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    Posted January 20, 2014 by

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    Don’t plunder, Phl senator warns

    PHILIPPINE Senator President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday said a special provision of the P20-billion budget for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program in the 2014 national budget inflicts long jail terms and hefty fines for those who will embezzle rebuilding funds.
    Recto was referring to the "do not plunder" warning the Senate has erected in the P20 billion fund to rehabilitate Yolanda-hit and quake-damaged areas in Central Philippines in November 8 last year.
    The provision states that "any government official, employee and person who shall misuse any amount of the fund under his control or administration shall suffer the maximum penalty imposed under the Revised Penal Code, Republic Act 3019, Republic Act 7080 and under penal laws."
    The senator issued the warning following persistent reports the budget for the construction of bunkhouses in Tacloban City is being slashed.
    Recto said under RA 7080, or the Anti-Plunder Law, life imprisonment and a life-time ban on holding public office shall be meted out to any person who amasses at least P75 million in bribes or kickbacks from government projects.
    Republic Act 3019 punishes graft and corrupt practices with imprisonment of up to 10 years, a perpetual ban from occupying public office and confiscation of unexplained wealth manifestly out of proportion of the guilty official's lawful income.
    Stealing a measly P200 in public money, on the other hand, will result in prison time of between six months and six years under the Revised Penal Law.
    Recto praised Sen. Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate finance committee, for drafting the language of this "plunder warning" provision.
    "This is the first time that a provision of this nature has been incorporated in the national budget and this is thanks to Senator Chiz," Recto said.
    "In simple language, there’s strong warning against misuse of the budget," Recto explained.
    After a series of manmade and natural calamities hit Philippines on the second half of last year, Recto said the Senate, by cutting the fat and trimming the overhead of some government agencies and programs, cobbled together a P20-billion fund for the rebuilding of disaster-hit areas.
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