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Oct 01st
Home Sections Politics Minimizing Philippine Corruption
Minimizing Philippine Corruption PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 12 February 2008 13:36

The author is the president of the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa). This is Part III of a series of articles.  


This writer received many encouraging comments on his article RP Corruption Manageable by 2010 that the published. Moreover, I was able to reach some captains of industry in the Philippines about our new governance and anticorruption (GAC) strategy.

The strategy would enable businessmen who have obtained government, nay, illegal favors from the Marcos to the Arroyo administrations to make endowments to the proposed Philippine Recovery and Anticorruption Fund (PRAF) as quid pro quo to avoid corruption charges that Pamusa can document and submit to the FBI for possible prosecution in the United States.

This may be the fastest way for the fruits of corruption to be put to good use and alleviate the sufferings of our people from its Siamese twin, poverty. Corruption and poverty are two sides of the same coin that has doomed every Philippine development plan since the end of WW II.

The Philippine economy was second only to Japan’s up to 1965.

Filipinos born in the 1960s onward should know that the Philippine economic growth was second only to Japan’s up to 1965 and ahead of Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia. The latter countries’ economic development took off with the escalation of Vietnam War in the mid-60s leaving the Philippines behind since then.

Our economy began lagging when President Diosdado Macapagal, President Arroyo's father, lifted import and foreign-exchange controls in 1962 without thinking through the downsides it could not withstand. Then, with unabated corruption, cronyism and rapacity of the Marcos’ 20-year rule, our country became like a bus with growing number of passengers (population) going downhill with the same old engine and faulty brakes.

The return of democracy and rule of law but still with traditional politics under Cory Aquino revived business confidence of domestic and foreign investors. Although Honasan's coup attempts caused setbacks, Fidel Ramos halted the economy's slide and built up possible take-off thrust. But Joseph Estrada and Arroyo allowed unbridled corruption that devastated the economy and pushed any recovery farther away than the eyes could see. 

Fellow Filipinos and I organized the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa) in our belief that we can address corruption under the U.N. Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and President Bush's International Initiative to Combat Kleptocracy. Pamusa's organizers, supporters and volunteers (who remain anonymous) have labored and came up with a proposed solution to reduce corruption that I conceptualized and discussed in this series of articles.

Two-pronged solution against corruption may work.

The solution is in two parts, to wit: Pamusa's new GAC strategy offers settlement of illicit gains from corruption to be invested in PRAF that would address the underlying causes of corruption and poverty. Pamusa’s leverage is that by submitting evidence of corruption, the FBI would investigate and determine if U.S. Attorneys can prosecute past and present Filipino officials including immediate family members and close associates, or individuals and businessmen that conspired with them and amassed wealth from corrupt practices.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has testified before the Sandiganbayan that the proofs that confirmed his father – thus his heirs – was the owner of 60% of LucioBongbong’s testimony or any relevant evidence from the Pamusa would enable FBI to access those documents. Tan’s companies were with the documents seized by U.S. Customs when the former President and party arrived in Honolulu in the wake of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolt. I learned that

However, it is impossible for Pamusa’s limited resources to gather evidence, submit it to FBI and sue all suspected Marcos’ cronies including corrupt officials and co-conspirators of subsequent administrations up to the present to recover their illicit assets. Of course, we cherry-pick the cronies and let the chips fall on a few. This strategy, however, may seem to cloud the Pamusa’s efforts with charges of favoritism, if not an unjust tactic, that should be avoided.

For the sake of clarity, fruits of corruption are stolen government resources including foreign-aid funds, gains from unlawful businesses such as smuggling, drug trade, jueteng (numbers’ game), etc., and unexplained wealth such as overseas investments and bank deposits not declared in corporate reporting and tax returns in the Philippines.

The U.S. Treasury Department—at the FBI’s behest—can request the Chinese Government to inventory a Chinese-Filipino’s investments in China and match them with Philippine records. Hence, the difference (in Philippine income vs. the investment in China) probably came from corruption.

Antonio Maria Costa is the executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.At this juncture, let me quote some passages from a statement of Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, in implementing the UNCAC, to wit:

“Time and time again, countries’ assets have been looted by corrupt leaders, while in the corporate world many shareholders have been robbed by corrupt managers. This Convention demonstrates that Governments are no longer prepared to tolerate a destructive practice which is as old as history and as wide as the globe. It gives nations the legal tools they need to transform their economies.

“The tough new provisions on asset recovery represent a major breakthrough. The fact that nowhere in the world will be exempt from the obligation to return looted assets, and old excuses such as banking secrecy will no longer be an impediment will be of major assistance in preventing corruption.

“States are required to return money and other assets obtained through corruption to the country from which they were stolen. This sends a warning to corrupt officials everywhere that they can no longer expect to enjoy the fruits of their crimes by moving stolen assets abroad. It is also a message of hope to millions of people who have grown angry and frustrated at seeing their country’s wealth plundered by criminals.”

On the other hand, President Bush’s initiative has mandated a U.S. interagency anticorruption team (USIAT) of the U.S. Departments of State, the Treasury, Justice, and Homeland Security and all agencies under them to implement the UNCAC, as follows:

“Targeting the Proceeds of Grand Corruption: A critical element in our fight against grand corruption is our effort to deny kleptocrats access to fruits of their corruption. The United States has a wide range of mechanisms to prevent, detect, and prosecute grand corruption, and trace and recover the proceeds of such corruption. We employ the full range of our authorities and tools in a comprehensive, strategic way to target assets misappropriated by current and former senior foreign government or political officials, their close associates and immediate family members, or other politically-exposed persons.”

Pamusa’s principal mission is to set examples of the nefariously corrupt to hang like a "sword of Damocles" over the heads of government and private-sector officials, employees and workers, so that the general population would abhor corruption. And perhaps renew a mindset before WW II that anyone who engages in corruption will surely go to jail when and if caught.

Pamusa is not an avenging angel to punish businessmen that had the opportunity to enrich themselves by conspiring with the powers-that-be. This is human nature. Thus, to be fair, we urge those tainted with corruption to step up and voluntarily settle the charges that their assets were fruits of corruption. There would be no questions asked for those who take advantage of this offer. 

The people that ignore this offer would be prosecuted under RICO (Racketeer- Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act. When found guilty they would be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years per racketeering count. Corruption is a series of bribery and fraudulent acts which are predicated crimes of RICO, each punishable by a $25,000 fine and/or up to 20 years in jail.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2008 13:45

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