Press Release
June 11, 2009


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said like Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, he will have no qualms sending top officials to jail and eliminate government discretion in fighting corruption.

"He (Lee) recruited the best and the brightest and gave them the salaries they deserve. When he caught them stealing, he put them in jail," the 39-year old lawmaker told a forum of business leaders in Cebu City organized by the Cebu Business Club and the Makati Business Club.

Lee, who founded and built Singapore into what it is today, led the city-state for 35 years as Prime Minister. He was known for his no-nonsense campaign against corruption. Escudero, who has consistently ranked high in recent surveys, also said he would eliminate discretion especially in law-enforcement and revenue-generating agencies as part of the campaign against corruption.

According to World Bank, half of every peso that can be collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue is lost to corruption. The Department of Finance estimates that 240 billion is lost to corruption annually.

The UN Development Program, on the other hand, estimates that $1.8 billion a year, or about 13 percent of the government's annual budget, is lost to corruption.

Under the Arroyo administration, the Philippines' ranking in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index has spiraled downward. In 2004, it was 102. In 2005, it was 117. In 2006, we were 121st. In 2007, we were ranked 131st. In 2008, we were down to 141st. The listing runs from the cleanest down to the most corrupt.

Escudero has filed a bill to require public officials and employees to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions.

He has also called on officials to voluntarily disclose their SALs (Statement of Assets and Liabilities).

Asked to enumerate three things how he would like to be remembered, Escudero said: One, as one who did not steal single centavo. Two, one who made education as the government's top priority, and three, as the public official built the most roads.

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