Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The S.A.L.N Revolution

The Anti-Corruption Campaign of the PNoy government is partially succeeding. Its Good Governance and Transparency Policy was a major factor in the investment ratings upgrade of the Philippines.

It also brought record collections by both the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue as well as in other revenue producing government agencies.

In fact, revenue increases and reduction in costs resulted in budget surpluses that were used in anti-poverty, infrastructure, and other socio-economic reform oriented programs.

Reforms are happening but not fast enough. The “Daang Matuwid”; the “Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap”; and the drive against the “Wang Wang” mentality have indeed brought significant improvements in people’s perception of our government and their attitude toward PNoy’s sincerity in fathoming a better life for them in the future.

I am sure that the people’s attitude would be reflected more concretely in the coming elections rather than just in surveys, which are as encouraging.

The environment would soon be conducive to more aggressive government reforms if not revolutionary ones.

The impeachment of Ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona, the appointment of Chief Sereno as replacement, and the ongoing crusade of Ombudsman Carpio Morales and Justice Secretary de Lima, brought hope to having a fair, just, and corrupt-free judiciary.  The faster the judiciary is reformed, the sooner that corrupt judges and/or justices are removed, and the speedier Justice is dispensed with, the greater the opportunity to reform or revolutionize other agencies of the government.

Despite having honest leaders directing the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue as well as record-breaking achievements, the said agencies remain unpopular because of their inability to totally eliminate smuggling and tax evasion.

As I reported earlier, the negative impact of corruption on the economy is tremendous. According to a study, about 20% of the national budget is lost to corruption yearly. In fact, about $20 billion and P250 billion annually are lost to smuggling and tax evasion, respectively.

Both Commissioners of the two bureaus subscribe to the view that smuggling and tax evasion happen only because many, if not all, of the employees are corrupted.

Customs Commissioner Biazon went as far as recommending the abolition of the bureau to get rid of everyone.  He proposes that a private agency would perform the current duties of the bureau. It is revolutionary if it can be done. The people involved have their protectors, sponsors and “padrinos” who would be putting all the obstacles to prevent it from happening.

BIR Commissioner Henares was hoping to reduce the number of corrupt employees via retirement. Now she is saying the potential retirees have been doing everything to delay their retirement. The hidden benefits for active employment are too many to give them up too soon.

Amidst these difficulties embedded in the bureaucracy that include other agencies that are forced to retain corrupt employees, I am reminded of my proposal in response to a comment made by a Facebook friend regarding my article on the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Corona.

The S.A.L.N. Revolution

PNoy and his allies successfully removed a very powerful Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who was perceived as corrupt and a stumbling block for his goal of reforming the judiciary. He used a Constitutional provision and its enabling statute requiring a public officer or employee to “submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.” (Article XI, Section of the 1987 Constitution.

Chief Justice Corona’s failure to accurately and truthfully declare his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (S.A.L.N) constituted Betrayal of Public Trust. It was used to remove him from his powerful position.

In response to a comment from a Facebook friend regarding my article on the impeachment trial, I suggested that Corona’s conviction could also start the cleansing of the government bureaucracy by the removal of corrupt public officers or employees. By looking at their S.A.L.N., and their lifestyle, I am sure that discrepancies would be found, wealth would be hard to explain, and false and inaccurate statements would be discovered.

It should not be as hard to fire, retire, or force many, if not all, suspected public officers who have been corrupting the system to resign.

The S.A.L.N. revolution could start at the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue or done simultaneously in pre-selected government agencies.

A Presidential Task Force or a S.A.L.N. Revolutionary Committee that includes the Civil Service Commissioner could be formed to help the President plan, lead, organize, and control efficiently and effectively all activities or programs of action to attain the goals of the revolution.

President Cory Aquino ran a revolutionary government briefly. She had the chance to cleanup a Marcos built corrupt bureaucracy. She chose instead to forego the opportunity and opted for a democratic and republican Constitution duly ratified overwhelmingly by the Filipino people.

Within the Cory Constitution are several provisions that could still institute revolutionary changes in our government.

One of them is the S.A.L.N. Revolution! JUST DO IT!

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