MANILA,  August 4, 2004
By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo announced yesterday that she would personally head her newly created Presidential Commission on Values Formation (PCVF) with "high profile religious personalities" among those sitting in the 11-man body.

Mrs. Arroyo made the announcement of her new job to Cabinet members and lawmakers who attended the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting.

Following the Ledac meeting, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye told reporters that Mrs. Arroyo intends "to personally" take charge of the anti-corruption campaign through values formation.

"I will chair it (PCVF) myself," Bunye quoted the President as having told the Ledac meeting.

"The President mentioned that she herself will be chairing the Commission," he said.

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo expressed her intentions to invite top religious leaders to sit in the body.

Among the top personalities to be invited to sit in the PCVF are Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales; Eraño "Ka Erdie" Manalo of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC); Bro. Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai charismatic movement; Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord movement; Bishop Efraim Tendero of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and Bishop Apollo Quiboloy of the Jesus Miracle Crusade.

Bunye, however, said he was not aware if any of the religious leaders mentioned by the President have already accepted the invitation.

"But we’re optimistic most of them would be willing to share their time, their expertise and their knowledge on how to further push this program of the President," Bunye said.

Villanueva, who ran but lost to Mrs. Arroyo in the May presidential race, earlier rejected the President’s invitation to be her adviser.

Offhand, Bunye brushed aside concerns that the appointment of religious leaders in the PCVF might be construed as a violation of the constitutional principle of the separation of the Church and State.

"I don’t think this is really an issue. What is important there is a self need for values inculcation and some of the persons mentioned are perceived to be very effective as far as pushing this agenda is concerned," Bunye pointed out.

He said the "inculcation of values" in schools and various government institutions through the PCVF was third in the "three-pronged" approach in the war against graft and corruption.

The two other approaches, Bunye said, are the strong implementation of the law and the adoption of systems designed to reduce anomalies and irregularities in government transactions.

"The President feels that we have to come up with an integrated approach if you want to solve the problem of corruption, which has been with us for a long time and you cannot solve it by just enforcement of laws," Bunye said.

"You cannot solve it by just improving the system. You really have to improve the orientation of the people who are running the system," Bunye added.

The President signed Executive Order No. 314 on April 30 which created the PCVF.

The original plan was for a chairperson, with the rank of presidential adviser, to head PCVF with six members to be appointed by the President.

Mrs. Arroyo subsequently amended the order on June 8 where the President will head PCFV, whose membership was expanded to ten.

"The President feels that (it is) a very important body and the program really is (her) priority ... and she would like to personally chair this Commission," Bunye said. "The President feels that the fight against corruption merits her personal attention."

Mrs. Arroyo has empowered the PCVF to lead government efforts in coordinating with civil society groups and the private sector for the establishment of a strong foundation for moral value formation in the bureaucracy.

She also tasked the PCVF "to make periodic recommendations" with regard to duly supported and substantiated information on corrupt government personnel.

The executive order also empowers the PCFV to be the complainant in any graft case filed pursuant to the recommendations made by the commission.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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