Anti-graft bid mired in legal issues—solon

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s tough campaign, the government is barely making a dent against corruption because of the legal process that allows public officials convicted of corruption or even plunder to seek office while their cases are on appeal, an opposition lawmaker said Sunday.

Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento of the Liberal Party said he agreed with the President’s frustration over the persistence of corruption in the government because the law itself shows too much tolerance of public officials who have already been convicted of graft and corruption.

He said this prompted him to file a bill amending the Omnibus Election Code to automatically disqualify anyone from seeking or holding any government post once convicted of felonies where the penalty includes disqualification from holding public office, even if there are still options for appeal.

On Friday, President Duterte ordered the closure of all gaming operations authorized by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) over allegations of “massive corruption” in the agency.

On Sunday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian suggested the PCSO be privatized as a way of insulating the government from corruption, and assuring it of revenues to help the poor.

He added that proceeds from the PCSO games should be remitted directly to the Department of Social Work and Development to avoid the mishandling of funds.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, said the gaming outlets that were shut down could be reopened once corruption is weeded out.

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said billions of pesos from the gaming proceeds go into the pockets of government, police and PCSO officials.

“When the regular jueteng collections of at least P200 million a day or P73 billion a year in the NCR, CAR and Regions 1 to 5 alone translate to a mere P4 billion income for the PCSO from Small Town

Lottery (STL) operations, a big chunk of which is not even in cash remittances but recorded as collectibles, we do not need an Albert Einstein to figure out how much goes to the individual pockets of STL franchise holders, corrupt politicians, policemen and PCSO officials,” Lacson said in a statement.

“No matter how many congressional hearings are conducted, the palms of these people continue to be greased by gambling money,” he added.

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Topics: Corruption , Edgar Mary Sarmiento , Omnibus Election Code , Sherwin Gatchalian
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