BREAKING off from his usual bombast, President Duterte found an opportunity earlier this week to reiterate his campaign promise of a clean government to give the public a respite from corruption.
The words were modest but they came with a warning of harsh retribution for anyone who fails to heed his entreaty for honesty in public service.
If Duterte can bring to this campaign the same resolve with which he has pursued his administration’s war against illegal drugs, erring government officials just might get the message at last. Fact is, he could and should have acted sooner.
In his State of the Nation Address almost six months ago, Duterte placed his finger on one of the most stubborn obstacles of a serious crusade to stamp out corruption – the country’s outmoded bank secrecy law. Not only does it inhibit the State’s effort to recover ill-gotten wealth, it likewise provides convenient channels to fund organized crimes, even terrorism.
Since that day in July, the trail has gone cold as legislators openly ignored Duterte’s call to relax confidentiality policies on suspicious bank accounts and other financial instruments.
All save one. Senator Panfilo Lacson filed Senate Bill 1025 seeking access to deposits and bank records of suspected drug personalities.
By denying avenues of easy movement of funds, the government can also stifle the operations of bigtime narco-traders. Sadly, the measure remains pending raising only cursory interest
Recovering ill-gotten gains from criminals and grafters require a law to give public offices the wherewithal to prevent felons from enjoying the fruits of their misdeeds.
The Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Audit have all tried with little to show for their efforts.
While his political capital remains intact, Duterte should now put the heat on Congress to pass a bill opening up bank secrecy laws. – PT.