Monday, February 18, 2008

PGMA cites importance of fight vs corruption in quest for peace and progress

Amid unfounded allegations of corruption hurled against certain officials of the Arroyo administration linked with the long-cancelled National Broadband Network (NBN) project, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo underscored today the need to rid the bureaucracy of corruption to attain peace and economic prosperity.

In her opening statement at the Procurement Transparency Group-National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Cabinet Group meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room in MalacaƱang this morning, the President stressed that the government has put anti-corruption campaign at the fore of its agenda.

''It is empirical that we fight corruption so we can attain further economic growth, increase investments that would create more new jobs for the people,'' the President said in Filipino.

Thus, she added, the government allotted last year some P3 billion in its war against corruption, ''the largest amount spent for an anti-corruption campaign.

'The President said among the measures taken by the government to stamp out corruption included lifestyle check on people in government.''

Dozens of officials have either been discharged from service or are facing corruption charges in courts as a result of the lifestyle check waged by the present administration,'' she stressed.

The President also said she has created the Procurement Transparency Group (PTG) chaired by Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. to ''monitor and evaluate contracting of government projects.''

''The PTG, which we are meeting now, has been tasked to partner with business, academe, religious and civil society groups to be government's watchdogs,'' she said.

''To rid the system of corruption, the participation of the civil society through the PTG is important,'' the President stressed.

She likewise cited the important roles the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman play in the government's quest to rid the system of corruption and let truth and justice prevail.

Thus, the President said, the budget of the Office of the Ombudsman was doubled to allow it to hire more investigators and prosecutors.

'The number of cases won by the Sandiganbayan increased by 5 percent due to more prosecutors and investigators who are focused on graft and corruption cases,'' she said.

The President expressed hope that the Ombudsman would be fair in its investigation, “no leanings, no politics and no drama involved but fair and just decision...just the truth in accordance with due process, based on solid evidence, and respects the rights of the accused and the accuser.''

''This is the democratic process in resolving peacefully and truthfully issues and accusations,'' the President said.“If we could resolve corruption charges in the democratic process, then our country would be respected as a democracy. Let us respect the rule of law, the key to peace and prosperity,'' the President said. (

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