Intramuros — President Rodrigo Duterte’s determination and resolve can rid the country of corrupt activities, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Monday, October 14, reminding government officials that the war against corruption remains strong.
Despite odds stacked against their favor, Andanar stressed that the Duterte administration still finds new ways to end corruption and societal ills.
In his speech during the second “Ulat sa Bayan Report” of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Andanar noted that the Chief Executive has waged wars against three fronts — illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption.
“The wars against illegal drugs and crime have the fighting mechanisms, best equipped for engaging, controlling, and possibly eradicating these ills of society,” he said.
The PCOO chief, however, stressed that dealing with corruption is a different matter. According to him, the country remains shackled by corruption as the same people, who swore to uphold and enforce the law, perpetrate the corrupt activities.
“Corruption, on the other hand, is a different animal, so to speak. It is perpetrated by the same people… who take advantage and hide under a cloak known as the presumption of regularity,” he added.
Andanar also emphasized that the crackdown on corrupt activities requires time and effort and that the PACC should have “fangs that are very sharp, long, and lethal enough to be able to exterminate corruption with facility and speed.”
“Yes, the odds may be stacked against us in this particular campaign. But allow me to remind everyone in this room that the President has been trailblazing since he took office. Ideas that seemed impossible then are now a reality,” he added.
Meanwhile, PACC Chairman Dante Jimenez, who led this year’s “Ulat sa Bayan,” echoed Andanar’s remark that corruption is a serious problem in the country.
“It runs counter to the government’s efforts at helping our countrymen get a better life, because it rewards those who steal public funds to enrich themselves at the expense of the ordinary Filipino,” Jimenez said.
In his speech, the PACC chief also shared the progress of the commission’s fact-finding accomplishments.
“Upon evaluation of the PACC’s Technical, Cases, and Records Monitoring Division of all the actionable documents, 91 cases were referred to the investigation service for fact-finding investigation,” he added.
The PACC has also completed 45 fact-finding investigations and there are currently 46 ongoing investigations, 20 cases were pre-charged evaluation reports, and 25 cases were closed and terminated.
Jimenez also highlighted that the commission has conducted lifestyle checks on all government employees. It can be recalled that the PACC completed its first voluntary lifestyle check on former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol last June 2019.
Jimenez said that after Secretary Pinol, other officials voluntarily submitted themselves to undergo a lifestyle check. He named officials such as Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, and Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who have all recently issued directives to their respective department officials to participate in the lifestyle checks of the PACC.
PACC also warned heads of different local government units (LGUs) in the country to be on the lookout as they top the commission’s list of corrupt government entities. According to Jimenez, LGUs are the subject of the highest number of corruption complaints and they will be coordinating with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to look into these complaints.
“It just goes to show that we, at the PACC, are serious [in our mandate]. Local government units, watch out because you have the highest number of corruption complaints received by our office. LGUs, watch out!” he said.
As for the graft exposé related to the Super Typhoon Yolanda, the PACC chief shared that his office went to Tacloban to check on the rehabilitation process, which has been allegedly stalled and corrupted for almost six years since the calamity struck.
“Last week, Commissioner Luna, my staff, and I went there [Tacloban]. We saw that there is no real change there. It involves almost P4 billion housing [program] in some areas, and I understand they added P40 billion worth of projects. There are even approved donations from abroad,” he said.
“That’s why, what we did is to find out the tip of the iceberg in Eastern Samar, and I told Executive Director [Eduardo] Bringas: ‘We have to go on who was the mastermind behind this’,” Jimenez added. “The three H’s are the victims here. Housing, health, and highways.”
It can be recalled that the PACC has recommended to the Ombudsman the filing of charges against 12 officials of the National Housing Authority over the P800 million allocated for the housing project for the victims of the said typhoon in Eastern Samar.
Meanwhile, the PACC chief bared that the increased number of reports and complaints received by his office indicates an “awakened and vigilant citizenry, long frustrated in its desire for change in governance and transparency.”
“The constant pronouncements of the President against corruption, and his strong support for the proponents of his advocacy became a strong catalyst in enabling reforms in the bureaucracy,” he said.