Press Release
January 30, 2013

Gov't anti-corruption measures take center-stage in Manila confab

The Aquino government's anti-corruption measures will be the focus of the 5th Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) conference which starts today Wednesday, at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Touted to be the biggest gathering of parliamentarians the four day conference will center on several key pieces of legislation that President Benigno Aquino III has recently signed into law in answer to calls for greater transparency and accountability in government.

These laws include, among others, An Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Law (R.A.10167), and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (R.A. 10168). Both laws aim to curb the use of funds and banking institutions suspected of financing terrorist activities.

Another anti-money laundering measure, aimed at further strengthening the anti-money laundering law (Senate Bill no. 3123) by expanding the list of institutions considered as possible venues for money-laundering activities, has been certified as urgent by the President.

"How we deal with money coming from possibly illegal transactions affect investors' perception on whether or not we have a safe banking system. A weak anti-money laundering legal framework discourages legitimate banking activities and invites instead criminals who seek to make the Philippines a safe haven for their unlawfully acquired money," Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, one of the bill's sponsors, said.

"SBN 3123 serves to reinforce our country's anti-money laundering measures. It addresses the noted deficiencies in the Philippines' legal framework with regards to anti-money laundering, by making our state fully compliant with standards set by the Financial Action Task Force," he added.

Another anti-corruption measure directing government agencies to disclose information on public interests, documents and records, has been approved by the Philippine Senate and is awaiting approval in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 3208 or the People's Ownership of Government Information (POGI) Act of 2012 (more popularly known as the Freedom of Information Act) was sponsored on the floor by Senator Gregorio Honasan II, chairperson of the committee on public information and mass media. Under the measure, public institutions and government agencies are mandated to disclose information on any transactions by posting pertinent documents on government websites for easy access, aside from providing these documents upon a person's request.

Inroads to the country's procurement processes will also be highlighted during the conference.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Vice Chairman of the GOPAC Executive Committee and the Charter President of the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC), was the principal author and sponsor of the Government Procurement Reform Act, the Philippine's biggest anti-corruption measure in history.

"The Philippines have gone a long way in doing its part to curb corruption in government. By using our own Government Procurement Act as an example, we can help parliaments by helping to identify areas where new coalitions of government officials, international agencies, and civil society organizations can lead to positive actions in the prevention of graft and corruption, especially in the eradication of red-tape in government transactions," Angara said.

A joint initiative of the Senate of the Philippines, GOPAC, the South East Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption, and the GOPAC National Chapter in the Philippines, the conference aims to encourage parliaments all over the world to take a leadership role in promoting good governance by crafting tougher laws to combat graft and corruption.

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