Culture Of Corruption In Bulan

by Bulaneño

 

To Jun Asuncion:

The issue about the Bulan Integrated Bus Terminal and the Bulan Municipal Slaughterhouse particularly the audit findings of the Commission on Audit is not a political issue. It is an issue about public accountability and graft and corruption. To quote from the comment of PIO-Bulan (Mr. Tonyboy Gilana) to the Bulaneño Blog (www.bulaneno.wordpress.com), he posted: “The Terminal issue is a justiciable issue which only the courts of the land can finally adjudicate. This battle can go on up to the Supreme Court, and by then we shall know who speaks the truth. Only then can one or the other party say that he is vindicated. There is no Pandora’s Box here. No one among us can impute guilt against anybody, unless proven by the Court. Again, this is a constitutionally-enshrined provision.”

Though it is a “justiciable issue” the Municipal Information Officer of Bulan should be reminded that the accountability of public officials is also enshrined in the Constitution of 1987, as it has been in the Malolos Constitution of 1898, the Commonwealth Constitution of 1935 and then the Constitution of 1973, the Martial Law period. Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, entitled “Accountability of Public Officers”, states the fundamental principle of public office, as public trust. It requires full accountability and integrity among public officers and employees. The President, Vice-President, members of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman may be impeached for violations of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and for betrayal of public trust. Other public officials committing such acts can be investigated and prosecuted through the regular judicial process provided by law.

The Philippine government is directed to maintain honesty and integrity in the public service, and to take action against graft and corruption (Section 27, Art. II). It is also directed to give full public disclosure of all transactions involving the public interest (Section 28, Art. II). This provision is complemented by the Bill of Rights within the Constitution, which gives people the right to information on matters of public concern, including official records, documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, and to government research data used as the basis for policy development (Section 7, Art. III).

The 1987 Constitution established special independent bodies to support the principles of honesty, integrity and public accountability. These are: (i) the Office of the Ombudsman as the people’s protector and watchdog; (ii) the Civil Service Commission as the central personnel agency; (iii) the Commission on Audit as the supreme body responsible for auditing the government’s expenditures and performance; and (iv) The Sandiganbayan as a special court that hears cases of graft and corruption. To ensure that these organizations and their commissioners can fulfill their duties without fear of reprisal from other agencies of the government, the Constitution grants them fiscal autonomy7 (Section 2, Article VIII). Their actions are appealable only to the Supreme Court.

The Commission on Audit, while primarily regarded as an evaluator of the government’s performance in handling funds, also has as a function on the input side, as it conducts audits on the income and revenues of government. Aside from ensuring financial accountability, the Commission may also inquire as to the effectiveness and impact of programs, and not alone into the economy, efficiency or the legality and regularity of government operations. The COA, being the watchdog of the financial operations of the government, is empowered to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property under the custody of government agencies and instrumentalities. It promulgates accounting and auditing rules and regulations for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures, or use of government funds and properties.

As government officials, the local chief executive and her subordinates must not be onion-skinned in addressing valid queries on the efficiency, legality and regularity of local government operations such as the operations of the bus terminal and slaughterhouse. As public officers and employees, they must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. They must refrain from invoking that the findings of COA involve questions of law that must be addressed only in a court of law. Some of the findings of COA involves questions of facts such as: (a) failure to submit monthly report of official travels and report of fuel consumption of government vehicles; (b) failure to secure or apply for land use conversion and exemption clearance from the Agrarian Reform Regional Office; (c) failure to strictly observe and conform to the policy, standard and guidelines in the establishment, construction, improvement, and operation of Bulan Slaughterhouse; (d) failure to post a procurement opportunity with the PhilGEPS, to mention a few. These are clear facts that were discovered during the COA audit that the LGU had neglected or failed to perform in the implementation of the projects.

It should be noted that corruption poses a serious development challenge. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by flouting or even subverting formal processes. Corruption in elections and in legislative bodies reduces accountability and distorts representation in policymaking; corruption in the judiciary compromises the rule of law; and corruption in public administration results in the unfair provision of services. More generally, corruption erodes the institutional capacity of government as procedures are disregarded, resources are siphoned off, and public offices are bought and sold. At the same time, corruption undermines the legitimacy of government and such democratic values as trust and tolerance.

