EDITORIAL: PLUG THE LOOPHOLES
 

MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2013 (PHILSTAR) With all the scandals involving public fund utilization, loopholes that can be exploited for corruption and abuse of power are being exposed. As the problems are pinpointed, the national leadership is expected to plug these loopholes.

Among the reforms expected are measures to end lawmakers’ carte blanche in the utilization of millions of pesos in lump sums allotted to each of them under the pork barrel system.

Natural calamities and other contingencies require the maintenance of discretionary funds, which are speedily disbursed and allow for a quick response. Much of the funds are under the Office of the President. With the anti-corruption campaign a cornerstone of his administration, however, President Aquino should ensure that there is a clear system of accounting for the utilization of discretionary funds.

In coordination with Congress, the President will also have to minimize his exercise of discretion over public funds and introduce more transparency and accountability in their utilization.

This is if he is sincere in his commitment to eliminate the pork barrel as we know it – a system that has allowed elected officials to tap public coffers as their private piggybank.

One loophole that can be quickly plugged is the martial law-era decree that created the Malampaya fund.

Presidential Decree 910, passed by Ferdinand Marcos on March 22, 1976, created a “Special Fund” sourced from government earnings from energy-related activities. Section 8 of the decree states that the fund must be used for “energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government.”

But the provision also states that the fund can be used “for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President.”

“For such other purposes” can be given the broadest interpretation, with all the opportunities for corruption that it brings.

After nearly four decades, it’s time to close this window of opportunity for abuse, so that an energy fund can be used for its avowed purpose.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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