By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:03:00 12/06/2008
ILOILO CITY – Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has called on Filipinos to start looking for honest leaders whom they would support in the 2010 elections as a way to fight graft and corruption.
“We are facing so many problems coming from corruption in governance and therefore I am calling on all to be united in fighting this evil so that we may able to give our country the kind of service that [it] deserves,” Lagdameo said in an interview at the sidelines of a forum on corruption and governance here on Tuesday.
In a speech at the forum, Lagdameo said the search for honest leaders for the 2010 elections should start now so that the people can choose whom to support in the elections.
“One year may not be too long to look for [honest leaders],” the prelate said.
He stressed that honesty is the most important trait that the people should look for in leaders.
“This is the message that leaders should take to heart, for those aspiring for positions. At least [be] honest [and] not [be] a liar,” Lagdameo said.
He said leaders should also provide a sense of direction and future for the people and be “enthusiastic, energetic and positive of the future.”
The country also needs leaders who are “inspiring, a cheerleader not only in the campaign period but as a matter of fact,” Lagdameo told forum participants.
Lagdameo made the call amid the ongoing Senate investigation on the alleged P728-million fertilizer fund scam that has implicated former Agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante. Bolante is suspected of diverting the fund to President Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidential campaign in 2004.
The scam and other controversial projects, including the $329-million ZTE-National Broadband Network project have cost the country trillions of pesos and has contributed to the worsening of poverty, said the forum’s main speaker Bobby Tuazon, director for policy study and political analyst of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (Cenpeg).
Citing a 2000 World Bank report, Tuazon said around $48 billion (P2 trillion) was lost to corruption from 1977-1997.
He also cited the 2004 report of the United Nations Development Program that about 13 percent, or P100 billion of the national budget for 2001, was lost to corrupt officials.
Corruption has been a major governance issue since the administration of President Manuel Roxas in 1947 until today, Tuazon said.