Corruption also generates economic distortions in the public sector by diverting public investment into capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful. Officials may increase the technical complexity of public sector projects to conceal or pave way for such dealings, thus further distorting investment. Corruption also lowers compliance with construction, environmental, or other regulations, reduces the quality of government services and infrastructure, and increases budgetary pressures on government.

Thus, as a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, or as an ordinary citizen of Bulan, I recognize that the struggle for preventing and fighting graft and corruption in government is a task entrusted not only with the government, but also with the civil society. It doesn’t need a citizen belonging to the local political opposition of Bulan to understand the social implications of the audit findings of COA to the ordinary Bulaneños. Corruption distorts access to services for the poor, results in local government’s poor performance and, consequently, low public confidence in government. The culture of corruption in Bulan breeds the vicious cycles of poverty and underdevelopment. /

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8 Comments

Filed under Bulaneño, Views and Concern

8 responses to “Culture Of Corruption In Bulan

  1. attybenji

    Makasasawa na ine na isyu san kurapsyon sa gobierno! Mapa-national o lokal man, puro nalang kurapsyon! Wara man sin nag-aamin kun sino an kurapto o makawat! Iba naman na topic siguro an pag-iristuryahan nato para maiba naman an atmosphere. Bahala na sa kanira maghusga an kinab-an, kay aram ko tabi dowa man lang an pwede nira pagpilian na destination kun maghukom na an mahal na diyos sa maabot na panahon – pwede sa impierno o purgatorio lang!

    There is nothing new about corruption, it has been around for a long time. As far as back 300 BC, the then Emperor Chandragupta of India, identified forty ways of embezzlement of funds by employees in the private sector and he had this to say about Government servants:

    “Just as it is impossible not to taste the honey or the poison that finds itself at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a Government servant not to eat up at least a bit of the King’s revenue”.

    Corruption is systemic and culturally ingrained in Philippine society. It is pervasive not only in government but in the private sector as well…

    Bulaneno, sino tabi didi sa kinab-an o sa pilipinas an maitutukdo mo na sayo na “accountable officer” (elected or appointed) sa gobierno na wara bahid sin kurapsyon? Kay mapusta ako, hehehe! wara ano?

  2. To attybenji, remember that at the very beginning the two of us were already discussing about using the term Progress instead of Corruption for the very reason that corruption is a very negative word and omnipresent anyway in the Philippine society and that this word itself has been corrupted already, that Progress sounds more positive and has a direction.

    I think it was in my post The Fight For Progress or the Future of Bulan. Much as we abhorred this word corruption from the beginning, it seems that there is no escaping from it. We can survive it by cultivating other interests. There is a classical concert in December in Zurich organized partly by Bulan Observer. Wanna come to refresh your mind by listening to a more pleasant sound? That’s good for the soul.

    After this classic event, I’ll be organizing myself An Evening Of Jazz and Blues early next year to continue with our fundraising campaign for the typhoon victims in the Philippines. This is a productive activity and helps me a lot in engaging my mind to cultural things where I meet also different interesting people. Thanks again for your constancy. jun asuncion

    —————-

    To Bulaneño, thank you for your post and for publishing Tonyboy Gilana’s comment in your site. This is already a good step to start with. Now that your concerns are partly published here in Bulan Observer, I think you have chosen a neutral ground where people can discuss, rate- or whatever- your arguments. We all know that the people of Bulan at home and abroad have the right to information about things concerning Bulan. This is one way of upgrading the political consciousness (a goal we have defined) of the people as opposed to “protecting” them from being informed. The people and voters of Bulan have a mind of their own so there is no reason to worry about them being confused by what they see and hear in and about Bulan.

    I have tried many times- yet in vain- to view the original online documents- if there were- of your circulated COA’s report concerning the Bulan Terminal and Slaughterhouse but the COA Website appears to be broken.

