TODAY starts a week-long job-application and registration process for those who aspire to lead the nation.

The applicants have only until Friday, Oct. 16, to file their certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In all, 18,069 positions will have to be filled up.

Decision day is seven months away on May 9, 2016.

By their votes, registered Filipino voters – last counted at 53,786,223 by the last balloting in October 2013 – will have to employ:

* A president
* A vice president
* 12 senators
* 58 party-list representatives
* 235 district representatives
* 81 governors
* 81 vice governors
* 772 provincial board councilors
* 144 city mayors
* 144 city vice mayors
* 1,610 city councilors
* 1,490 municipal mayors
* 1,490 municipal vice mayors
* 11,924 municipal councilors
* A governor for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
* A vice governor for ARMM
24 ARMM assemblymen.

It is fortuitous that the Comelec has helped ease the decision-making process for voters. In a landmark move, the poll body has decided to require all candidates to sign on to an “Integrity Pledge.”

A veritable terms of employment, the Pledge at the very least serves voters a reference for the expected, dutiful, and lawful conduct that all candidates must swear to and live by.

Will they keep true to the Pledge? The voters will know best when hiring time comes.

The full text of the Integrity Pledge follows:


I sign this Integrity Pledge for free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections, and through my words and actions, commit to abide by the tenets of our Constitution, election laws, rules and regulations, respecting the sanctity of our electoral exercise.

I will not employ any form of violence, force, or threat that may impair, impede, or unduly influence the free exercise of the people’s right of suffrage. I will ensure the prompt and accurate, reporting and disclosure of campaign-related expenses.

I will not offer or give bribes or gifts to corrupt the integrity of our democratic process.

As a candidate seeking the people’s mandate in order to serve them, I shall respect the norms of conduct expected of public servants and commit to run a clean campaign, observing fairness, common decency, honesty and good faith.

All these, I commit and subscribe to, freely and voluntarily, fully accountable to Almighty God and to the Filipino people as my witnesses.

HEIDI MENDOZA of the Philippines’s Commission on Audit has been nominated to a senior position in the United Nations.

In a press advisory released from New York Oct. 5, the UN said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “following consultations with Chairs of Regional Groups, informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Heidi Mendoza of the Philippines as the new Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services for a five-year non-renewable term.”

Appointed to the COA in 2011 by President Benigno S. Aquino III, Mendoza is chairperson of the Audit Committee on Public Sector Auditing Standards Board, and External Auditor for the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization and International Labour Organization.

A certified public accountant, Mendoza has over 20 years of service in government particularly in the field of audit, investigation, fraud examination, anti-corruption and integrity advocacy.

September 15, 2015 · Posted in: General

DSWD clarifies points on PCIJ article

Reprinted from The Manila Times.

THIS has reference to the article written by Ms. Malou Mangahas, and Misters Fernando Cabigao and Vino Lucero entitled, “Tesda’s Billions: Rules don’t apply in PDAF-funded seminars” published in your paper on August 28.

We are writing to explain the issue raised in the article which said that, “Another P1.31 billion came just as the year was ending in December 2012, from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the implementation of TESDA-DSWD Cash-for­ Training Project (C4TP), though this was not used in 2012.”

We appreciate your concern on the implementation of the DSWD-TESDA partnership project.

While the information is true, we would like to clarify that the project was launched in the latter part of 2012 and the core implementation ran from 2013-2014.

C4TP is a partnership program with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). It is a training program which teaches participants employable skills and sustainable employment opportunities.

The program was implemented in January 2013, wherein 65,730 beneficiaries were targeted and entitled to P20,000 each to cover the training cost including transportation assistance, tool kits and tuition fees.

A total of 62,069 graduated out of the 64,299 students who were enrolled in the program. From the 64,155 assessments done on graduates, 54,729 were given TESDA certifications, and out of this, 43,661 were employed in different local companies and agencies. Please note that 64,155 assessments were done even if only 62,069 graduated because some graduates were assessed twice through “bundled courses,” e.g., Automotive Servicing NC I and Driving NC II.

Arnel Baldos, a person with disability from San Miguel, Leyte, was one of the recipients of the program. Arnel thanked the DSWD and TESDA for the joint program where he completed a two- month Consumer Electronic Servicing course.

There are several success stories of beneficiaries in various regions where the program was implemented and where our out-of-school youths benefited. Therefore, the fund was used for its intended purpose.

The Department believes that the program was implemented according to the principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability. The beneficiaries themselves can attest that the program helped and provided them a better chance of earning livelihood.

