OPINION: THE CORRUPT PROBING THEIR FELLOW CORRUPT?
 

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 30, 2013 (PHILSTAR) POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. WHO’LL BE LEFT STANDING?: The Senate Yellow Ribbon committee should hold a final hearing soonest — but only to listen to the public confession of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles — then disband in the name of sanity and decency.

The public can no longer put up with this Senate charade, performed at great taxpayers’ expense, of the corrupt investigating the corrupt.

There should be some way of forcing the senators who have dipped their sticky fingers into the pork barrel to return at least 99 percent of the loot as an initial act of restitution to mitigate the plunder.

After that penitential act, the Yellow Ribbon committee can self-destruct. Senators who want a closer view of big-time corruption in government can just look at themselves in the mirror. That solo act is less oppressive to taxpayers.

Hopefully, the senators can then return to their primary job, which is lawmaking.

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WHISTLEBLOWERS: Since most government officials are not ready and willing to curb corruption (precisely many of them run for office to partake of the fruits of corruption), the people themselves may have to take the bull by the horns.

We tossed the problem to former congressman Willy Villarama when he joined us the other Friday at the breakfast forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) at its Bale Balita (House of News) at the Clark Freeport.

Villarama said that the pork barrel scam was a result of a weak and corrupt system that only the involvement of a vigilant public — including courageous whistleblowers like those in the Napoles caper — can minimize.

Whistleblowers blew the lid off the multibillion-peso hijacking of lawmakers’ pork barrel (Priority Development Assistance Funds). Notable among them was Benhur Luy, a nephew and former employee of Napoles, whose revelations have shaken the foundation of the rotten system.

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CITIZENS’ WATCH: Taking off from the pork scandal and similar experience of other countries battling government corruption, Villarama proposed the creation of vigilante groups to operate as imbedded whistleblowers.

“People of goodwill must be whistleblowers to check the activities of grafters and corrupt members of our society,” Villarama said. In government agencies, he added, these could be insiders.

He batted for the adoption of a system that encourages and protects government workers in monitoring operations and reporting anomalies without jeopardizing their personal security and tenure.

He said the reporting system can be backed up by a strong community network that will follow up cases and engage in a “shame them” campaign against officials who refuse to resign or mend their ways.

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FOREIGN MODELS: Villarama noted that a growing number of countries have taken steps to lick corruption in all sectors by encouraging “whistleblowing” by citizens, especially in government and in private enterprises imbued with public interest.

The United States, for instance, enacted The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 to encourage people to report law violations, gross waste of funds, and abuse of authority by federal employees.

It also put in place a “Whistleblower Protection Program” run by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to shield personnel who report violations in work places, such as airlines, commercial motor carriers and consumer product manufacturers.

India’s private group, Janaagraha, has even started to operate a website – ipaidbribe.com – to encourage citizens to help curb corruption.

Brazil recently followed suit in the global trend to fight corruption by passing Law 12,846 on Aug. 1, 1913, imposing stiff administrative and criminal sanctions against foreign and domestic companies that bribe government officials.

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GROWTH PLANS: Another guest at Bale Balita the other day was Mabalacat City Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales who outlined an ambitious development plan to transform the new city into a Makati of Central Luzon.

Many things conspire to make Morales’ dream come true. It has ample flood-free space for growth and is a prime location with main Luzon arteries (North Luzon Expressway, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the MacArthur Highway) leading to it.

A built-in catalyst for development is its sprawling world-class airport that could be, if the political demigods in Manila would allow it, the alternate premier international gateway to Luzon.

The only missing link to this aeropolis plan is a fast-track rail/road link to Manila that will rush airline passengers and goods to and from the national capital in 40 minutes or less. Plans for it are at an advance stage.

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FUNDS AVAILABLE: Mabalacat has around 90 percent of the original Clark air base that the Americans returned in 1992 already with a top-quality airstrip that can take the biggest aircraft there is. A similar strip has been built beside it.

By law, this dominant city gets two percent of gross earnings of all Clark locators within its area in the Freeport. That amounts to some P180 million a year.

That share, plus the P250-million Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government, the millions in assistance being pumped in by Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, and the city’s collections add up to a sizeable sum that keep development moving.

Morales has scheduled in early October a summit of all stakeholders involved in or affected by the planned development under the city’s P705-million annual budget. The meeting will take stock, plan and serve as consultative body.

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INTERMENT: The late Magdalena Ernani Carillo Lopez of Angeles City who died last Sept. 24 will be buried today at the Holy Mary Memorial Park in the city after the 9:30 a.m. mass at Chapel I of the memorial park. She was the mother of Sonny Lopez, manager of the Public Relations Dept. of Clark Development Corp.



Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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