Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III today sought an investigation into reports of widespread corruption at the local government units (LGUs).
“Almost every week there is a story about local government executives, incumbent or retired, being indicted for corruption by the Ombudsman,’ Pimentel, chairman of the Senate’s oversight committee on local governments said.
The senator cited a published report which categorized LGUs as “No. 1 on the graft list” as the scorecard showed that in 2014, for the fourth straight year, mayors and other local executives again topped the list of public officials who faced graft complaints with 2,053 cases filed by the Ombudsman.
Although those figures have improved from a high of 3,854 cases in 2011, Pimentel said the number still showed the serious extent of the problem that has been the No. 1 subject of complaints by the public and investors planning to do business in LGUs.
He said businessmen are often saddled by so much bureaucratic red tape in transacting business with LGUs where “facilitation fees” are required to facilitate the processing and approval of permits and other local requirements.
Pimentel said there is need to institute enduring structural reforms to cut red tape and ease doing business in LGUs, by simplifying procedures and promoting transparency in local government transactions, among others.
He said the establishment of a “one stop shop” and the computerization of government records have helped reduce the volume of red tape normally associated with government transactions in the past.
But Pimentel stressed the need to further improve the system to stop local officials from turning their localities like their private turfs, and eliminate the temptation of violating the laws because of personal and vested interests.#