Press Release
February 29, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today traced the misuse of power and corruption in government to the political leaders' tendency to disregard the rule of law and transparency and to make themselves accountable for their actions.

Pimentel said the spate of scandals hounding the Arroyo government, the latest of which is the grossly overpriced national broadband project, are sordid manifestations of misrule that an outraged nation is trying to end through means that are recognized by the Constitution and the law.

"Unfortunately, we have leaders today who forget that a democratic government is a limited government," the opposition stalwart a message he delivered at the 5th Oratorical Contest for College Students under the sponsorship of the Community Foundation of the Philippines at the PICC.

"It is a government that cannot do anything simply because it had power - and power that appears to be emanating from the barrel of armalites."

Pimentel lamented the culture of corruption the pervades the government bureaucracy, with unscrupulous public officials trying to outdo each other in making money out of every project or financial deal that is entrusted to them.

Stressing that a government must account for what it does, he said if the taxpayers' money is intended for project that will benefit them, this cannot just be spent elsewhere as the government would want since that would not be in conformity with the law.

"If moneys are stolen from the coffers of government by government functionaries or taken from foreign investors as "acceptance fee" or "success fee" or worse, as "election funds" by government officials, that is open defiance of the rule of law," Pimentel said.

Pimentel decried that despite the fact that the Philippines is one of the earliest independent and democratic republics in Asia, the Filipino people are still struggling for their fundamental rights, including the basic right to a government that is run according to the rule of law.

If people are extrajudically killed or forced to disappear, that would not be consonant with the rule of law, he said.

Pimentel emphasized that every citizen should do his or her share for safeguarding and promoting core values of democracy and the rights of the people.

He exhorted them to emulate the patriotism and sacrifices of Filipino heroes, from Lapu Lapu and Sultan Kudarat to Macliing Dulag and Ninoy Aquino, by doing their share in safeguarding the core values of democracy and the rights of the people.

"And they, like those who dramatically fell in the struggle for liberty are also freedom fighters who deserve the accolade of our people," Pimentel said.

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