Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category

Philippine ex-army head Angelo Reyes ‘commits suicide’

February 8, 2011

By Kate McGeown BBC News, Philippines

File photo of Angelo Reyes General Angelo Reyes was head of the armed forces under President Estrada
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A former Philippine military chief who had recently been accused of high-level corruption has died after apparently taking his own life.

Retired general Angelo Reyes is thought to have killed himself with a single gunshot to the chest.

In recent weeks, a Congressional inquiry has been hearing allegations of how Gen Reyes embezzled more than $1m (£620,000) from state funds.

Allegations of corruption often blight the poorly-paid, badly-equipped army.

Early on Tuesday, witnesses saw Gen Reyes arrive in a cemetery in Manila.

They said he went to his mother’s grave, then sent his children back to the car, before a single shot rang out.

He was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

Gen Reyes was an influential figure; he was head of the armed forces under President Joseph Estrada, and went on to hold various government posts.

But recently he has been making headline news in a different way.

A former military budget officer told a Congressional hearing that several key army figures, including the general, had siphoned off enormous amounts of money for their own personal gain.

Gen Reyes is accused of getting more than $1m when he left his post – the amount allegedly had to be converted from Philippine pesos into dollars because it was too bulky to carry.

Corruption allegations against the uniformed forces are nothing new, although they rarely involve this amount of money.

 

Former Philippine Defense Secretary Is Dead

By CARLOS H. CONDE

MANILA — A former defense secretary and military chief of the Philippines who was implicated in a major corruption scandal in the armed forces died Tuesday morning in an apparent suicide, officials said.

The former defense secretary, Angelo Reyes, 64, sustained a single shot in the chest, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said a few minutes after doctors had pronounced Mr. Reyes dead.

Police Chief Superintendent Francisco Manalo said Mr. Reyes shot himself on Tuesday while at the cemetery where his mother is buried. Mr. Manalo said foul play had been ruled out as a cause in Mr. Reyes’s death.

According to one of his aides, Mr. Reyes visited his mother’s grave Tuesday morning with two of his five children. At one point, he asked to be left alone by her tomb. “Then I heard a loud gunshot,” the unidentified aide told radio station DZMM.

Mr. Reyes had been accused of taking kickbacks from military contractors while he was the armed forces’ chief of staff in 2000 and 2001. Former colonel George Rabusa, who has been testifying in both houses of the Philippine Congress, has accused two other former chiefs of staff of similar crimes, disclosing what appears to be systemic corruption within the military.

Mr. Reyes, who was present when Mr. Rabusa made the accusations before a Senate committee, vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Reyes served as chief of staff of the armed forces under President Joseph Estrada. In January 2001, Mr. Reyes broke away from Mr. Estrada and supported the “people power” movement to oust Mr. Estrada.

Mr. Reyes described the act as “withdrawal of support,” and it contributed to Mr. Estrada’s ouster days later.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who replaced Mr. Estrada, appointed Mr. Reyes defense secretary.

Mr. Estrada’s son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, encouraged Mr. Rabusa and other witnesses to provide testimony in the Senate’s investigation of military corruption.

 

AT LEAST HE GOT TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

 

Culture of Corruption

December 17, 2008

By Andrew Marshall, Asia Political Risk Correspondent

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – To understand the challenge faced by emerging southeast Asian economies struggling to shake off a corrosive culture of corruption, you can start by counting the parking tickets issued to foreign diplomats in Manhattan.

The league table of the worst parking offenders in New York embassies tells the same story as other methods economists have used to gauge countries’ propensity for corruption — many Asian nations fare very poorly in upholding the rule of law.

And the fact national corruption patterns persist even among diplomats in a foreign city suggests that a solution requires more than just better law enforcement — it needs fundamental institutional reform and a wholesale change in attitudes.

“You cannot fight corruption just by fighting corruption,” said Daniel Kaufmann, who spearheaded the World Bank’s efforts to improve the study of governance and the rule of law, and who estimates that $1 trillion of bribes are paid every year.

