Jan 312013
With the midterm elections just months away and with political groups already gearing for the presidential election in 2016, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday cautioned that reforms must be maintained to avoid a return to patronage politics and corruption.

“Without structural reform, another corrupt president might one day take the reins of power; another chief justice might one day again betray the public trust,” Aquino told attendees in the 5th Global Conference of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, where he was keynote speaker.

The conference was a gathering of foreign heads of state to discuss best practices.

In his speech, Aquino called on world leaders to be vigilant against corruption, adding that the key to ridding the ranks of government of unscrupulous officials is to make a habit out of transparency by way of creating laws.

“The problem of corruption must thus be approached strategically, always with the long-term in mind. Reforms cannot be mere blips in the radar—they must usher in an enduring mainstream of good, honest governance,” he said.

“As people in government, we know that corruption cannot be eliminated by sending a few erring officials to jail, or by exposing a single faulty contract, or by removing from office a single oppressive tyrant,” he added.

“Only through legislation can the bedrock of inclusiveness and positive, meaningful change be set,” Aquino further said.

Aquino, who won on the popular platform of “tuwid na daan (straight path)” also took pride in the gains of his administration, repeating how transparency has helped regain the trust of the people.

“The Budget Department has ordered the disclosure of budget information on the websites of all national departments and agencies. These translate to ‘The People’s Budget’ and ‘The People’s Money.’ These websites allow our citizens to access information about how the government is spending their money and to report corrupt officials,” Aquino boasted.

However, despite the championing of transparency, Aquino remained mute on the controversial proposed Freedom of Information Act, which would allow ease of access to important documents.

Aquino earlier identified the FOI bill as one of his priority measures, but he has yet to prod Congress to make a move to pass the bill. His spokespersons maintain that the administration supports the bill, but want lawmakers to discuss it at length.

“Let’s have a healthy debate on this issue, and we’ll take it from there,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a briefing Thursday. — Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK, GMA News

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