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18 August 2008

Metro Manila remains center of corruption in RP

By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:37:00 08/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Official corruption remains highest in Metro Manila, as it has for almost 30 years now, among all the regions of the country, according to the Sandiganbayan.

Figures released by the anti-graft court’s Judicial Records Division showed the capital region accounted for 23 percent (6,770 suits) of the 29,231 cases filed in the Sandiganbayan between February 1979 and May 2008.

Central Visayas (Region VII) and Southern Tagalog (Region IV) shared an equally large portion of the case pie with 11.32 percent (3,310 cases) and 10 percent (2,932 cases), respectively, the records showed.

Central Visayas comprises four provinces—Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. Southern Tagalog provinces include the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro and Romblon.

“The seat of government and the bulk of public funds are here in Metro Manila so it is not [unimaginable] that it would register the highest number of graft cases with the Sandiganbayan,” Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the phone on Monday.

Villa-Ignacio said most government officials were tempted to dip their hands into the public coffers for personal gain because of easy access.

We also don’t have enough field investigators to monitor them,” he added.

Only about 200 field investigators have been deployed to keep a tight watch on the country’s 1.5 million public officials, he said.

The Sandiganbayan listed 30 crimes the government officials were charged with. Malversation of public funds was the top offense, accounting for 9,231 cases. This was followed by violation of the Anti-Graft Law with 6,240 cases, falsification of public documents, 5,445 cases, and estafa, 4,394 cases.

Other cases at the Sandiganbayan involved perjury, bribery, murder, homicide, robbery, theft, kidnapping, slander, among others.

Of the 9,231 malversation cases handled by the court, 1,302 of them involved public officials in Metro Manila, followed by officials in Regions IV and VII with 906 and 853 cases, respectively.

But the records also showed that more government officials in Metro Manila were accused of violation of the anti-graft law, accounting for 1,777 cases of the 6,240 filed across the country.

About 1,200 graft cases were attributed to Region VII, while 626 suits involved public officials in Northern Mindanao (Region X). The region has five provinces, namely, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental.


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