Stiffer penalty for graft bill filed
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate blue ribbon committee has recommended the passage of a bill increasing the penalty for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to imprisonment of not less than 12 years to not more than 20 years.
The present antigraft law only carries a penalty of imprisonment of six years and a month to 15 years.
The draft committee report on the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam also recommended increasing the prescription period of filing graft cases from the present 15 years to 200 years.
Both recommendations are embodied in Senate Bill No. 1086, authored by Senate blue ribbon committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III and filed in July last year.
“The reason for the increase of penalty for said offenses is to ensure that the penalties imposed by law are commensurate with the crime committed,” Guingona said in his explanatory note on SB 1086.
Guingona added that the bill sought to ensure that the right of the State to recover properties acquired through the commission of the acts enumerated under Republic Act No. 3019 “shall not be barred by prescription, laches or estoppel.”
The draft committee report also suggested the passage of Senate Bill No. 76 that seeks to amend the Government Procurement Reform Act.
“Under this bill, recommending, approving and/or awarding a contract to a bidder that is not legally, technically and/or financially capable will now be punishable,” the report read.
It was found during the committee’s nine hearings on the pork barrel scam that lawmakers endorsed the dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to receive millions of pesos in their pork barrel allocations in exchange for kickbacks.
Audit NGOs’ gov’t funds
“A law should be passed immediately requiring all government agencies releasing funds to NGOs/civil society organizations/people’s organizations, to validate these entities,” the report also recommended.
It also recommended that Congress pass a law mandating that the Commission on Audit (COA) audit NGOs handling government funds.
“Considering that government funds transferred to NGOs maintain their character as public funds, a law is needed so that public funds entrusted to NGOs are always subjected to COA rules and regulations,” the report said.
The draft also suggested that a law be passed mandating that NGOs receiving government funds comply with the procurement act.
“Consistent with the policy mentioned in the immediately preceding recommendation, NGOs participating in the utilization of government funds should comply with the Government Procurement Reform Act and its IRR (implementing rules and regulations),” the report said.
The draft report also recommended the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Act.
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