Anticorruption campaign goes global

The Philippines improved its rating in the latest (2012) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI). We now rank 105th (tied with seven others) among 176 countries. We overtook several countries, including our neighbors Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh, which were ahead of us in previous CPIs. Last year, the Philippines ranked 129th.

Anticorruption topnotchers. Over all, however, we still languish in the bottom third of the worldwide survey with a rating of 34 out of a possible 100. The topnotchers are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, which tied for first place, with identical ratings of 90.

The rest of the top 10 are Sweden (second place with 88), Singapore (third with 87), Switzerland (fourth with 86), Australia and Norway (fifth, tied with 85), Canada and Netherlands (sixth, tied with 84), Iceland (seventh with 82), Luxembourg (eighth with 80), Germany (ninth with 79) and Hong Kong (10th with 77).

According to retired Judge Dolores Español, TI’s cofounder and current member of its international advisory council, several recent events helped to upgrade public perception of our country, like the renewed vigilance in the filing of accurate statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of public officials, the P-Noy administration’s passion for transparency and accountability, and the appointment of Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as ombudsman.

5th Gopac Conference. Expected to help boost our rating in the worldwide corruption perception next year is the 5th International Conference of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Gopac) to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center on Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2013.

Significantly, Huguette Labelle, the Canadian chair of TI, agreed to come and “feel” our country’s war on corruption, and address this planetwide conference to be attended by over 500 heads of parliament, legislators, cabinet members, civil society movers and academics from six continents.

The Gopac meeting will focus on how the United Nations Convention Against Corruption

(Uncac) can be effectively implemented, and how antimoney laundering legislation can be used to curb graft. Specifically, it will discuss strategies to combat corruption, promote transparency, and uphold accountability and good governance. The conference theme is “Good Leaders, Good Laws, Good Citizens.”

The choice of Manila as the site of the 5th Gopac Conference is a global recognition of the improved role of the Philippines in the fight against graft. President Aquino will keynote the conference. The two leaders of Congress, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., as well as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, will host separate receptions for all delegates.

Other notable speakers include Amadou Bouare, a member of parliament (MP) in Mali and chair of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, and Ambassador Richard Boucher, deputy secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, who keynoted the International Anticorruption Conference held last month in Brazilia, Brazil.

Hosted by the Philippine Senate, the Manila conference will be chaired by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara ably assisted by a steering committee that includes Sen. Franklin M. Drilon, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Rep. Zenaida Benedicto Angping, Rep. Bernadette Herrera Dy, Judge Español, Tourism Undersecretary Chickoy Enerio, Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros, Commission on Immigration’s Danilo Almeda, Dean Georgina Encanto, publicists Yoly Ong and Rocky Tirona, lawyers Araceli Villanueva, Cherry Lou Reyes and Ambreen Malik, with Antonio G. de Guzman as secretary general.

Gopac was founded on Oct. 16, 2002, by Canadian MP John Williams. Currently, Dr. Nasser Al Sane, an MP of Kuwait, heads it. It is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, where it maintains a full-time staff.

Other anticorruption initiatives. Noted with appreciation by the international community was the declaration of Dec. 9, 2012, as our “National Anticorruption Day.” Nine years ago, on Dec. 9, 2003, 140 countries including the Philippines, signed the Uncac. “Mindful of the constitutional mandate that a public office is a public trust and of the nation’s efforts to curb and fight corruption in government and society,” our Senate ratified it three years later on Nov. 6, 2006.

“To implement several provisions of Uncac,” the Senate has put on its agenda the enactment of several anticorruption measures, including the proposed “Whistle-blower Protection Act of 2011.” Under this proposal, those who provide information leading to the prosecution of grafters will be rewarded and protected.

For its part, the House of Representatives has passed on second reading a bill that expands the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Law to include transactions not only in banks but also those in pawnshops, foreign exchange corporations, money changers, remittance companies, trust companies, service providers, and fund managers.

Awaiting final imprimatur in the House is the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which the Senate has already approved on third and final reading. I am certain that the Philippines will be internationally applauded if all these measures, especially the FOI, are enacted prior to the start of the Gopac conference on Jan. 31. This is a challenge to all our legislators. How about it, your honors?

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