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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Forum calls for collective approach to combat corruption

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KEY stakeholders from the government, business sector, academe, think tanks, and civil society call for a collective action among different sectors of society to address corruption in the country.

Twenty-one organizations came together in an anti-corruption forum, organized by the Stratbase ADR Institute and Democracy Watch Philippines, to discuss the need for a holistic approach to combat corruption.

Among the groups that attended the event were the Department of Budget and Management, the Makati Business Club, the Integrity Initiative, Institute of Corporate Directors, the Ateneo School of Government, the La Salle Institute of Governance, the Anti-Red Tape Authority, the Development Academy of the Philippines, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, the International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance, the Asian School of Management, Philippine Trade Inc., the Citizenwatch Philippines, the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, the Bantay Konsyumer, Kuryente at Kalsada, and the Universal Health Care Watch Philippines.

In his remarks Stratbase president DIndo Manhit said corruption has been a persistent issue that affects all levels of society.

“To effectively combat this issue, a holistic and coordinated effort is required. There needs to be a multi-pronged approach that addresses both prevention and enforcement,” Manhit said.

“There must be sustained discussions on promoting transparency and accountability, making government processes and initiatives more open and inclusive to public discussion, creating mechanisms for oversight and monitoring, and implementing strong legal frameworks that hold individuals and organizations accountable for their actions,” he added.

Budget Undersecretary Wilford Wong presented the actions taken by the Department of Budget and Management to strengthen transparency and accountability in government.

Among these is the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP) National Action Plan which supports collaborative engagement from governments and civil society in designing, implementing, and monitoring commitments.

“OGP is characterized by participatory consultations, strong multi-sectoral partnerships, and open and constructive exchange of thoughts which has led to implementing commitments that have positively affected bureaucratic efficiency, economic resiliency, and greater citizen participation in the country,” Wong said.

Business groups also discussed the importance of different sectors of government working together to ensure transparency and accountability in the country.

“The most important policy of all is the policy in the private sector. In the integrity initiative, we believe that the solution to corruption should be with the private sector and other partners because there will be no bribe taker if there is no bribe giver,” said Alexander Cabrera, chairman of the Integrity Initiative.

For Makati Business Club Executive Director Francisco Alcuaz, to ensure transparency, there needs to be three important policies: the FOI law, stronger Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth law and Anti-Money Laundering Laws, and an improved bank secrecy law.

“If you strengthen the SALN and loosen the bank secrecy law, you will help prosecutors and even ARTA to prosecute officials and businesses who corrupt the system. This will level the playing field and attract businesses who play by the rules. Rather than corruption, the money will be flowing to more infrastructure that lasts longer. Not infra where they cut corners or they scrimp on the materials and they deteriorate in a few years,” Alcuaz explained.

Ateneo School of Government Dean Philip Arnold Tuano also highlighted the importance of academic institutions working with local chief executives to achieve better performance standards in the local government units.

“The auditing capability for local government officials is important as an effective measure for monitoring performance standards. This is where we see the important role of institutions in monitoring transparency and accountability within government agencies,” Tuano said.

La Salle Institute of Governance Director Ador Torneo shared a similar sentiment.

“The role of academic institutions is to build the capacity of government society, the private sector, and other actors. Academic intuitions play an important role in governance, especially in addressing corruption and promoting transparency and accountability,” he said.

International Center for Innovation, Transformation, and Excellence in Governance chairperson Mardi Mapa-Suplido highlighted the importance of civil society participation in ensuring a transparent and accountable government.

“In civil society, the ultimate objective is to achieve positive development outcomes. We cannot assert at this point that we will attain favorable development outcomes solely through good governance. Instead, good governance can be realized through transparency, accountability, and active participation in politics,” she explained.

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