As part of its advocacy campaign to crack down corruption in the government, the DILG MIMAROPA Legal Unit spearheaded the conduct of the “Bantay-Korapsyon: Webinar on Reinforcing Public Accountability” last June 29. It was participated by officials from the local government units, members of civil society organizations, and employees of DILG MIMAROPA.

DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III

During the webinar, DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco Densing III reiterated that public officials were accountable to the people and that they must protect at all times the integrity of the government by adhering to the highest moral standards. He also acknowledged the participation of the community in the fight against corruption in the government.

“We can never fight corruption without the ordinary citizens, through civil society organizations being part of it. In other words, the Bantay-Korapsyon Program of the government is anchored on participatory governance. It acknowledges the fight against corruption but it cannot be one without community mobilization and active involvement of the public”, said Undersecretary Densing.

The Bantay-Korapsyon webinar allowed the participants to be oriented on the provisions of RA 3019 otherwise known as the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, RA 7080 or an “Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder”, and the crimes committed by public officers under the Revised Penal Code.

Atty. Jeff Martinez

In his presentation, Atty. Jeff Martinez discussed the different forms of corrupt practices of public officers which were enumerated in Section 3 or RA 3019.

Similarly, Atty. Martinez also presented the penalties for violation under RA 3019 and RA 7080 which included imprisonment and fine. Violators may also be disqualified from holding public office and be penalized with confiscation of ill-gotten wealth.

In the discussion of the concept of Bantay-Korapsyon Program, Project Development Officer George Mapile, Jr. emphasized the role of the people and the community in combating corrupt practices in the government and the presence of the three components, such as, transparency, accountability, and people’s participation as key elements to champion good governance. PDO Mapile also shared the 2017 data of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which noted that a conservative estimate of 20% of the country’s annual appropriations equivalent to 670 billion pesos were pocketed and snitched by corrupt officials.

“Talamak pa rin ang bureaucratic red tape. Palamuti lamang ang mga nakapaskil na citizens’ charter. Hindi ito seryosong ipinatutupad. Lantaran ang pag-iral ng mga ghost projects. Paboritong palabigasan nila ang farm to market roads at hindi rin maawat ang pag-iral ng mga ghost employees”, he added.

In addition, DILG Regional Director Wilhelm Suyko stressed that the activity will further strengthen the involvement of civil society organizations to ensure that public officials were regularly checked on their public accountability.

“Hindi lang po sila [CSOs] magbabantay. Actually, sila po ang magbabantay sa atin para tayo ay i-caution at para po tulungan tayo na i-correct iyong mga dapat i-correct at magkaroon tayo ng another layer of watchdogs para mapangalagaan ang ating civil service against corruption”, said RD Suyko.

Atty. Jose Noel Hilario, Public Attorney’s Office

In the discussion of Atty. Jose Noel Hilario of Public Attorney’s Office, he detailed the provisions of the Title 7 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as “Crimes Committed by Public Officers”. In particular he dealt with the commonly committed crimes including crimes of bribery, crimes of illegal exaction, and technical malversation.

Lastly, Assistant Regional Director Rey Maranan lauded the effort of the Regional Legal Unit headed by Regional Legal Officer Atty. Raymond Alvin Mendoza with Bantay-Korapsyon Regional Legal Committee Member Atty.  Irvin Palanca. He also extended grateful appreciation to DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing, the resource persons, the partner facilitator team from Local Government Capability Development Division, the CSOs, the DILG MIMAROPA employees, and the officials from the LGUs in the entire region, for their time and participation.

By: LGOO II Whalee Ferrera