Evidence showed there was little to be gained from “yet another anti-corruption campaign, the creation of more commissions and ethics agencies, and the incessant drafting of new laws, decrees, and codes of conduct,” he said, adding that “fundamental and systemic governance reforms” were needed instead.

Economists who specialize in governance say combating corruption is not just a moral imperative — it is essential for promoting long-term economic growth and investment.

That means economies like Singapore and Hong Kong which have successfully sought to crack down on corruption have received real economic benefits in return. And southeast Asia’s laggards have driven investors away because of their poor reputation.

“International capital flows are strongly affected by corruption,” said Johann Graf Lambsdorff, professor at the University of Passau and creator of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). “Capital flows into countries that have a reputation of limiting corruption.”

SINGAPORE TO MYANMAR: WORLDS APART

There is no objective way of measuring corruption. Most methods of ranking countries rely on tracking perceptions, and two of the most widely followed — Kaufmann’s World Governance Indicators for the World Bank, and Transparency International’s CPI — aggregate several surveys to produce a composite rating.

They paint a remarkably consistent picture of southeast Asia.

Singapore is the clear leader in the region according to all surveys. At the opposite end of the scale, Myanmar is among the world’s most corrupt countries — of 180 nations ranked by Transparency International, only Somalia rates worse.

Of the emerging economies that most interest investors, Malaysia has a clear advantage — the World Bank indicators gave it a 2007 score of 62.3, above Thailand on 44.0, Vietnam on 28.0, Indonesia on 27.1 and the Philippines on 22.2. Transparency International’s CPI ranks the countries in the same order.

Economists say a host of data supports the theory there is a “development dividend” for countries that tackle corruption.

“We estimate that a country that improves its governance from a relatively low level to an average level could almost triple the income per capita of its population in the long term, and similarly reduce infant mortality and illiteracy,” Kaufmann said.

Lambsdorff said there was convincing evidence that not only foreign direct investment but also portfolio investment was affected by corruption, with studies showing that stock markets outperformed in countries that successfully reduced corruption.

“International investors are more confident of a country, or consider the country to be less risky so don’t seek such a risk premium to invest in a country,” he said.

Diversion of people’s money

September 17, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

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Every year government agencies expend a great deal of time and effort in preparing detailed budget proposals for approval by Congress. Once approved, the funds should be used for their avowed purposes. Failure to do so indicates, at best, a haphazard way of planning programs and projects for implementation. At worst, government officials can be held liable for the diversion or misuse of public funds and corruption.

As Congress deliberates on the proposed national budget for 2009, the Commission on Audit is making available to the public its reports on various agencies’ utilization of their respective appropriations in the previous year. One COA report recommends the filing of criminal and administrative charges against officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways for the diversion of P2.15 billion meant for road projects. The funds, according to the COA report, were instead used by the DPWH for the rehabilitation of multipurpose buildings of private cooperatives, purchase of office equipment and fuel as well as the payment of wages and personnel benefits.

State auditors said P4.45 million released to the DPWH regional official in Metro Manila that was meant for the improvement of Gov. Forbes street in Manila was instead used to pay the contractor of the reconstruction of the Tullahan bridge and completion of the approaches to the bridge in Valenzuela.

With the annual national budget never enough to deliver decent basic services, the government should see to it that public funds are used judiciously and with transparency. This is not possible when budget proposals are tossed aside as soon as funding is approved, and government officials simply do as they please with their agencies’ fund allocations. This type of utilization of public funds also leaves the door open for corruption.

The DPWH in particular should make a greater effort to bring order, transparency and accountability to its utilization of public funds. The department consistently competes with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs for the worst ranking in all surveys on the most corrupt government agency. If the DPWH is not interested in streamlining its fund utilization, the COA recommendation should be followed and criminal and administrative charges should be filed against DPWH officials.