel and its fellow watchdog groups.

    Similarly, to slash corruption, we need a nationwide citizens organization to monitor, audit, and investigate government activities and transactions, parallel with state investigators and auditors, just as Namfrel canvasses votes in tandem with the Commission on Elections.

    The envisioned group—let’s tentatively call it Citizens Coalition for Good Governance, or CCGG—would tap working or retired accountants and civil servants, volunteer lawyers and investigators, schools and companies, religious, sectoral and community groups, and other entities keen to clean up government.

    Citizens Coalition for Good Governance
    To ensure integrity, impartiality and broad public support, CCGG should be led by a governing council of highly respected and non-partisan moral figures like the country’s four Catholic Cardinals, former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod, Gawad Kalinga head Antonio Meloto, and business leader Washington Sycip.

    CCGG can bring together such respected institutions as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and other religious entities, Integrated Bar of the Philippines and other professional bodies, Management Association of the Philippines and other business groups, Trades Union Congress of the Philippines and other labor federations, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and other media, top universities and colleges, and non-partisan civil society organizations.

    If convened, CCGG’s governing council shall draw up 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; and undertake lifestyle checks.

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

    CCGG shall publicly report its findings and activities, file information and complaints with relevant government bodies, and monitor official action on its filings.

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

    CCGG shall lend support to 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. State officials and entities reluctant or slow to investigate anomalies would face comparision with the coalition’s swift action.

    Agencies and local governments blocking CCGG would contend with media exposure and cases in the OMB, the Civil Service Commission, and the courts. Investigative reports would be given wide publicity among CCGG member groups and media, heightening and informing public vigilance against graft.

    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. This crucial CCGG role of supporting and defending upright public servants will be further discussed in the last part of this article on Thursday.

    Through Namfrel, citizens have been indispensable in curbing election fraud. With CCGG, we can also score big gains against corruption.

    (The last part about public support for upright civil servants is published Thursday.)


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. I am a 70 years old retired lawyer. I will volunteer for the CCGC. I wish and pray for this to happen. Let’s just console ourselves meantime with the thought that this administration will end sometime soon and gear up with a CCGC for the succeeding administration/s. I read somewhere that ants are among the most resilient creatures on earth and this is due to their cooperativeness for one another. It might be a long shot but I still believe we can do it.

    2. I agree the solution is not for Aquino to resign – leave him alone. The people put him there, the people should take him out! HOW?

      One only have to look at recent Presidents driven out of their positions – president of Egypt, Libyan president, Iraq president, Thailand Prime Minister!

      People, people – get up and march to drive out NOW Aquino and the oligarchs cohorts that are making our economic well being miserable.

    3. The CCGG proposal must be accompanied by:

      1) a swift Court hearing and conviction by the Sandiganbayan (more Divisions must be created and located in the Visayas and Mindanao);
      2) an assurance that those convicted would be sent behind bars and will not be allowed house or hospital arrest and
      3) an assurance that what they stole from the people is fully recovered.

      The main goal must be to deliver the message that CRIME DOES NOT PAY.


    4. victor m. hernandez on

      CCGG is a concept worth implementing, But we need to be patient with its effectiveness. It will take much time to see results. This is its price. More cooperation from the citizens, from the barangay level to the national government. From the families, schools, and social and mass media. The ultimate solution is really a change of heart from each and every individual. Values formation which sarts from the home, from childhood to youthful years and to mature years, through conhstant reminder, renewal, revivals, rewards, recognition and punishment which should be publishsize and widely circulated if warranted. Without a comprehensive cooperation and change of hearts, and proper values, we are back and mired in a cesspool of sand and mud. God is our refuge and our strength, but we need to cooperate, and there are sacrfices. All we are being required is patience and cooperation. Although we wish to be optimistic, we also need to be realistic. So until the next election we go to a elect a new cabal and cohorts of leaders who will enrich themselves to the detriment of the people. We can try another hard or steel handed rule, or we can try social and political upheaval.

