PHISTAR EDITORIAL: MORE BUREAUCRATIC FAT / LACSON'S "OWN ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY"


MANILA, JULY 22, 2013 (PHILSTAR) A Supreme Court order is reportedly derailing the creation of another anti-corruption body tailor-made for former senator Panfilo Lacson.

Malacañang has made no secret of President Aquino’s plan to recruit Lacson into his team, but the retired senator is still a person looking for an office.

Being a former national police chief, Lacson’s name has surfaced in the past months as a possible Customs commissioner or head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.

Both positions, however, are not vacant, so the latest word is that a new body, tentatively called the Presidential Commission Against Corruption, would be formed to accommodate Lacson.

A Supreme Court ruling on the creation of the Truth Commission, however, declared that any new office created by the President needs the approval of Congress.

Apart from the SC ruling, Malacañang should also consider whether another anti-graft body is needed, especially one with police powers, as suggested by Lacson.

The battle against graft is complex, with the big fish who are implicated not surprisingly fighting back with the best lawyers. Large-scale corruption or plunder can put an offender away for life.

And those accused of plunder in this country often have enough resources for a protracted and expensive legal fight. This is a war that cannot be left to people with insufficient knowledge of the law and who tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

The anti-corruption campaign is spearheaded by the Office of the Ombudsman, which could use more resources to do a better job. The office is assisted, to a certain extent, by the Department of Justice, the Commission on Audit, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Anti-Money Laundering Task Force.

If President Aquino wants to pour additional resources into the campaign against corruption, he should give those resources to these existing agencies instead of creating another layer of bureaucracy.

The Arroyo administration also created its own anti-graft body, which was eventually dissolved.

If the President is bent on recruiting Lacson as part of his team, surely there is an existing office that can use the talents of the retired senator. The bureaucracy is bloated enough.
 

FROM THE INQUIRER

Lacson wants to be ‘long arm of law’ vs corrupt gov’t execs By Cathy Yamsuan Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:17 am | Monday, July 15th, 2013 6 121

MANILA, Philippines—Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson (photo) would like to head an anticorruption agency with its own operational capabilities and a law enforcement arm that would allow it to entrap government officials suspected of engaging in illegal activities.

In a radio interview Sunday, Lacson said he had submitted to President Aquino a draft executive order (EO) creating the anticorruption agency.

Lacson, however, said he was also bracing himself for the possibility the draft would be “watered down,” making the proposed body less effective.

Last year, President Aquino announced that Lacson and former Sen. Francis Pangilinan would be joining his Cabinet after their second six-year terms expired on June 30.

While Pangilinan is expected to join the Department of Agriculture or a related agency, Aquino said he wanted Lacson to assume a “more general” role in his administration.

Following Lacson’s stint as director general of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force before becoming a senator in 2001, observers expect him to take a role involving crime fighting.

Lacson noted that the draft EO detailing his new job description had been submitted to Malacañang. He recalled asking the President to examine his proposal.

Lacson said his EO detailed a law enforcement agency with heavy focus against corruption. He noted that while the Ombudsman investigated cases of graft and corruption and the Sandiganbayan tried cases with probable cause, “there is no strong law enforcement component” that goes after suspects.

“Kulang sa aparato (Lacking in devices)” was how the former senator described government efforts to combat corruption.

He noted that while the National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP were both authorized to go after government officials suspected of corruption, “there is no dedicated agency that would complement the work of the Ombudsman.”

“So there is a vacuum in the law enforcement aspect. This is what I want to fill, have a dedicated government unit that would focus on an anticorruption campaign,” Lacson said.

He said he and the President had agreed “in principle” about how the anticorruption agency would function.

“The President said he wanted the proposal studied but, of course, he would be the one to sign the EO, if ever,” Lacson said.

The former senator said he was not dismissing the possibility that not all of his suggestions would make it to the final copy of the EO.

“It’s possible that along the way, some suggestions would be changed. It might be watered down and turned into a paper agency… I hope this doesn’t happen because the agency might lose its effectivity, if it is turned into a purely coordinative body,” he said.

 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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