P700 B lost to corruption – Deputy Ombudsman

Published August 16, 2019, 4:40 PM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By Vanne Terrazola 

A “benevolent dictator” is what the Philippines needs to finally end corruption in the government, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday.

Office of the Ombudsman (MANILA BULLETIN)
Office of the Ombudsman (MANILA BULLETIN)

The Senate chief aired this belief after Deputy Ombudsman Cyril Ramos said Thursday that the country loses about P700 billion from the annual national budget due to corruption.

Ramos, in an anti-crime prevention summit, said the amount equates to millions of poor Filipinos being deprived of access to housing and medical assistance, as well as food.

Asked for his recommendation on how to limit, if not put an end to the prevailing problem, Sotto admitted that there might not have a quick fix for it.

“I cannot think of an outright solution except to have a benevolent dictator. Remove everyone with a whiff of corruption,” Sotto said in a text message.

In the meantime, he said measures for “moral regeneration of the entire bureaucracy” can at least address it.

Senator Joel Villanueva, for his part, said the passage of the freedom of information law could be a key to help stop the corruption of government funds.

“A significant reform that we can do would be to pass freedom of information (FOI) law. This will improve public accountability,” Villanueva said.

The proposed People’s Freedom of Information Act failed to hurdle the Senate in the 17th Congress. Senate records showed it only went as far as the committee on public information’s endorsement for plenary discussion on October 2016. It has not advanced since then.

In the current 18th Congress, senators are pushing for the passage of the FOI law. Six bills have so far been filed on the matter by Senators Grace Poe, Francis Pangilinan, Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros and Villanueva, according to the Senate website.

Villanueva appealed to his colleagues to pass the bill. “I really hope we can prioritize this,” he said.