    In any case, they were hard facts as you said. So I surmise that these are not unknown to the Bulan LGU-officials headed by Mayor Helen De Castro. I also have the feeling that the people of Bulan already have knowledge of these issues for they are not new. But the details of the report are new to many, I suppose.

    This is an old case actually and as far as I know the Guyalas and petitioners already lost this case before the trial courts for several times as mentioned in the 2007, 2008 Mayor’s Report To The People of Bulan. Hence, all the major facts presented in your publication must have been deliberated already during the trials. Still, let the people who are interested in it visit your site.

    Your letter above is actually of general interest starting from the second paragraph and educational for you have talked about the relevant articles of the Constitution and the unpleasant effects of corruption in general. That’s good for the students in Bulan. These thoughts are what moved me to post your letter in front.

    The Commission On Audit is one among those still functioning offices in the Philippines that’s why the corruption-infested national government cut its budget for this 2009! This national adminisration is no lover of auditors. In this connection, I wonder how much the Arroyo’s administration had increased the budget of the office of the Philippine Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the watchdog of GMA and Co! The office of the Ombudsman as watchdog of the people? A joke in our case. A logic of greed powered administration converts the democratic institutions to mere watchdogs of the president and her families and allies instead of the people- the Supreme Court, the office of the ombudsman, some of the Military men, all are drawn to the center of the powerful Malacañang blackhole. Merciditas Gutierrez, Judge Resado, Bolante, DPHW executives, and so on and so forth, all have been reduced to her own watchdog morons.

    Now, we also are aware that your findings and accusations to the De Castro administration actually concern the office of the ombudsman, trial courts etc. Here in Bulan Observer we can at the most discuss these things and make them known to the people and also give the LGU- Bulan the chance to present their side to the people, not only to the lawyers of a courtroom or to the Ombudsman for these are no substitute for the town people. These 44, 000 Bulan voters will after all decide whom to vote in 2010- and not the court. The people of Bulan are the real observers of their town. They know what to do, they know their choice, they “feel” what is true and they know the way to progress.

    All politics is local, and to me everything within this context is politically motivated: For the LGU-Bulan to accuse you of being politically motivated is right and for the LGU-Bulan to defend themselves is not without political motivation.The end justify the means, the means defined by the end. The end is nothing but political power and survival. Social justice, democracy, public accountability, etc. are political visions and ideals “enshrined” in our written Constitution, the same ideals that we all carry around in our mind and heart, but in the Philippine society they all practically depend first and foremost on who has the political power and how.

    Therefore, there is always a chance left for progress for a leader can only be good or bad, be willing to change or not. It’s a gamble that people play every election for either they win or lose only. But in the past years or decades, we know that we have never won yet. But let us not give up.

    jun asuncion

  3. PIO Bulan

    The Culture of Honesty in Bulan
    By: Tonyboy G. Gilana

    This is in response to the thesis put forward by Bulaneno in his article, “The Culture of Corruption in Bulan”

    In 2005, the Local Government Unit of Bulan called forward for all our people to see, and emulate, several ordinary Bulanenos, who displayed that wonderful virtue of honesty and fineness of heart.

    Mr. Alex Francisco, a young man, a lowly padyak driver who earns barely a hundred pesos daily found a package containing 600,000 pesos which was left in his vehicle. He returned it to the owner.

    Another padyak driver, a young family man with four malnourished kids, also returned 75,000 pesos to the owner-teacher who left her wallet in the pedicab. The money was intended for medicines.

    Mr. Andres Gojar, of Barangay Palale, who was a former barangay kagawad, and later, one of our employees at Sabang Community Park, found a service pistol and wallet containing cash, left by a policeman while in Sabang. It was returned to the owner.

    Mrs. Elsa Besmonte, a BHW of Aquino found cash amounting to 5,000 pesos. She returned it to the rightful owners.

    Five Bulan Integrated Terminal porters and service boys were likewise honored in 2008 for returning CPs, cash and many other items lost by passengers in the facility. And at the Terminal itself, we have several unclaimed items either lost or left by our passengers.

    A few days ago, Mr. and Mrs. Reynoel and Arlene Guan of Zone 3, returned to some RGCC students CPs or cash left in their small eatery. And the students were all overwhelmed at such display of honesty.

