Only 27 ‘High-ranking’ Elective Officials Convicted in 27 Years

Despite thousands of cases filed with the Ombudsman and a lesser number elevated to the Sandiganbayan (anti-graft court) in 27 years, only two governors, one vice-governor, 23 mayors and one vice mayor or a total of 27 high-ranking elective officials were found guilty of graft and corruption.

BY Bulatlat.com

Despite thousands of cases filed with the Ombudsman and a lesser number elevated to the Sandiganbayan (anti-graft court) in 27 years (from 1979-May 2006), only two governors, one vice-governor, 23 mayors and one vice mayor or a total of 27 high-ranking elective officials were found guilty of graft and corruption.

The figure, according to the Center for People Empowerment (CenPEG) and Transparency International (TI)-Philippines which released a preliminary report about corruption Dec. 8, was based on the number of convictions of elective officials occupying top positions.

Not counted, according to CenPEG and TI-Philippines, are town councilors. The rest of the convicted officials were holding non-elective positions in government.

“High-profile cases,” such as those involving deposed President Joseph E. Estrada, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and others were either dismissed, pending, or withdrawn, the study also found.

Details of the preliminary report were presented to reporters in a news briefing led by Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, CenPEG Board chair, and former Judge Dolores Español, chair of TI-Philippines, held in Quezon City.

The joint press conference of CenPEG and TI was held a day before the International Anti-Corruption Day commemorated every December 9.

Below expectations

The policy research entitled, “Is the Philippine Judicial System Effective in the Fight against Corruption?” found the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan, considered major pillars of the country’s judicial system in curbing corruption, performing below public expectations with regard to their constitutionally-mandated mission: the prompt and fair disposition of graft cases, and the prosecution and conviction of high-profile officials.

Both institutions suffer a backlog of cases while many cases said to have been disposed were actually dismissed, the report also revealed. It usually reaches an average of seven years or even up to 10 years before a significant case is solved, the CenPEG report also revealed, citing reports by the Supreme Court and former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.

Judge Español presented the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) 2006 report which found more than 70 percent of respondents in the Philippines, along with Bolivia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Korea and Turkey, saying that corruption affects their personal and family lives to a large extent.

The CenPEG study also said that the highest elective official charged and convicted is governor. But only two governors over a period of 27 years have been found guilty. Similarly, for the same period, only 23 municipal and city mayors were convicted for violation of RA 3019, malversation, estafa, bribery and theft.

Eighteen of them were earlier charged in 1979-2000 and were found guilty only in 2001-May 2006. Others convicted were a vice governor and a vice mayor.

The Philippines has 1,618 town mayors, based on 2002 figures.

The elective officials were found guilty of violation of RA 3019, malversation of public funds, estafa, bribery and theft.

The United Nations in its Resolution 58.4 of Oct. 31, 2003 adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and declared Dec. 9 as the International Anti-Corruption Day. The UNCAC entered into force December 14 last year.

From Dec. 9 to 14, the first session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention “to improve the capacity of and cooperation between States Parties to achieve the objectives set forth” in the UNCAC and to promote and review its implementation. The session will be held at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, Dead Sea, Jordan. (Bulatlat.com)

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