MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III warned Filipinos on Thursday of another “corrupt” President and Chief Justice if the country would fail to address the problem of corruption.
Speaking at the 5th Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) in Pasay City, Aquino acknowledged that the “greatest challenge for any modern society” was how to “stem the corruption” that he said feasted on the moral fabric of society and institutions.
And corruption, Aquino said, could not be eliminated by just “sending a few erring officials to jail or by exposing a single faulty contract or by removing a single oppresive tyrant.”
He then cited as example the case former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapag-Arroyo, who has been charged with plunder, and the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached for his alleged failure to truthfully declare his statement of assets, liabilities and networth.
“But while these cases have undeniable impact in our cultural milieu, without structural reform, another corrupt President might one day take the reins of power; another Chief Justice might one day again betray the public trust,” Aquino said.
The problem of corruption, he said, must thus be approached “strategically, always with the long-term in mind.”
“Reforms cannot be mere blips in the radar — they must usher in an enduring mainstream of good, honest governance,” he said.
“Only through legislation can the bedrock of inclusiveness and positive, meaningful change can be set.”
Aquino also took the opportunity to cite the successes that have been made by his administration in its effort to fight corruption in the country.
He cited for instance how the Department of Public Works and Highways managed to complete a major infrastructure project for only P430 million “by just following the right bidding” when it was originally estimated to cost the government P694 million.
He also noted the same steps being taken by other government agencies like the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Technical Educational Skills Development Authority and others, which he said, have established internal mechanisms or offices to police themselves, to respond to administrative complaints, and to make certain that they were fulfilling their mandate in an efficient manner.
Aquino also noted how the Department of Budget and Management has been taking extra care of taxpayers’s money, directing the disclosure of budget information on the websites of all national departments and agencies.
The Department of Interior and Local Government, he said, has also adopted a ” full disclosure” policy, requiring all local government units to disclose their financial activities.
“We are fully aware that in the coming years, we will continue to grind it out with elements in our respective societies who simply want to profit from the hard work of others–who want to establish, or maintain, an undeserved upper hand over the common citizen,” Aquino said.
“Today, we are forming a more cohesive force against corruption. And the more we share our ideas, the more we listen to one another–the sooner we will achieve our goal of eliminating corruption and reforming the system for the benefit of our peoples,” he added.