    For me, honesty is already a theological virtue. It stems from the person’s decision or choice to return to the rightful owner what is due to that person. In a way, it is his sense of justice, and ultimately, his virtue of love that compels him to do so.

    And we have thousands upon thousands of Bulanenos who practice it. It comes rooted from our own culture which we inherited from our forefathers, and most especially from our deep religious faith. Of course not all these acts of people are publicized daily. It is not a rarety, to say the least.

    Even in the local government unit, in the academe, in the various professions, among our students, among the poorest of the poor, we always find that precious bond with conscience, which is practiced outwardly , and is called honesty. In our local dialect, they express it something like, ” Dire bali magdila o magsuda sin asin, dire lang mangloko sin kapuwa.” or, ” Mao yuon an tukdo sa ako san ako pamilya, ni mamay, ni papay…”

    Of course, what is often heard or read today are dishonesty and corruption. They make the news– which gives us the impression that people, especially government leaders, or politicians, are evil. We know that this is a fact, a reality of life, and dishonesty permeates every level of society, the government, the private sector, the church, the media… since time immemorial. And there is reason to giving more emphasis to condemning wrongdoing of people in government, especially our leaders, since they can make or unmake the destinies of our communities.

    The irony of it all, however, is that there are people who condemn dishonesty or wrongdoing but excuse themselves from it even if, by their own introspection, they themselves cannot be excused. This is hypocrisy.

    I cannot but smile at one political opposition leader, who was elected in 1995 here in Bulan, who was consistently decrying and shouting corruption and dishonesty by the incumbent administration. But he was never looking at himself at how he was accused of allegedly encashing and pocketing a measly P2,000 intended for the riprapping project in one barangay. If he cannot then be trusted with a small amount how can he now be trusted with the whole local government funds? And yet, that same person is now very active again in telling Bulan people that this administration is corrupt because of the Bulan Terminal. I think Bulaneno knows who that politician is.

    In a smaller perspective, it happens daily to family members or neighbors.

    Honesty is a moral choice. It is also a gift. But all human beings are endowed with that freedom to accept that gift or not, but once we do accept we make a confirmation on the inherent goodness that is in every man.

    That is why, when Bulaneno decided to publish his article on the “Culture of Corruption in Bulan”, assuming that he was only singling out the De Castro Administration on the Bulan Terminal Case, it was as if he was condemning everybody else in Bulan.

    When you refer to culture, it is a way of life. It refers to communities, to that collective psyche present in every generation. Culture refers to that character of a people. Nobody can therefore prevent me from also telling everybody on the culture of honesty inherent in us as a Bulaneno community.

    Reading between the lines of the Bulaneno article, one can already see the partisanship in him. He was simply propagandizing an issue that, again, falls within the ambit of our courts — be it a question of facts or a question of law. He was right in many of his quotations of many laws and their provisions, but ultimately, all these have to be proven in fact and in law. (I think, Bulaneno knows these, because by the way he writes he either must be a lawyer or a student of law).

    So there is really no use of continually imputing guilt of graft and corruption against anybody, more so against Mayor De Castro, unless her innocence is proven otherwise. Although in the bar of public opinion, nobody can prevent Bulaneno or company from continually bombarding media or the internet with their partisan propaganda. But let our courts decide, even if it may take long. Let civility and decency in our communities and in our institutions take its proper course.

    And going back to the issue of honesty. Let it be said that we have an honest people, a community that treasures the golden values and virtues of our religion and of our forefathers. Let us insulate our community folks from such sweeping generalizations, because they don’t deserve it. Let us refrain from using our people, or its culture, to further our own personal interests and goals.

    We are a good, decent, civil, honest community, and we have always proven it.

  4. olivergeronilla

    Bulaneno,

    You drove your main point home, but the title of your piece rendered all your arguments vacuous.

    Mr. Gilana cunningly turned the tables on you.

    Do you still have a card up your sleeve?

    Hang loose.

    -Oliver Geronilla

    • Filipina

      Oliver,

      I love your article, love, love it….

