SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the creation of an expanded inter-agency task force to address systemic corruption in government. This, he said, is in support of initiatives of various agencies to cleanse its ranks in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s intensified campaign against corruption.
Go’s proposal came after reports of prevalent systemic corruption in various agencies, such as alleged anomalies in the Department of Public Works and Highways, the ‘pastillas’ scheme in the Bureau of Immigration, extortion in the Bureau of Customs, the embezzling of funds in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and the rice smuggling in the agriculture sector, among others.
“It is enraging to hear such reports because we, led by President Duterte, have always adopted a zero-tolerance policy on corruption. This is why I am recommending to the President to create an enhanced task force to put an end to these unscrupulous activities plaguing our bureaucracy,” Go said.
“Imbestigahan dapat lahat. Wala tayong pipiliin, wala tayong sasantuhin. Kasuhan na ang mga dapat makasuhan. Tuluyan ang mga dapat tuluyan. Towards the last one year and eight months of this administration, we must not hesitate in cracking down on corruption,” he emphasized.
Go explained that the proposed task force can be a more empowered version of the previous task force created to investigate PhilHealth — with an expanded scope as it should cover all government agencies and should be allowed to operate until President Duterte ends his term in 2022.
“Nag-usap po kami ng Pangulo. Bagamat exasperated na po siya dahil sa mga nababalitang laganap na corruption, hindi tayo papayag na masira ang magandang pagbabago na pinaghirapan nating lahat noong nakaraang mahigit apat na taon dahil lang sa kalokohan ng iilan,” he said.
“Sa natitirang isang taon at walong buwan, mas palalakasin pa natin ang kampanya laban sa korapsyon, kriminalidad at iligal na droga,” Go added.
The senator said that the expanded task force must be empowered enough to conduct probes on any government agency with the support of concerned governing bodies, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, among others, as well as all branches of government.
“Magtulungan tayong lahat para matigil na ang katiwalian sa gobyerno mula sa pinakamababa hanggang sa pinakataas. Kung paano tayo magbabayanihan ngayon para labanan ang pandemya, magkaisa rin dapat tayo para puksain ang sakit na korapsyon sa ating sistema,” he urged.
Go said that the proposed task force will be mandated to investigate allegations of corruption in any agency, conduct lifestyle checks on officials, audit public funds, prosecute and file charges against those accused, recommend suspensions when necessary, and put in jail those who will be found guilty.
“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,” he previously said.
Go urged the proper authorities to recommend or impose preventive suspensions on public officials and government employees who are suspected of graft, corruption or negligence.
“Dapat po pilayan o putulan na ng daliri para hindi na makagalaw. Ang preventive suspension ay mainam na paraan para hindi na makagawa pa ng kalokohan o makipagsabwatan para maitago ang katotohanan,” he explained saying that the integrity of the ongoing probes must be free of any influence from abusive officials.
Go also warned public servants to live within their means and adhere to the values and standards set forth in Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“Hindi lang po ‘yon, dapat po ma-lifestyle check rin ang mga nasa gobyerno para matingnan po kung saan nila kinukuha ang kanilang pera. ‘Yung iba dyan hindi naaayon sa kanilang sweldo ang pamumuhay — sweldong gobyerno pero buhay milyonaryo,” he said.
In line with a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, Go reiterated that there must be more safeguards to protect public funds from corruption, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Filipinos must know where their money is going and how it is being used. They entrusted this money to us so it can benefit all and not just a few. That is why every peso should be accounted for up to the last centavo and used solely for public service,” he emphasized.
“I now reiterate my appeal to our agencies and my fellow public servants to shape up now, because our people deserve nothing less but the best kind of service from a government that puts the welfare and interests of every Filipino first before their own,” he added.