Fighting corruption 2-A A +A
An Independent View
Thursday, February 28, 2013
MINDSETS need to be radically changed. The notion that all public funds should be properly accounted for is still regarded as bizarre by too many, including the Senate President. He considers that funding provided to the Senate is to be distributed as he sees fit. Friends receive more. Foes get less. More significantly, neither friends nor foes need to account for these funds.
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Coupled with the Ombudsman’s systems analyses we need much more rigorous and vigorous auditing. Auditors need to be cast in the Heidi Mendoza mold, encountering a supercilious disdain and lack of co-operation from corrupt officials, but nevertheless, despite the obstacles, pursuing the goal of finding out what is really going on.
Senator Trillanes wants to reduce corruption in the AFP. So do we all. But what to do? One possibility is to have a much more active Senate Armed Services Committee which meets with the AFP regularly—usually in Executive Session but sometimes in public—which identifies and supports legitimate AFP activities. Since the hearing of early 2011 when George Rabusa spilt the beans, the AFP has adopted a very low profile.
Occasionally, we hear things but we do not really know what is happening. For example, some time ago it was reported that the AFP had purchased P450 million worth of fuel from Petron in the previous three months. It sounds a lot but I do not know whether it is excessive. We need to be reassured that there are watchdogs in government who are sufficiently knowledgeable to effectively monitor AFP expenditures.
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Underpinning all corruption is a contempt for people-either individually or collectively. Until our society becomes less stratified, then the concept of people being ‘the boss’ is ludicrous. Associated with improving government system to create less corruption opportunities, will be systems that respect the people. At present, we are all made to feel as though we are supplicants when we encounter government departments.
Systems which do not force the people to waste enormous amounts of time waiting or trudging from one place to another will be symptomatic of the necessary respect that people should receive. Well-publicized statements of government systems, with flow diagrams where appropriate, giving necessary and sufficient details of what is required will enable the people to cope with the intricacies of systems on a level playing field with government officials (aka civil servants) who currently delight in putting members of the public on the defensive, even when the officials are in the wrong. One family member went to Bacolod’s land tax office recently the pay the annual tax. The snippy wench behind the counter brazenly and wrongly stated that a ‘late fee’ would be payable. Our family member, not noted for her unassertiveness, ‘raised her tone’ to the embarrassment of the whole office. What we need is disciplined and good governance which we are not getting, either locally, regionally, or nationally
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“The people are the masters”-House of Commons. 11 February 1780 Edmund Burke (1729-1797).
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 28, 2013.