Assistant Secretary Javier R. Jimenez
DSWD Spokesperson
Department of Social Welfare and
Republic of the Philippines
(This letter is dated Sept. 8, 2015)

September 15, 2015 · Posted in: General

OVP’s reply to PCIJ

THE MILITARY in Thailand arrested on Sunday a prominent reporter and columnist of The Nation newspaper daily for “attitude adjustment.”

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called for immediate release of Pravit Rojanaphruk, who has reportedly been held incommunicado by the military since yesterday afternoon.

Pravit Rojanaphruk, who works for the The Nation daily, “was detained after responding to a summons for what the military authorities call ‘attitude adjustment,'” RWB reported.

Two military officers had previously visited the home of Pravit but failed to find him there.

According to RWB, the reporter “went to Army Region 1 Headquarters in Bangkok with Pawinee Chumsri of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and UN representative Pokpong Lawansiri but they were not allowed to accompany him when he arrested. His mobile phone was also confiscated.”

“Pawinee was subsequently told that Pravit had been taken to another military base, the name of which the authorities have not revealed,” RWB said. “When questioned today by The Nation, the military officers responsible for issuing the summons continued to refuse to say where or why Pravit is being held.”

“We strongly condemn Pravit Rojanaphruk’s arbitrary detention by the military junta and demand his immediate and unconditional release,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

“If the National Council for Peace and Order thinks he has committed a crime, it must refer the matter to the judicial authorities, who will announce what he is charged with and not hold him incommunicado without a valid reason. This is the behaviour of a dictatorship that is trying to intimidate independent journalists and encourage media self-censorship,” Ismael added.

Pravit is “a well-known critic of the junta and Thailand’s draconian lèse-majesté law, Pravit was already detained for seven days in May 2014, shortly after the military seized power,” RWB said.

Thailand is ranked 134th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

THE PHILIPPINES scored 64, on a scale of 0 to 100, for transparency of eight budget documents in the latest Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2015, a report on 102 countries in the world.

This piece of good news comes, however, with findings of weakness in budget oversight by the Philippine Congress, which got a dismal 36 points.

Yet still, budget oversight by the Commission on Audit got a 92-point score, while public participation, 67, one of the highest in the world.

The new Philippine rating for transparency of budget documents, a 16-point growth from 48 in 2012, puts the country in the top tier of 24 nations that provide substantial budget information to citizens.

The only independent, comparative, and regular measure of global budget transparency and accountability conducted every two years by independent civil society researchers, the OBS is a project of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) based in Washington, DC.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has served as country researcher for the OBS since 2008. Karol Ilagan and Charmaine P. Lirio of PCIJ did research for the Philippines for OBS 2015.

The OBS does not reflect opinion but measures observable facts using 140 indicators, according to a standard research methodology.

OBS 2015 Is the fifth to be released by IBP since 2006. It now covers 102 countries that are home to about 90 percent of the world’s population.

Not an opinion poll

The OBS uses documented evidence and objective criteria “to evaluate the extent to which national or central governments in 102 countries provide the public with timely and comprehensive access to eight key budget documents required by international good practices.”

The OBS also examines “the ability of legislatures and supreme audit institutions to provide effective oversight of government budgets and opportunities for the public to participate in the budget process.”

The OBS is not an opinion poll or a measure of perceptions. It is based instead on a rigorous, objective methodology subject to independent review.

Researchers were trained in the OBS methodology and required to test budget transparency in practice, visit with government offices to check compliance with publication deadlines, and interview key informants.

Documented evidence, including citation of a law, interview, a copy of a document, were required to back up the researchers’ answers to the questionnaire.

The completed 140-item questionnaires were checked by anonymous, independent reviewers. Government officials were offered an opportunity to comment on the questionnaire for their country. The IBP staff referee any disagreement between reviewers and researchers to arrive at the most appropriate answer for the questions.

What it is, isn’t

A subset of 109 questions from the 140-question OBS is used to construct the Open Budget Index (OBI) that determines a hard score, ranging from 0 to 100, on budget transparency for each country assessed. The Philippines’s score of 64 for budget transparency comes from the OBI.

Meanwhile, the extent of public participation in the budget process was measured in 16 questions, and the strength of oversight institutions, in 15 questions.

The OBI assigns a transparency score on a 100-point scale using 109 of the 140 survey questions, which focuses specifically on whether the government provides the public with timely access to comprehensive information contained in the eight key budget documents.

The OBS, however, “does not directly measure the accuracy of information contained in budget reports — whether the information provided is correct — or the degree to which government budgets are equitable and address the needs of their populace.”

