(STAR) By Artemio Dumlao - Sen. Francis Pangilinan is urging Malacañang to immediately increase the pay of prosecutors or fiscals to reduce their vulnerability to bribes.

The senator said the government must push for the implementation of the salary standardization of government workers in order to discourage bribery and corruption in government.

“The important role of government prosecutors in the fight against criminality and lawlessness has been the main reason for the commission of bribery and corruption,” Pangilinan said.

According to the National Prosecution Service, an estimated 30 percent vacancy rate, or over 400 prosecutor positions, are vacant due to low compensation.

It is also reported that a janitor at the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is paid more than a first level prosecutor at the DOJ.

“Government prosecutors are underpaid and overworked. Unless we raise the salaries of the prosecutors, bribery and corruption will continue to thrive in government. Keeping our prosecutors honest with their low pay is to prepare them for sainthood,” Pangilinan added.

Meanwhile, Speaker Prospero Nograles commended Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, chief of the Special Enforcement Service of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) “for working with the system to correct its flaws.”

In line with this, Nograles has reportedly directed the House Oversight Committee on Drugs to probe the so-called “Alabang Boys” drug case.

He has recommended a full-blown review of the operational coordination between the DOJ and the country’s law enforcement agencies, especially those involved in the anti-drug campaign, Gil Bugaoisan, public relations officer of Nograles, said.

The Speaker also recommended that Marcelino be given full protection to ensure his safety during the course of the congressional inquiry.

“Major Marcelino is a rare breed of soldier. Unlike others who choose to attack and destroy the government on the basis of some allegations, he decided to work with the system in order to correct what is wrong with our government institutions,” he said.

Nograles insists that the people need not go out on the streets to join rallies or take over hotels and threaten to bring down the government to correct the flaws in government.

“We can work hand in hand with our government institutions to correct some of its flaws,” he said.

Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara seconded Nograles’ position, pointing out that the “Alabang Boys” controversy shows that public vigilance is the best security that laws are enforced without fear or favor.

“The government is not perfect and therefore we need the public to exercise continuing vigilance over our law enforcement and judicial agencies to make sure that criminal elements and lawbreakers do not escape prosecution and just punishment,” Angara said.

Nograles said the DOJ and law enforcement agencies need to establish more viable operational partnerships. “They should be complementing each other in combating the menace of narcotics trafficking,” he said.

While the bribery issue on the “Alabang Boys” controversy may be hard to establish without any money trail, Nograles believes that the circumstances leading to the dismissal of the case by the prosecution are highly questionable.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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