Gov’t told to increase budgets of oversight bodies vs corruption

THE PHILIPPINE government should increase the budget of its three oversight agencies as part of its anti-corruption drive, a local think tank said on Thursday.

The Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit and Office of the Ombudsman should all get a bigger budget to make them more effective, Francisco A. Magno, a convenor of Stratbase ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies, told an online forum on Thursday.

The funds would also let them hire more people, he said.

“This would ensure that public accountability measures are supplemented by social accountability mechanisms that keep government officials open, honest and accountable,” Mr. Magno said.

He sought the passage of bills strengthening the Ombudsman and the full enforcement of the National Anti-Corruption and Advocacy Plan, as well as the country’s commitment to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez earlier endorsed a list of anti-corruption measures to the House of Representatives leadership including one that seeks to give the Ombudsman a 30% share in any properties forfeited in favor of the state.

Twin bills also seek to include anti-corruption and governance in the basic education and higher education curricula. There is also a bill that will protect whistleblowers.

Mr. Magno said the government “appears to be singularly focused on investigation as its anti-corruption program.” “Every agency of the government has to establish effective internal control systems to prevent corruption,” he added.

At the same forum, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the lack of accountability in the allocation and distribution of economic stimulus packages had increased the risk of corruption.

The public should keep watch of those in power, she said. “If these leaders seriously fail in their use of power, it will not go unpunished.”

President Rodrigo R. Duterte had sought emergency powers to address the coronavirus pandemic.

His allies in Congress had also tried to give him additional powers to solve various problems including traffic congestion and corruption. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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