Anti-corruption body gets ball rolling on complaints

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By Arjay L. Balinbin

IN ITS first month in office, President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-corruption body has received at least 700 cases, including “inherited” corruption cases on the watch of former president Benigno S.C. Aquino III, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner and spokesperson Greco Antonious Beda B. Belgica said.

“The PACC officially received, as of today, around 700 [corruption] cases, including yung mga minanang (those inherited) cases from the previous administration,” Mr. Belgica said in a phone interview with BusinessWorld last Friday, April 13.

Mr. Duterte inducted the PACC commissioners on March 6. The Commission’s mandate is to assist the Office of the President in investigating corrupt and erring public officials in the performance of their duties.

Mr. Belgica also said that through his personal Facebook page alone, he has received at least “15,000” complaints from various individuals.

Asked how the Commission is handling the increasing number of complaints, Mr. Belgica said: “We are in the process of organizing the structure of the Commission. It includes the staffing, because there should be investigators, fact-finders, and lawyers who will weigh out and build up cases based on the complaints and evidence provided by the complainants.”

Also on his Facebook page, Mr. Belgica posted on April 5 a copy of the “Sumbungan” form or the Public Anti-Corruption Report and Action (PARA) report form, which people can use to have their complaints processed by the PACC.

“We will also accept [social media] messages, video messages, and photos. We can start from there. We have lawyers and investigators who will look into those reports. Of course, there are reports which do not have sufficient evidence. Those reports will all be put in the fact-finding department for them to build up a case,” he explained.

The PACC’s rules and regulations on processing complaints will be published on May 8, Mr. Belgica added.

The Commission, he also disclosed, recently passed a resolution that allows it to conduct lifestyle checks on “all government officials nationwide.”

The PACC has also an existing deputation resolution, “where we will deputize both public officials and private persons who would like to participate in our anti-corruption efforts. They can do it ‘anonymously’ by texting, by sending us a message on Facebook, by coming to our office, or by submitting a complaint letter,” Mr. Belgica said.

There is also an “informer’s reward” system as approved by the President. “All individuals who will give us information about corrupt government officials shall receive up to 25% of the total amount that will be recovered by the government,” Mr. Belgica said.