03/04/2008 | 03:31 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Corruption scandals in the last seven years
under the Arroyo administration have cost Filipinos at least P7.3
billion, according to militant think tank IBON Foundation Tuesday.
In a statement, IBON said with six corruption scandals so far, including
the $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam, President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo has become the most corrupt president the country has ever
"President Gloria Arroyo may indeed be the most corrupt president
the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people
in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office,"
the Ibon statement read.
Other scandals under the Arroyo administration were the P728-million
fertilizer scam, the Jose Pidal bank accounts, the Northrail project,
the $14-million IMPSA power plant project, the P1.3-billion poll automation
project, and the Macapagal Boulevard project.
IBON said the amount could have been used to provide badly-needed
education and health services to millions of impoverished Filipinos.
"For example, it could have been used to help the Department
of Education (DepEd) bridge its resource gaps of classrooms, textbooks
and teachers," it said.
Citing DepEd figures, IBON said the DepEd's 2008 budget is still
P8.43 billion short to bridge its resource gaps for the year.
On the other hand, it said the amount could also have been used to
increase subsidies for indigent patients in government hospitals such
as the Philippine General Hospital.
"These cases also indicate the Arroyo administration's high
tolerance for corruption, since none of them has ever been satisfactorily
resolved. In fact, the Ombudsman only filed graft and corruption charges
against former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez in January 2007 or
six years after the charges were made public," it noted.
Perez allegedly received a $2-million bribe so that the Department
of Justice would give the go-ahead for a $470-million contract to
IMPSA for rehabilitation of the CBK hydroelectric plant in Laguna.
"Clearly, corruption is inherent in a liberalized backward economy
and has greatly benefited the Arroyo administration for the past seven
years, while it continues to worsen the incidence of poverty and deny
much-needed social services to millions of Filipinos," IBON said.