Succeeding against corruption

Mar. 18, 2014 at 12:01am

LAST Saturday, I wrote about the successes of the Revenue Integra­tion Protection Service (RIPS), the anti-corruption arm of the Depart­ment of Finance (DOF). RIPS in­vestigates allegations of corruption in the Department and its attached agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. I continue that column today by giving another example of the success of RIPS and by reflect­ing on its success and how this could even be further scaled up.

In addition to the two cases I cited in the last column where the work of RIPS led to a decisive resolution against corrupt financial officials, the Office of the Ombudsman last March 12 also found a Porsche-driv­ing former Bureau of Customs clerk guilty of violating anti-laws and ethical standards for civil servants. Probable cause was present to indict Paulino Elevado IV for five counts of falsification of public documents and two counts of violation of Sec­tion 7 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for his false declara­tions in his SALN. He was found guilty of serious dishonesty, aggra­vated with conduct of prejudicial to the best interest of the service and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. What was quite humorous about his indict­ment was what prompted the inves­tigation about him. He figured in a traffic altercation in February 2012 with a Porsche in tow.

The Ombudsman, in its deci­sion, stated that Elevado repeatedly concealed and distorted the truth, omitting relevant information in his SALN. Among these were his ad­mission, 16 years after assuming of­fice, that he was engaged in several businesses.

As a result, he was slapped with a fine of P20,000, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, and perpetual bar from re-entering the government service, including government-owned or controlled corporations.

With its recent successes, RIPS has been praised by many for its per­severance, resilience, and optimism in attaining its goals. It is fearlessly committed to protect the integrity of the revenue service of the coun­try – favoring no one, realizing its vision and leading the way for the investigation, detection, and preven­tion of corrupt practices in the DOF and its attached agencies. It institu­tionalizes reform, ensuring integrity, transparency, confidentiality and accountability for the Filipino peo­ple. In more ways than one, these principles are the media by which the DOF, as an organization and its stakeholders perform leadership, operations, and transactional com­munication to create a clean, honest, and credible fiscal revenue system. Apart from the thrust that “public office is a public trust,” the principal ideals that DOF stands for is a pub­lic service to the Filipinos ensuring a sustainable economy with a sound fiscal policy.

As Article XII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitutions provides, “public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibil­ity, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.” Article II, Sec­tion 27 likewise states that “The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.” Finally, Article IXB Section 3, mandates The Civil Service Commission, as the cen­tral personnel agency of the Govern­ment, to establish a career service and adopt measures to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness, and courtesy in the civil service. Among others, the Civil Service is asked to institutionalize a management climate conducive to public accountability.

As jurisprudence provides, the Ombudsman has the power to in­vestigate and prosecute any act or omission of any public officer or employee which appears to be ille­gal, unjust, improper or inefficient. Its authority to impose administra­tive penalty and enforce compliance therewith within the bounds of law. 

In the same manner, the State has the right to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public of­ficials or employees, from them or from their nominees or transferees, shall not be barred by prescription, laches, or estoppel. And as a gener­al requirement by the Constitution, “a public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter, as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.”

It is noteworthy to state that most  of these cases stem from anonymous reports received by RIPS regarding  these extravagant lifestyles of such employees. Thus, after an exhaustive investigation and lifestyle check conducted by RIPS, these are converted into case eventualities. As a general proposition, the RIPS encourages private individuals and organizations to report graft and corruption practices to further alleviate the conditions of fiscal governance and eradicate these practices in a timely manner. RIPS has indeed been successful in ripping out corruption.