What Happened to Anti-Graft Grant?

While she never mentioned it in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, President Arroyo may want to update the nation on what she did with the P1-billion grant from the United States to fight corruption. 

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said it would be greatly ironic if the P1 billion from the United States government, along with a P1-billion counterpart from the Philippine government, would be lost to the very thing they were supposed to fight.

“I wanted to hear her side. It’s a grant worth the equivalent of P1 billion from the US government. There was a requirement of P1 billion counterpart from the Philippine government, and she mentioned it very prominently during the last SONA,” Lacson said.

He was referring to the US government’s grant of P1 billion in June last year for anti-corruption efforts. Mrs. Arroyo at the time ordered the Budget Department to immediately release a counterpart P1 billion fund.

During her SONA last year, Mrs. Arroyo had said the government’s “reforms” earned it P1 billion from the United States Millennium Challenge Account for more investigators, prosecutors and new technology to fight corruption. She said the P1-billion counterpart fund will come from “fiscal savings.”

But Lacson said Mrs. Arroyo has yet to give the nation an update on how the government had used the grant. “Of course we had lifestyle checks but those are going after small fry and we have yet to see a big shot being jailed or being charged with graft and corruption,” he said.

Lacson voiced concern the “anti-corruption” efforts may go the way of Mrs. Arroyo’s promise at last year’s SONA to effect political reforms, only to have another son, Diosdado, join his brother Juan Miguel and uncle Ignacio in Congress.

“During the last SONA she vowed reforms in the political and electoral systems. What happened? There’s another Arroyo in Congress, Dato Arroyo. Maybe that’s the political reform she was talking about last year. As for the electoral reform, maybe she was referring to Mindanao. Again, Maguindanao became the center of cheating of so many questions regarding the last election,” he said.