      USA

      • olivergeronilla

        Filipina,

        Thank you.

        -Oliver

      • filipina

        Oliver,

        If there are other people to be proud of Bulan, I would say, Jun Asuncion and you. I could tell how you guys express your concern and hopes for a change. Though, it may occur or not, I hope that you will continue your adventure, it might be a long journey, at the end, pretty sure, it will benefit the rest.

        Just FYI, you are truly a writer.

        usa

  5. by jun asuncion

    It’s impressive this Culture Of Honesty among ordinary Bulaneños and interesting how it supports the findings of the Reader’s Digest Global Honesty Test conducted last 2007 wherein Manila placed 5th among other nations tested (see report below).

    There is reason to have faith then in our people’s inherent integrity and sincerity, indispensable values for the town to progress.

    However, in man everything is there, all these polarities and paradoxes of values ( a fact that the physicist Heisenberg himself had problem understanding how in a system, i.e., in man, good and bad traits – honesty and dishonesty, sanity and insanity, etc. – can exist and function at the same time).

    Hence, to inhibit the negative and to elicit the positive in us, we need- aside from educational system- role models in our society.

    Here is where the problem comes at least in the Philippines. For it is a common public knowledge that the incumbent national administration is marred with corrupt practices. The whole world knows about this.

    This is a burden to the people and to all other local executives that may actually be honest to their constituents for there is a strong tendency for the public to generalize. And if there are anomalies or scandals in their local government- proven or not- this tendency becomes reinforced, things heard taken as true, becoming common public knowledge.

    It’s difficult then for Filipino politicians in the present time. Had the president et al been serious, the Filipinos would have been more positive in their perception of the local public servants also.

    Judging from his publication, Bulaneño was specifically talking about the culture of corruption in the local administration of Bulan based on the COA’s findings and recommendations. In his blog he presented only these facts, no more, no less. But if he had he fabricated these facts by himself, then that would be utmost denunciation, pure dishonesty. One thing more, he should prove his allegation before the court not before the people (for they have no direct judicial power). And the court is not interested in this “common public knowledge” but only in hard evidence.

    However, the fact that these issues got publicized again just a few months before the election would lead anyone to believe that this is indeed politically motivated.

    Be that as it may, we just leave it to our Culture Of Honesty in Bulan to decide for itself.

    In effect: Cultured Corruption, not Culture of Corruption, should properly describe the effect of the Arroyo administration to public perception, national or local.

    jun asuncion

    ————–

    Reader’s Digest’s Global Honesty Test

    Are people honest?

    Reader’s Digest conducts global cell phone honesty test: Researchers ‘lose’ mobile phones in 32 cities, and two thirds are returned

    By Reader’s Digest Association

    Jul 23, 2007 – 6:02:20 PM

    If you were sitting on a park bench and noticed that a “lost” cell phone was ringing, would you answer it? And if so, and a stranger’s voice on the other end asked you to take time from your busy day to return the phone, what would you do? Hang up? Keep the phone? Or, agree to return it?

    That’s exactly what Reader’s Digest editors wanted to find out. And so the world’s most widely read magazine used its network of global editions to conduct an informal test of honesty around the world, asking reporters in the most populous cities in 32 countries to leave 960 mid-priced mobile phones in busy public places.

    Local researchers from each country arranged and conducted their own tests, observing the mobiles from a distance. They rang the phones and waited to see if anyone would answer, and then watched to see if the person would (1) agree to return it, (2) call later on preset numbers that were programmed into the handsets, or (3) keep the phones for themselves. After all, these were tempting, brand-new phones with usable airtime.

    The researchers tallied the results, interviewed test participants, and filed their reports in many of the August editions of Reader’s Digest, including the Web edition of U.S. Reader’s Digest (www.rd.com) and U.S. Selecciones magazine. While the study was not scientific, the results provided a fascinating human interest story.

    “What we found out surprised and intrigued us,” said Conrad Kiechel, Editorial Director, International. “In every single city where the test was conducted, at minimum almost half of the phones were returned. And despite the temptation that people must have felt to keep the phones, and the fact that the test imposed on everyone’s time, the average return rate was a remarkable 68 percent, or about two thirds of the 30 phones we dropped in each city.”