Too, the OBS “does not measure corruption” but only “budget transparency, opportunities for the public to participate, and oversight capability.”

The link exists, however, according to IBP. “If corruption is to be tackled, governments will need to take many different measures. It is critical that governments tackle corruption and as a first step, increase budget transparency and thereby close one door through which corruption can occur.”


The Philippines’s score of 64 — for transparency of budget documents — in the OBI puts it on top of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In the last eight years, the Philippines’ OBI score has shifted up and down, however. It got 51 in 2006, 48 in 2008, 55 in 2010, 48 in 2012, and finally 64 in the latest report.

Public participation in the budget process got a 67-point grade, which is higher than the global average of 25,

Specific elements of public participation in the country was defined thus — Executive Branch – Adequate; Legislature – Limited; and Audit – Limited.

The sorriest point in the Philippines’s performance is budget oversight by Congress that got a dismal 36 points grade.

This poor score derives form following findings:

* “The legislature provides limited oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and weak oversight during the implementation stage of the budget cycle.”

* “A pre-budget debate by the legislature does not take place, and regular consultations on budget matters between the executive and the legislature do not take place.”

* “In both law and practice, the legislature is not consulted prior to the virement of funds in the Enacted Budget and spending contingency funds that were not identified in the Enacted Budget.”

In contrast, budget oversight by the supreme audit institution (Commission on Audit) scored a fantastic 92 points. This derives from the following factors:

* “The supreme audit institution provides adequate budget oversight. Under the law, it has full discretion to undertake audits as it sees fit.”

* “The head of the supreme audit institution cannot be removed without legislative or judicial approval, which bolsters its independence.”

* “The supreme audit institution is provided with sufficient resources to fulfill its mandate and has a limited quality assurance system in place.”


The OBS 2015 report raised the following recommendations for the Philippines:

On Improving Transparency

* Increase the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal by, for example, presenting expenditures for a multi-year period by the three expenditure classifications and by program and presenting more information on issues beyond the core budget.

* Increase the comprehensiveness of the Year-End Report.

On Improving Public Participation

* Provide detailed feedback on how public perspectives have been captured and taken into account.

* Hold legislative hearings to review and scrutinize Audit Reports.

* Provide detailed feedback on how public assistance and participation has been used by the supreme audit institution.

On Improving Budget Oversight:

* Ensure the legislature holds a pre-budget debate and the outcome is reflected in the Enacted Budget.

* Establish regular consultations on budget matters between the executive and the legislature.

* In both law and practice, ensure the legislature is consulted prior to the disbursement of funds in the Enacted Budget and the spending of contingency funds that were not identified in the Enacted Budget.


Efficient, effective, and accountable budget systems stand on three pillars: budget transparency, citizen engagement in the budget process, and formal oversight institutions. The absence of any one of these three components undermines the entire system, IBP said.

In OBS 2015, “only four of the 102 countries assessed — Brazil, Norway, South Africa, and the United States — have brought the three elements of their fiscal accountability ecosystem in line with international best practice.

New Zealand and Sweden were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 though in the OBI, or for transparency of budget documents.

But a large majority of the countries assessed – in which 68 percent of the world’s population lives – provide insufficient budget information. These 78 countries have OBI scores of 60 or less.

Worse still, “a troubling 17 countries provide scant or no budget information, with scores of 20 or less.”

According to IBP, “the prevalence of weak budget accountability ecosystems ultimately threatens national development outcomes and the success of global initiatives like the Sustainable Development Goals and agreements pending on addressing climate change.”

Additionally, “the 24 countries providing sufficient budget information tend to have higher levels of income, a freer press, and stronger democratic systems than the countries that provide insufficient budget information. Interestingly, more transparent countries are also typically perceived to be less corrupt.”

One surprising finding though is this: “Any country – irrespective of geographical location or income level – can establish open and accountable budget systems if the political will exists to do so.”

Interestingly, “the weakest performing countries (those with scores of 40 or below) actually have higher incomes, on average, than the countries with scores between 41 and 60.” This, IBP said, “likely reflects the many hydrocarbon revenue-dependent countries with very low levels of budget transparency,” with the exception of Mexico, Malawi, and Uganda.

A far larger number of countries (32) fail to meet the Survey’s standard of adequacy on any of the measures.

Bolivia, Cambodia, Chad, China, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Iraq, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam have been among the least transparent countries (with OBI scores of 20 or less) every single year they have been in the Survey.

