Senate probes part of drive vs corruption–Drilon
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate investigations into anomalies in government are all part of the legislators’ “relentless pursuit” of wrongdoing in support of the anticorruption campaign of President Benigno Aquino III.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said this at the Second State Conference on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (Uncac) in Malacañang on Tuesday before an audience that included the President and other high-ranking government officials.
“The Senate is your veritable partner in promoting transparency and accountability,” Drilon told Mr. Aquino.
“There can be no better proof of our relentless pursuit of transparency than the investigations done by the blue ribbon committee of all these reported anomalies,” Drilon said.
The blue ribbon committee and its subcommittee have recently been looking into allegations of corruption by government officials, including Vice President Jejomar Binay and Drilon himself.
Both have denied committing any wrongdoing.
Makati building overprice
The blue ribbon subcommittee is looking into the alleged overprice of the buildings that were constructed when Binay was still the mayor of Makati.
The investigation has widened into a probe of the ill-gotten assets that Binay allegedly amassed through dubious transactions entered into by the Makati government with various suppliers.
The blue ribbon mother committee meanwhile has opened an investigation into allegations that Drilon may have benefited from the contract to build the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).
According to Drilon, other efforts by the legislative branch to strengthen anticorruption measures include the proposed amendments in the Sandiganbayan Law, which he described as a “landmark legislation.”
The proposed measure will have “innovations (introduced to) the antigraft court,” he said.
These include having one justice of a division to hear evidence without the three other justices, the modification of the voting requirement, and the transfer of jurisdiction of certain minor cases to the regional trial courts.
The bill also proposes adding more divisions to the Sandiganbayan that will allow the antigraft court to dispose of cases faster.
Drilon said the Senate’s passage of the freedom of information bill was another concrete action in addressing corruption.
“As a signatory in the Uncac, the Philippines has not wavered [in] the campaign against corrupt practices,” he said.
A primer on the Uncac says that “as a state party, the Philippines is obliged to implement preventive and punitive anticorruption measures, including asset recovery, affecting their laws, institutions and practices.”
On Tuesday’s Malacañang forum marked the second state conference following the assessment the implementation and review of the Philippines’ compliance with the Uncac.
The officials who attended the conference included Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.
Drilon also said that part of the anticorruption efforts was having a national budget that he described as “the most scrutinized… to ensure that it is insulated from loopholes where graft and corruption can thrive.”
He stressed that the 2015 budget submitted by Malacañang does not contain any pork barrel nor will the legislators have a hand in identifying projects for their districts which has always been a source of corruption.
The 2015 General Appropriations Act was passed by the Senate on third reading last week and is now being taken up by the bicameral committee. Nikko Dizon
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