Press Release
October 3, 2010


MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) and South East Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) meeting, held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel, concluded with member countries agreeing to implement new policies in the fight against corruption.

According to Senator Edgardo J. Angara, founding member of SEAPAC and host of the conference, "we now have an objective scorecard to judge whether a country has achieved progress in the reduction or elimination of corruption."

As agreed upon during the two-day convention, member countries are now mandated to assist any victimized country, especially in the area of asset-recovery, where money-laundering activities are concerned.

"In the case of the Philippines, for instance, some of our officials may have stolen and plundered our treasury, and deposited the money elsewhere, the depository country is obliged, under duty, under this convention, to assist the Philippines to recover that money within their jurisdiction," Angara explained.

Angara lauded a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report indicating that the Philippines, once considered as a haven for money-laundering activities, have now been taken out of the list of countries being known as "tax havens".

"Our reputation as a tax-evading and money-laundering country has given the impression that the country is very corrupt. The OECD report is a vindication that we are improving our very own anti-corruption initiatives," he said.

Angara also mentioned the recent grant of $400-million by the Millennium Challenge Fund, which President Noynoy Aquino received during his trip to Washington.

"Recent actions by outsiders have indicated that there has been an improvement in our corruption index. Before, we could not access the Millennium Challenge Fund because we could not reduce poverty, graft and corruption. Second, the OECD blacklist is very damaging as foreign investments will shy-away from all our funds and financial institutions because we were characterized as having a money laundering and tax-evading banking system," Angara explained.

"Getting the $400-million is an affirmation that the world has taken notice of our country's efforts in eliminating corruption," he added.

Among the policies agreed upon by participants to the two-day conference was to allow citizens full information about government operations. The Philippines is currently awaiting the approval of a similar measure, called the Freedom of Information act which Angara authored, seeking to grant access to files and other documents pertaining to government transactions and policies that will directly affect society.

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