Press Release
November 10, 2006


Taking the lead in the fight against corruption, the Senate under the leadership of its President, Senator Manny Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party, has concurred with the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) under Senate Resolution No. 108.

Senate President Villar said the adoption of the Resolution demonstrates the Senate's commitment to the rule of law and international diplomacy, and manifests the upper chamber's principled stand in addressing corruption issues.

The Resolution's approval has effectively ratified the landmark international treaty which spells out the country's renewed commitment in promoting and strengthening the legal mechanism in winning the battle against the corruption in both the government and private sectors. The approval came on Monday, November 6, 2006, the first day of the resumption of the Senate session after a three-week recess, with Villar presiding.

It was sponsored on the floor by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

In particular, the Convention commits the Philippines into adopting new modalities that aim to effectively lick corruption.

Villar stressed that addressing the problem of corruption with concrete measures and political will should be first in the line of priority reform measures that the government is implementing.

"The government may be gaining headway in putting the fiscal house in order, but all these would be put to naught if the endemic corruption that pervades in Philippines society goes unchecked," Villar said.

Villar said the convention aims to promote and strengthen measures in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption, including the freezing, seizure, confiscation and recovery of proceeds of corrupt practices.

"The convention recognizes that corrupt threatens the stability and security of societies, undermines institutions and values of democracy and justice and calls for international cooperation in addressing the problem," Villar said.

The UNCAC was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Oct. 21, 2003, with 140 countries, including the Philippines, signing as States Parties. Some 60 countries had already ratified the Convention wherein the Philippines is the first among the Southeast Asian countries to have ratified it.

The Convention's key feature is the groundbreaking provision that institutionalizes asset recovery as a new principle in defeating corruption.

Villar said this is the first time that an international instrument has laid down the principle of asset recovery and established modalities for its implementation.

This principle is enshrined in several articles that seeks to identify owners of so-called high-value accounts; prevent the establishment of banks that have no physical presence and are not affiliated with a regulated financial group; permit another State to establish title to property acquired through corruption; permit its courts to order those guilty of corruption to pay compensation to a State that has been harmed by corruption; permit its courts to give effect to a foreign confiscation order; permits its authorities to order confiscation of property; permits its authorities to freeze or seize property upon order issued by a foreign court; and, return confiscated property or public funds.

The Convention also requires countries to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption; render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court to extradite offenders; and undertake measures that will support tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of proceeds of corruption.

Villar said the timely concurrence with the ratification of the Convention comes on the heels of the latest report of Transparency International, which listed the country as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

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