Message of UNDP Country Director, Mr. Toshihiro Tanaka

Dec 19, 2013

1st State Conference on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption Implementation Review, Malacañang

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano;

Congressman Neptali Gonzales II;
Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Department of Foreign Affairs;
Secretary Leila De Lima, Department of Justice;
Commissioner Teresita Herbosa, Securities and Exchange Commission;
Chair Francisco Duque III, Civil Service Commission;
Chair Amando Tetangco Jr., Anti-Money Laundering Council;
Deputy Executive Secretary Michael G. Aguinaldo, Office of the President;
Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang;           
Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera;
Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III, PCDSPO;
Ladies and Gentleman.

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

I am very humbled and honoured to be invited to speak before you all, secretaries and key leaders of the state, united and committed to fight against corruption, and at the Opening of the First State Conference on the UN Convention on Anti-Corruption Implementation Review.

I would like to start this message with a quote from the message of our UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to commemorate Anti-Corruption Day on December 9:

“Corruption suppresses economic growth by driving up costs, and undermines the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources.  It breaches fundamental human rights, exacerbates poverty and increases inequality by diverting funds from health care, education and other essential services.  The malignant effects of corruption are felt by billions of people everywhere.  It is driven by and results in criminal activity, malfunctioning state institutions and weak governance.

Good governance is critical for sustainable development, and vital in combating organized crime.  Every link in the trafficking chain is vulnerable to corruption, from the bribes paid to corrupt officials by dealers in arms and drugs to the fraudulent permits and licenses used to facilitate the illicit trade in natural resources.”

UNCAC as a Framework for Integrity

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2003, and ratified by the Philippines in 2006, the UNCAC is a legally binding instrument of concrete anti-corruption measures. These include the prevention; criminalisation of corrupt conduct; the strengthening of international law enforcement and judicial cooperation; and the provision of legal mechanisms for
asset recovery, technical assistance, and information exchange.

The UNCAC, therefore, serves as the comprehensive framework by which we can equip, arm, and organise ourselves in the battle against corruption. By analysing gaps in UNCAC compliance, it allows us to identify key reforms which, if implemented, will greatly improve integrity, transparency, and good governance.

In this regard, it is important to note that the Government of Philippines has developed, 21-point “UNCAC Agenda” in December 2012, a multi-sectoral “Declaration of Commitments” for full institutional cooperation. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman to strengthen their partnership in the implementation and review of the UNCAC is also a demonstration of the high level commitment to move forward the anti-corruption agenda in the country.

In January, I attended
the 5th Global Conference of Parliamentarians Against Corruption held in Manila, together with 429 lawmakers from 78 countries, and witnessed the signing of the Manila Declaration. The declaration recognizes the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as the first legally binding and internationally accepted instrument in the fight against corruption.

UNDP Interventions

I would also like to stress the importance of the engagement of civil society in the fight against corruption. 
UNDP has a project with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission, titled, “Building a Corruption-Intolerant Society in the Philippines”. It has supported the establishment of Tripartite UNCAC Monitoring Group, made up of government, civil society, and the private sector. It is a very critical and commendable mechanism that allows citizens, together with government, to monitor the progress the nation is making in terms of complying with the UNCAC provisions. With the Integrity Caravan initiative with the Ombudsman, I have had a series of opportunities to reach out to the private sector, university students, civil society organizations, and now we will talk to people at the barangay level with the objective to promote and instill the culture of intolerance to corruption among all segments of the society, particularly the youth.

As we are all keenly aware, the Philippines has a very high exposure to natural disasters and climate change. It is alarming the fact that the country has been experiencing increased and intensified natural calamities in the recent past. Yesterday, there was the launch of Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda. Humanitarian community including the UN and INGOs also have been supporting the government’s efforts, day and night, in restoring the people’s lives and livelihoods that were affected by the Typhoon Yolanda.  It is important to highlight that one of the key factors to succeed in the recovery efforts is ensuring the accountability and transparency in the recovery operations.

How are we performing in the battle against corruption? There is a positive sign or indication that the Philippines is beginning to win the ground in our battle against corruption. For example in the Corruption Perception Index updated yearly by Transparency International, the Philippines ranked 94th in the world this year, improving from last year's 105th.
 In 2012, the Philippines jumped by 24 places from 129th in 2011.   It is a very commendable consistent trend and I would like to congratulate the government and its leadership for its far-sight and strong commitment in promoting good governance and anti-corruption as the over-arching goal and strategy of the Philippine Development Plan.

While we are on the right track, there is still a long road to go as the index shows still much lower than the half mark, 36, and therefore, it is very timely and critical to review the status of UNCAC implementation and identify gaps and actions to be taken.

To conclude my opening remarks, please allow me to again quote the Secretary General’s message:

“Corruption is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and needs to be taken into account in defining and implementing a robust post-2015 development agenda.  The UN Convention against Corruption, adopted 10 years ago, is the paramount global framework for preventing and combating corruption.  Full implementation depends crucially on effective prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery.  On this International Anti-Corruption Day, I urge Governments, the private sector and civil society to take a collective stand against this complex social, political and economic disease that affects all countries.  To achieve an equitable, inclusive and more prosperous future for all, we must foster a culture of integrity, transparency, accountability and good governance.

Maraming salamat po!


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