Of the 25 countries whose scores placed them in the limited category when first surveyed (with OBI scores between 41 and 60), 19 either remain there or have fallen into lower categories in 2015.


TOP CLUSTER: On a scale of 0 to 100 in the OBI, the following countries landed in the top category – with scores of 88 to 62, in descending order:

New Zealand Sweden South Africa Norway United States, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, Romania, Peru, Russia, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Georgia, Mexico, Bulgaria, South Korea, Malawi, Portugal, Poland, Philippines, and Uganda

MIDDLE CLUSTER: On a scale of 0 to 100 in the OBI, the following countries landed in the top category – with scores of 41 to 59, in descending order:

Argentina, Indonesia, Spain, Chile, Colombia, Slovakia, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Mongolia, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Hungary, Kenya, Serbia, Botswana, Mali, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Namibia, India, Tanzania, Malaysia, Ukraine, Benin, Turkey, Cameroon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Honduras, Thailand, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste

BOTTOM CLUSTER: On a scale of 0 to 100 in the OBI, the following countries landed in the top category – with scores of 0 to 39, in descending order:

Dem. Rep. of Congo, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Mozambique, Albania, Morocco, Liberia, Rwanda, Macedonia, Zimbabwe, Trinidad and Tobago, Yemen, São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola, Tajikistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Algeria, Vietnam, Bolivia, Niger, Egypt, Fiji, China, Sudan, Venezuela, Cambodia, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

For further Information, visit

TAKING ON corruption is never easy. After two years of investigation by nearly three dozen lawyers of the Office of the Ombudsman reviewing thousands of documents, the corruption cases involving the use of pork-barrel funds against an incredible tally of legislators are far from being concluded. Many of the cases have not even reached trial stage.

The government’s efforts to clean up the pork-barrel mess have thus far produced plunder, graft, and bribery charges against eight legislators—three senators and five members of the House of Representatives—filed before the Sandiganbayan.

The eight are among over 100 legislators who purportedly participated in the misuse and abuse of the pork barrel, otherwise known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Read: Part 8 of PCIJ’s series on “Pork a la Gloria, Pork a la PNoy”
* Ombudsman on PDAF cases: Long, rough road to justice

A third complaint that the Department of Justice filed only last August 4 against two senators and seven former and current House members is still undergoing review by the Ombudsman.

“We consider these PDAF cases as [among] the most important cases that we are prosecuting,” Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard A. Mosquera tells PCIJ.

“In fact,” he adds, “a substantial number of prosecutors are involved [in these cases]. And our most senior prosecutors are directly supervising [them].”

After more than a year in court hearings, however, the Ombudsman has yet to get a conviction on the first eight cases that are now pending at the Sandiganbayan. Comments Mosquera: “Some cases proceed quickly, while others are not as quick.”

The investigation began on March 22, 2013 when the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) “rescued” Benhur Luy, from a Taguig City condominium owned by his cousin and boss, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Luy would later become a whistleblower exposing massive pork-barrel fraud, pointing to Napoles as the head of a network of bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that siphoned off pork-barrel funds in collusion with legislators.

Mosquera says the Ombudsman currently has 35 prosecutors exclusively focusing on the eight ongoing cases filed before the anti-graft court and five new PDAF cases. These prosecutors are apart from the scores of lawyers of the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office who continue to gather documentary and testimonial evidence against more potential respondents. Mosquera is serving as lead prosecutor in the cases. Mosquera heads the Ombudsman’s prosecution team.

For each of the eight cases, the Ombudsman is presenting some 5,000 documentary exhibits. The number shoots up to about 8,000 when the exhibits’ sub-markings are included. The number of witnesses who testify ranges from 30 to 50 per case.

“There is only one prosecution team for all the cases,” he says. “But on the other side, ang sa defense naman, iba-iba ang mga abugado ng mga akusado. So natural na iba-iba ang pagpapalakad nila ng depensa (But on the other side, the defense has a variety of lawyers representing the accused. Naturally, the way they carry out their defense would be different from each other).”

He can only be thankful that while the “fairly complicated” pork cases have required more than extraordinary attention on the part of the Ombudsman, these have also served as a landmark in how the regulatory and integrity agencies of government could work together to build cases against corruption.

“It’s very encouraging to share and to note,” Mosequera tells PCIJ, “for probably the first time in our history as a country, talagang nagtulong-tulong ang Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, National Bureau of Investigation, Anti-Money Laundering Council, Securities and Exchange Commission, and even the Civil Service Commission.” — PCIJ, August 2015