PCGG commissioner proposes anti-corruption roadmap

By Anna Valmero

PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA – Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) commissioner Gerard Mosquera is suggesting a seven-year roadmap to fight corruption in the government.

“To fight corruption, we need a roadmap that focuses on a three-pronged approach to corruption: deterrence, prevention and education of the public as well as an agency to implement it,” said Mosquera.

“There is an urgent need for this roadmap because corruption causes poverty and compromises the rule of law,” the PCGG official said in an interview.

Mosquera is one of four nominees named to replace Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni, who resigned last April.

With over 12 years of experience as an anti-corruption specialist, Mosquera welcomes the “opportunity” to be a Deputy Ombudsman and institute changes in the agency, which has been the subject of several controversies.

Prior to joining PCGG, Mosquera received the Lucius Littauer award for academic excellence and leadership at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 2010. He also served as chief of party of US AID's anti-corruption program on Timor-Leste.

He also served as chapter president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in his hometown of General Santos City and in the provinces of South Cotabato and Saranggani.

“In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is the only country without an anti-corruption roadmap,” said Mosquera, noting other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia instituted their anti-corruption roadmap between 1960 and 1980.

For example, in 2004, Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono created a national plan against corruption and for the first time, Indonesia scored higher than the Philippines in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International in 2009 and 2010.

Mosquera believes a seven-year anti-corruption roadmap can be implemented in the country.

“During the first phase, or first six months, it could bring quick successes by arresting 25 high profile public officials for corruption to show the government is serious about the job; during the second phase or first three years, institute transparency reforms and forge multi-sectoral partnerships, and during the third phase, from the third to seventh year, implement a long-term public education program about the prevention and deterrence of corruption,” he explained.

To implement the program, he said the Office of the Ombudsman should form an anti-corruption team composed of Philippine National Police, Department of Justice, Commission on Audit, engineers, bank examiners and computer forensics specialists.

To fast track resolution of corruption cases, Mosquera noted that the Office of the Ombudsman should focus on high-profile cases or those involving high ranking Cabinet officials or agency heads or cases that involve at least P50 million.

He said the Ombudsman should focus on cases such as the plea bargain agreement by former military comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia, the case of the “Euro generals” and the NBN-ZTE deal.

Instead of having a quota for a month, the office of the Ombudsman should solve all cases filed within the month plus backlog additional cases to decongest court dockets.

Petty cases such as kotong cops (or those accused of bribery) should be designated to lower tribunals while cases involving public officials below Salary Grade 28 or equivalent to P1 million should be delegated to a Deputy Ombudsman.

During the time of former Ombudsman Merci Guttierez, she centralized the powers of her position so that most cases were left unresolved. Because of limited time and resources, it is better for the Office of the Ombudsman to solve cases involving bureau chiefs who can sign a P100 million contract and get P10 million as commission, said Mosquera.

Moreover, he  noted quick administrative reforms and transparency measures needed at the Office of the Ombudsman include a password-protected online system that parties can access to verify and monitor status of cases and the creation of an accountability committee to prevent corruption in the agency.

Mosquera also called for the abolition of the resident ombudsman program, under which all resident ombudsmen deployed to government agencies will be recalled to the central office for re-assignment. This is to eliminate tenure that can lead to corruption.

The General Santos native also urged amending Republic Act 6770 to transfer all prosecution powers to the Office of the Special Prosecutor “so the Office of the Ombudsman can focus on public assistance and investigation functions, fact-finding and evidence build-up”.

Under the proposed amendment, Mosquera said there should be a provision on non-conviction-based forfeiture system, under which government can seize and sell assets, funds and properties shown to be fruits of corruption or fraudulent activities without waiting for criminal conviction.

The passage of the Freedom of Information bill will also boost this anti-corruption strategy so that the public are given access to and can investigate government transactions with transparency, he added.

According to him, enough political will, public support, complementary institutions, resources, legal framework and stamina “to see the program is achieved from start to finish” would be needed,

“Our president (Aquino) has been sincere since his first day at office to solve the corruption problem in the country,” he said, adding he will push for this anti-corruption plan even if he isn't named Deputy Ombudsman.

***

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