    5. there is another way Sec. Saludo.. reorganize the COA by amending the Constitution…coa at present, is a constitutional and independent body (kuno), as designed by the minions of dictator Marcos back in 1978,, since then its main structure and operations has not changed.. it should be pointed that its main architects happened to be biased to towards the legal professions since most of them HAD worked for the judiciary.. as a result, COA’a audit framework is composed of auditors who are mandated to operates like a court, in their examination and adjudication of cases as a result of their audit findings…a court, as we know, is prone to corruption.. the judge can be bought, intimidated or even terminated with extreme prejudice …because of this legal framework, the question is who is the auditor in his right senses who will sacrifice life and limb, knowing that, since his work is like that of a judge, he cannot invoke the help of the institution if the result of his work would be questioned by aggrieved respondents in a court of law, to get back at him…consequently, the result of the auditor’s work does not necessarily bind the whole institution until and unless the auditor;s finding is sustained by the COA top brass, as part of the appeal mechanism instituted in deciding cases, which is still subject to review by the Supreme Court on certiorari…. in contrast, the audit institutions in advanced countries like the UK, Canada and even the US do not operate this way..for the work and output of their auditors is the output of the whole audit institution….the auditor;s work is simple: perform the audit, render a report and that report, after going thorough a rigorous review until it reaches the topmost authority, becomes the report of the whole institution….in short, the work of the auditor in the Philippines is only personal to him compared to the work of the auditor in these advanced countries which is institutional…what is the advantage of an …

    6. the columnist’s suggestion is workable using namfrel as a guide. but resignation of aquino and filing of charges against aquino, abad, drillon, alcala and the rest of kkk lap dance groupies should be done pronto to prevent further misuse of public funds.

    7. Maraming magandang paliwanag, pero walang kongkretong sulusyon! Ang haba paliwanag pero isa lang talaga ang sulusyon!!
      Alisin sa kaisipan at burahin ang itinatak ng yellow gangs na ang Aquino ay santo walang kamalian at wag nang gamitin sa panloloko sa mamamayan,alisin at purgahin ang mga linta na yellow cronies na hanggang ngayon ay sumisipsip hindi lang sa dugo ng tao kung hindi sa kabuhayan ng mga pilipino!!
      Kung walang kulay yellow,sana ngayon ay nagkakaisa ang bansa!!
      Wala sanang partisyon, walang sanang hati-hati,!
      Lahat ng ito ay itinatak ng mga lintang yellow gangs at mga media na hanggang ngayon ay nagpapasasa sa salapi ng bayan,!!
      Ang sulusyon ay alisin ang itinatak nila na angAquino ay tagapagligtas, ang totoo ay mga salot!!,..sana tayomaging isang bansa ,..Isang kulay, ,isang puso,..isang pag-asa!!.isang bansa, na walang partisyon!! Isa at nagkakaisa,!! Isa lang ang sulusyon sa problema ng bansa!! Isa lang po! Alisin ang Aquino sa pagiging santo at burahin sa kaisipan na hindi holy angAquino at alisin ang mga linta na yellow cronies na hanggang ngayon ay sumisipsip sa yaman ng bansa!!
      Ito ang mga kalawang na patuloy na nakakapit!!
      Kapag naalis na ang mga linta magiging isa ang lahat walang kulay na hahadlang at maghihuwalay!!
      Ito ang history na dapat burahin kung hindi man ay itama!! Ang salot ay dapat ng patayin!! Sa isipan!!

    8. Andres R. Samson on

      Resign sounds good just to get rid of the Tenant ASAP, and the coterie of banals should fall one by one.

      • Are you not feeling tired yourself for keep talking about which you’ve been groundlessly demanding? You’re like a broken record, man, do you know that? Produce solid evidence like the one obtained against Gloria, Corona, Enrile, Jinggoy & Revilla. I won’t think twice and support your call. I would even go much farther and take to the streets like I used to do.

        This proposal by Mr. Saludo is worth considering. Yours’ is, aside from being baseless, so premature. Tsupeee!