Slashing budgets of graft-ridden agencies ‘not appropriate remedy’ – Drilon
MANILA, Philippines — Slashing the budgets of graft-ridden agencies is “not the appropriate remedy” that will rid the government of corruption, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Friday.
According to Drilon, “even a reduced budget can still be plundered” if it will be handled by the “same corrupt officials.”
“Why will you punish PhilHealth or SAP (social amelioration program) beneficiaries, especially during this pandemic, for the acts of its officials?” the minority leader said in a message to reporters.
On Thursday, House appropriations committee chair Eric Yap said he will propose before the bicameral conference committee to cut—or even scrap—the budget of government agencies proven to be engaged in corrupt activities.
“Good media copy. But not the appropriate remedy,” Drilon, however, said.
“Will Congressman Yap reduce the budget of PhilHealth because of corruption in that agency? Will congressman yap reduce the budget of DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] because of reports of corruption among barangay chairmen in the distribution of the SAP?” the senator said.
The Philippines should instead strengthen its anti-graft laws, according to Drilon.
“Effective prosecution of corrupt officials, and strengthening the anti-graft laws, and not the reduction of the budget, are the proper and more effective remedy,” he added.
On the other hand, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri backed reducing the budgets of graft-ridden agencies to augment the funding of investigative bodies.
“Pwedeng tapyasan yung mga agencies na nasa perennial list of corrupt agencies pero idagdag natin yun sa investigative bodies like the [Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman, para sa ganon ay lalong maengganyo sila na tutukan itong mga kaso ng korapsyon,” Zubiri told reporters in an online interview.
(The budgets of agencies under the perennial list of corrupt agencies can be reduced and then we add that slashed budget to investigative bodies like the Commission on Audit or the Ombudsman to strengthen their efforts to investigate corruption cases.)
Further, he expressed support for the government-wide corruption probe recently ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It’s about time. Let the ax fall where it may. Mayaman man, malakas, makapangyarihan, ‘pag sila’y lumabag sa batas, lalo na sa corruption, ay dapat parusahan,” Zubiri added.
(It’s about time. Let the ax fall where it may. Regardless if that someone is rich, influential, or powerful, if they violate the law, especially be involved in corruption, they should be punished.)
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