Senator Roxas seeks full transparency in gov't foreign trips

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments

Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas has sought more transparency and accountability in the use of public funds for the foreign travels of government officials and employees, including those in the uniformed service.

The senator has filed Senate Bill No. 2982, or the proposed Government Employees Official Travel Accountability Act of 2009, to discourage a recurrence of the "Euro Generals Scandal", which he lamented brought international infamy to the country.
"Siguruhin nating hindi na mauulit ang kahiya-hiyang eskandalong nangyari sa Moscow. Nakita na ng buong mundo kung gaano ka-korap ang administrasyong ito kaya kailangang ayusin natin ang sistema ng paggastos ng pamahalaan, lalo na iyong ukol sa mga biyahe sa abroad ng mga opisyales at kawani ng gobyerno (Let us make sure the Moscow scandal does not happen again. The world had glimpsed how corrupt our government is. Let us correct how our leaders waste the people's money, especially for the foreign travels of officials and employees)," he said.
The Ilonggo senator was referring to the arrest of retired police comptroller Eliseo dela Paz and his wife in Russia in October last year for their non-disclosure of 105,000 Euros (P6.9 million) that they brought to Moscow when they attended an Interpol meeting.

Dela Paz, during the Senate hearings into the scandal, has claimed the money was drawn from the Philippine National Police's (PNP) confidential and intelligence funds, supposedly for the purchase of intelligence equipment.

The incident drew flak from senators, who condemned the PNP leadership's lenience in the release of its intelligence funds and raised questions on the procedure by which such funds are disbursed.
"Nakita natin sa eskandalong ito kung paanong winawaldas ng ating mga opisyales ang pera ng taumbayan. Nadiskubre natin kung paano nila ginamit ang opisyal na biyahe sa ibang bansa upang makapagnakaw sa kaban ng ating bayan (We have witnessed how government officials waste the people's money. We have discovered how they used official foreign travels as a scheme to steal from the government coffers)," the Ilonggo senator said.
In proposing SB 2982, Roxas seeks to lay down specific guidelines for the authorized foreign trips of all public officials, such as prohibiting government officials or employees from joining travels abroad one year before his/her retirement, and define the allowable travel expenses for such travels.

The bill likewise mandates the disclosure of the full amount of foreign currency brought into or out of the country in the course of the official trip.

It also calls for the submission of a completion report of the official business attended, as well as an accounting and liquidation of the funds used for the official journey.

Penalties are also proposed for the non-disclosure of the amount of foreign currency carried out and into the country and for non-compliance with the reportorial and accounting and liquidation requirements.
"Hindi pa naman huli para maayos natin ang lumalalang korapsyon sa ating gobyerno. Umpisahan natin sa pagpasa ng panukalang batas na ito. (It is not yet too late for us to address the worsening corruption in our government. Let us begin by passing this proposed bill) Public office is a public trust. Huwag sanang balewalain ng aking mga kasamang senador ang tiwalang ibinigay sa amin ng publiko (I hope my colleagues in the Senate do not disregard the trust the public has given us)," Roxas said.



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Kevin Ray N. Chua

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