Press Release
January 15, 2010


Widespread corruption that has cost the Philippines 20% of its annual budget would be cut down effectively if the newly-elected President and Vice-President along with 4,000 presidential appointees of the new administration would open their bank accounts to scrutiny while in office, a leading candidate in the May 2010 national elections said yesterday.

Senator Mar Roxas, who is running for Vice-President under the Liberal Party as running mate of fellow front-runner Senator Benigno S. Aquino III, said this will be his first official act if he would be elected in May 10, 2010.

Roxas said he has authored a proposed law that makes it mandatory for all elected and appointive public officials to sign a waiver of the country's 55-year-old Bank Secrecy Act, which prohibits scrutiny of bank deposits without court order, upon assuming office.

Roxas' Senate Bill No. 225 sought powers for the Ombudsman to freely examine declared and undeclared bank accounts, investments and deposits by any public official, his/her spouse and children under age 18.

He also wants the law to empower the Ombudsman to summon all records even from private companies in aid of its investigation into any corruption case against public officials.

Aquino and Roxas, who both lead pre-election surveys on Filipinos' choice to elect as President and Vice-President, respectively, have anchored their election campaign on a tough approach to corruption in the Philippine government, a factor that international and local experts blame for stunting the Philippines' economic growth despite restoring democratic rule 24 years ago.

"This is the reason why millions of Filipinos remain jobless and why there is widespread despair among the poorest of the poor. The government for them is not a provider, but a robber," Roxas said.

A study by the Asian Institute of Management put the cost of corruption in the Philippines at 20% of its annual national budget. Since the government has a P1.5 trillion budget this year, it could mean P300 billion lost to the pockets of corrupt officials, Roxas warned.

He said this is why he and Aquino would endeavour to make all presidential appointees in Cabinet-level departments to directors and heads of government-owned corporations to sign the waiver on the scrutiny of their bank accounts if they are elected President and Vice-President.

"This is in line with the advocacy of Noynoy Aquino and myself for honest and clean governance," he said. "I myself will volunteer to waive the secrecy on my personal bank accounts. And I will propose to Noynoy that this be made to apply to him and to all Cabinet secretaries)."

Roxas insisted that transparency is the best deterrent to corruption and abuse of power, and that by allowing examination of bank accounts of public officials anytime is necessary solution to the corruption that has become endemic in every level of government.

He noted that while there are already requirements in law for public officials to divulge their assets and net worth, these are not enough especially when running after government funds diverted to their personal accounts.

"Transparency has always been the root of good governance. I have consistently practiced what I preach and am not about to let the people down," Roxas said.

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