    The test followed last year’s Reader’s Digest Global Courtesy Test, which made headlines worldwide. Like the 2006 test, it was developed and overseen by the magazine editors in each of the participating countries. Both programs dramatically illustrated the magazine’s remarkable geographic “footprint” by conducting simultaneous local tests and reporting the results globally.

    The highest percentage of returned phones was in the smallest city, Ljubljana, Slovenia, with a population of only 267,000. All but one of 30 cell phones were returned. From a nun at a bus stop to a young waiter at a coffee shop (who also retrieved a leather jacket the reporter had accidentally left behind – not part of the test!), the residents in this picture-postcard city in the foothills of the Alps were almost universally helpful.

    Could the citizens of a major metropolis, with all its stress and pressure, be as honest? The people of Toronto, Canada (population 5.4 million), came close, returning 28 of 30 phones. “If you can help somebody out, why not?” said Ryan Demchuk, a 29-year-old insurance broker, who returned the mobile.

    Seoul, South Korea, was third in the rankings, followed by Stockholm, Sweden, where Lotta Mossige-Norheim, a railway ticket inspector, found the mobile on a shopping street and handed it back. “I’m always calling people who’ve left a handset on my train,” she said.

    Tied for fifth place in the rankings with 24 returned phones were: Mumbai, India; Manila, the Philippines; and New York City.

    In many countries, people said they believed the young would behave worse than their elders. Yet, in the test results, young people were just as honest. In New York’s Harlem section, 16-year-old Johnnie Sparrow arranged to meet a reporter later that evening. Arriving at the scheduled time flanked by a group of younger neighborhood boys who clearly looked up to him, Sparrow was surprised to learn that the lost phone wasn’t lost at all. But he was proud of how he reacted when he found it.

    “I did the right thing,” he said with a smile.

    Parental influence weighed heavily with some. “My parents taught me that if something is not yours, don’t take it,” said Muhammad Faizal Bin Hassan, an employee of a Singapore shopping complex, where he answered a ringing phone.

    Many adults accompanied by children were keen to show the young people how to behave when they spotted a phone. In Hounslow, West London, Mohammad Yusuf Mahmoud, 33, was with his two young daughters when he answered a phone in a busy shopping street. “I’m glad that my kids are here to see this. I hope it sets a good example,” he said.

    Women were slightly more likely to return phones than were men.

    All over the world, the most common reason people gave for returning a phone was that they too had once lost an item of value and didn’t want others to suffer as they had. “I’ve had cars stolen three times and even the laundry from the cellar was taken,” said Kristiina, 51, who returned a phone in Helsinki.

    So, how did planet earth perform in the honesty test? Everywhere, the locally based Reader’s Digest reporters heard pessimism about the chances of getting phones back, especially given economic and other pressures. And yet, globally, 654 mobiles, or 68 percent, were returned.

    The Phones we got back, city by city Rank City Country Phones Recovered (out of 30)

    1 Ljubljana Slovenia 29 (Phones)

    2 Toronto Canada 28

    3 Seoul South Korea 27

    4 Stockholm Sweden 26

    5= Mumbai India 24

    Manila Philippines 24

    New York USA 24

    8= Helsinki Finland 23

    Budapest Hungary 23

    Warsaw Poland 23

    Prague Czech Republic 23

    Auckland New Zealand 23

    Zagreb Croatia 23

    14= Sao Paulo Brazil 21

    Paris France 21

    Berlin Germany 21

    Bangkok Thailand 21

    18= Milan Italy 20

    Mexico City Mexico 20

    Zurich Switzerland 20

    21= Sydney Australia 19

    London UK 19

    23 Madrid Spain 18

    24 Moscow Russia 17

    25= Singapore Singapore 16

    Buenos Aires Argentina 16

    Taipei Taiwan 16

    28 Lisbon Portugal 15

    29= Amsterdam Holland 14

    Bucharest Romania 14

    31= Hong Kong Hong Kong 13

    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 13

    ——————————end—————

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