GMA Releases P1 B for Fight vs Corruption
Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN
President Arroyo yesterday ordered the release of P1-billion counterpart funding for the United States' recent $ 21-million grant to the government's anti-corruption campaign.
Mrs. Arroyo said the new funds for the campaign against official corruption will be used for an "all-out war against graft and corruption" that will be waged along with the recently reinvigorated military and legal campaign against the communist rebellion and its leaders.
"This morning I instructed Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya to allocate a counterpart of R1 billion for an all-out war against graft and corruption with the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) at the helm of the executive efforts cooperating with the constitutionally independent Ombudsman," Mrs. Arroyo said at the start of the command conference in Malacanang with revenue agencies.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Arroyo has issued Executive Order 531 expanding the powers of the PAGC to include to the commission's jurisdiction the legal pursuit of private individuals alleged to have conspired with government officials in committing graft.
"EO 531 strengthens the PAGC by amending EO 12 which created the commission. Improving the moral standards in government is a major thrust of this administration," Mrs. Arroyo said.
EO 12 issued in 2001 gives the PAGC the jurisdiction to investigate and file graft cases against presidential appointees with the position of assistant regional director or higher.
The new order expands the powers of the commission to include "other public officers and employees and private persons in conspiracy or connivance with covered Presidential appointees."
Mrs. Arroyo said the government's renewed commitment to fight graft will complement its campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), as the fight against graft would mitigate the fiscal problems of the government and consequently address the root causes of insurgencies in the country.
"This command conference comes on the heels of a recent joint Cabinet and regional development council meeting in North Luzon where we instructed the allocation of funds for a strong campaign against the threat posed by the CPP-NPA," Mrs. Arroyo said.
"Security and development must be bolstered by a solid fiscal footing if we are to fight terror and poverty. Tough reforms in the economy are now converging with tough decisions in the security field," she said.
The R1-billion anti-graft fund will serve as the government's counterpart fund to the $20.6-million grant from the US under its Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program.
The Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) which administers the multi-billion dollar MCA grant program had recently approved the funding for the proposed strengthened campaign against corruption, tax evasion, and smuggling.
Mrs. Arroyo said the new funds for the government's anti-corruption campaign will "develop an effective mechanism for gathering and validating tax collection data and invest in information technology, surveillance tools, and customs tracking system so investigating is more thorough and efficient."
"Another major objective of the grant is to strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman. Part of the US funding will be used to attract more local investigators by providing them with just compensation under an employment contract with well-defined performance indicators," Mrs. Arroyo added.
Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the new funds will finance a twoyear anti-corruption program which was proposed by the government for funding under the MCA's threshold program for countries like the Philippines that are on the threshold of being allowed to partake of the MCA's multi-billion dollar development assistance fund.
The Philippines has been classified by the MCC as a "threshold country" because of the government's perceived weaknesses in the fight against graft and in the delivery of basic services to the poor. …