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FORM INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE VS CORRUPTION – GO

Senator Bong Go said he will be recommending to President Rodrigo Duterte the creation of an inter-agency task force that will employ a whole-of-government approach in the ongoing efforts to end deep-rooted and systemic corruption plaguing the whole bureaucracy.

This came after reports of continuing prevalent corruption in numerous agencies, including the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and even in the agriculture sector through reported rice smuggling, among others.

“Exasperated na po si Pangulong Duterte dahil sa korapsyon sa gobyerno (President Duterte is already exasperated because of corruption in the government),” Go said.

The legislator likened the corruption to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has significantly changed the normal life of the people.

“It is important to remove the ‘bad eggs’ para hindi na makasira pa sa serbisyo ng gobyerno o makahawa pa sa mga ibang kawani ng gobyerno na nais lang magsilbi sa kapwa Pilipino (so that it will not derail government services or will infect other government employees who want to serve the Filipino people),” the lawmaker said.

The senator said the proposed task force may be modeled after the previous task force created to investigate PhilHealth. Its scope, however, should cover all government agencies and should be allowed to operate until Duterte ends his term in 2022.

“Bilang isang Senador, ito ang rekomendasyon ko sa Pangulo — na mag-designate siya ng task force, katulad ng ginawa natin hinggil sa katiwalian sa PhilHealth (As senator, this is my recommendation to the President — that he designates a task force like the one formed to probe corruption in PhilHealth),” he said adding that this is in support of the President’s campaign against corruption.

Go said he recently discussed the matter with Duterte who gave directives to intensify further the campaign against corruption and put an end to the continuing existence of anomalous practices plaguing the bureaucracy.

“I’ve talked to the President and he said he will seriously go against corrupt officials in the final one year and eight months of his administration.”

“Nagkausap kami ng Pangulo at sabi niya na tuluyan ang mga dapat tuluyan sa kanyang one year and eight months na natitirang panunungkulan (I’ve talk to the President and he said he will seriously go against corrupt officials in the final one year and eight months of his administration),” he stressed. 

Go added that they will not hesitate to impose a crackdown on all forms of corruption, such as smuggling in BOC, “pastillas” bribery scheme at Immigration, anomalies in PhilHealth, and bribery in DPWH.

“Gusto ng Pangulo na mag-iwan ng pagbabago sa bansa lalo na sa kampanya laban sa korapsyon — pagbabagong ramdam dapat ng taumbayan. Gusto niya maalala ng tao na nilabanan niya lahat ng corruption sa gobyerno (the President wants to leave change in his country specifically the campaign against corruption — change that will be felt by the people. He wants people to be remembered that he fought corruption),” he said.

Go emphasized that Duterte enjoys overwhelmingly high approval ratings because Filipinos see the sincerity of his leadership to improve public service delivery by putting an end to corruption, criminality, and illegal drugs.

“Nangako ang Pangulo na lalabanan niya ang korapsyon until the last day of his term. Iyan ang campaign promise niya. Kaya siya binoto ng tao at patuloy siyang sinusuportahan at pinagkakatiwalaan ay dahil naniniwala tayong tinutupad niya ito (The President promised to fight corruption until the last day of his term. That was his campaign promise. He was elected and continues to enjoy support of the people because the people believe that he is fulfilling it),” he stressed.

In his previous pronouncements, Duterte pointed out the presence of corruption in the DPWH, prompting DPWH Secretary Mark Villar to come up with an internal special task force that will look into these allegations.

Go lauded Villar’s decision, calling it a step towards the right direction, but recommended that a whole-of-government approach is necessary to solve corruption.

“Matagal na itong corruption sa public works. It has existed for around half a century already. Bata pa lang ako ay laganap na ‘yan. Kaya kailangan natin magtulungan kung gusto nating matigil ang kalakarang ito (Corruption has been in public works for a long time. It has existed for around half a century. Corruption is there even when I was still young. We need to help each other if we want to stop this),” he said.

Go emphasized that eradicating corruption must involve all concerned agencies, with the help of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, as well as all branches of government.

Similar to the Task Force on PhilHealth, he is recommending that this inter-agency body will be mandated to investigate all agencies plagued by systemic corruption, prosecute and file charges, audit funds, conduct lifestyle checks, recommend suspensions, and put to jail those proven guilty.

Go said there should be “no sacred cows” and every official must take responsibility in cleansing their ranks.

He also recommended imposing preventive suspensions on suspected corrupt officials in order to preserve the integrity of the probe.

“No one should be spared. Let’s go find corruption from the lowest to the highest ranks.”

“Wala tayong sasantuhin. Dapat tugisin mula sa pinakababa hanggang sa pinakamataas na rangko. Siguraduhin dapat na walang sabwatan na mangyayari para malaman ng taumbayan ang katotohanan (No one should be spared. Let’s go find corruption from lowest to the highest ranks. Make sure that no connivance will occur so that people will know the truth),” Go said, emphasizing Duterte’s warning that he will not tolerate “even a whiff of corruption”.

He also highlighted the need to conduct lifestyle checks in order to identify government workers who live beyond their means.

“Itong lifestyle check, napakaimportante po nito dahil marami pong living beyond their means. Tingnan dapat magkano lang ‘yung sweldo tapos ‘yung buhay naman nila ay parang milyonaryo. Iyan ang dapat isiwalat at ipakita sa publiko kung bakit ganito ang style ng inyong pamumuhay pero eto lang ang inyong sweldo (This lifestyle check, this is very important because many are living beyond their means. Let’s check their salaries while living like millionaires. That should be revealed to the people),” Go added.

By encouraging the public to take a stand and report anomalies happening, he firmly believes public servants will adhere more to the values and standards set forth under Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Magtiwala kayo sa gobyerno. Alam ninyo, hindi tayo aasenso kung hindi kayo magre-report. Eh, paano natin huhulihin ‘yung mga corrupt kung hindi ninyo naman isusumbong sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte? Bukas po ang aming tanggapan para diyan (Trust the government. You know we will not progress if you will not report. How can we catch the corrupt if you will not report them to President Duterte? Our office is always open),” Go concluded.

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