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APEC draws up network vs corruption

BEIJING—A pioneering cross-border network allowing the extradition of corrupt officials and the recovery of ill-gotten wealth will boost the Philippines’ own anti-corruption efforts, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said here Sunday.

“The APEC anti-corruption network will certainly contribute to our own drive against corruption, especially when member-economies act as a collective effort,” Del Rosario said.

“This can be manifested by, among others, an exchange of information.”

In his speech during the APEC CEO Summit on Sunday, President Benigno Aquino III bannered the efforts of his administration to run after corrupt officials as part of his reform initiatives.

“The idea that drove my campaign for the presidency was recapitulated in a simple slogan that says where there is no corruption, there will be no poverty,” Aquino said.

“We have pursued all those who committed wrongdoing regardless of their position or influence so that they may be brought to justice.”

The APEC anti-corruption network will be covered by a declaration to be signed by the economic leaders on Tuesday.

APEC’s Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies commits its 21 member-economies to “deny safe haven to those engaged in corruption, including through extradition, mutual legal assistance and the recovery and return of the proceeds of corruption.”

The network also seeks to “establish measures and systems to protect whistle blowers.”

In a separate interview, APEC secretariat executive director Alan Bollard said the anti-corruption network sought to “get together enforcement agencies to deal with corruption issues on a common basis.”

“The focus is to work out where they can swap data and information on particular cases, to help them pursue cases if they’re going across borders, and to help in prosecution and help in asset recovery,” Bollard said.

“If, for example, there has been some corruption case in one economy and the people involved have moved their assets over to another economy, the network should be able to help get those assets back again.”

In his speech at the National Center for APEC on Saturday, United States Secretary of State John Kerry underscored the importance of fighting corruption for the economies to remain competitive.

“We need to grow just, and that means avoiding bribery and corruption. Obviously, that has a terrible impact on the ability of businesses to do business,” Kerry said.

“We’re all hurt by it, and we can’t level the playing field if there’s corruption. And I know that a number of countries around the world are increasingly focused on trying to eliminate corruption, and we have made that partnership very key in APEC.”

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