Press Release
June 20, 2006

Political will needed to fight corruption Drilon

While admitting that additional funds are welcome in the fight against corruption, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said yesterday that "even more important is political will."

The Senate president made the observation when asked for his reaction to the allocation by President Arroyo of an additional P1 billion in the fight against corruption.

In an interview with radio station DZMM, Drilon noted, however, that the public has become cynical and disappointed over the administration's poor record at combating corruption as there were many government anomalies that remain unresolved.

The Senate chief cited the fertilizer scandal before the 2004 elections involving an overprice of P728 million in the purchase of fertilizers by the Department of Agriculture. The scam allegedly benefited governors and congressmen who were running for reelection under the administration banner and a large part of the proceeds went to the pockets of those who administered the funds.

Asked where the additional allocations, including another P1 billion for the military, were coming from, Drilon said that under a reenacted budget, the President has a large discretion in allocating and disbursing government funds just by "realigning" projects under the old budget.

However, Drilon stressed that these funds are still subject to audit by the Commission on Audit.

Drilon also noted that the Senate has always recognized the need for allotting more funds to the fight against corruption. That is why the Senate increased the budget for the Ombudsman during the incumbency of former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.

But he stressed that without political will to prosecute the grafters, no amount of funds would be able to stop widespread corruption in government.

Drilon said that the Senate has investigated and exposed many anomalies in government, aside from the fertilizer scam, such as the billion-peso computer scam at the Commission on Elections and the Venable contract allocating funds for a lobby group in the United States to push for support of the charter change proposal in the Philippines.

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