November 8, 2009, 5:26pm

Here in Jakarta, Indonesia, the public is engrossed with the investigation of an alleged plot to frame Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputies Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah. Ari Muladi, a key witness who had earlier testified to having handed over U$540,000 to the two officers, withdrew his statement because he could not sleep due to the guilt as “it was a lie” as reported in The Jakarta Post, Sunday edition. The money had been provided by businessman Anggodo Widjojo, the younger brother of graft suspect fugitive Anggoro Widjojo, to be given to the KPK leaders to persuade them to halt investigations into a corruption case.

Wiretapped recordings played in the Constitutional Court as part of its judicial review of the law on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) implicated senior officials of the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office in the frame-up. The live recordings made many Indonesians aware of how Anggodo with his money had close relations with both the police and state prosecutors.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had to set up a fact-finding team to review the case against Bibit and Chandra as well as other graft cases involving top-ranking officials. The team of eight has in its ranks the country’s legal experts such as Buyung, Todung Mulya Lubis, and scholars Anies Baswedan, Hikmahanto Juwana a and Komaruddin. They threatened to resign if their recommendations will not be adopted. Yet it took President Yudhoyono to order the National Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri to make Snr. Comr Susno Duadji step down for the duration of the inquiry for one of their recommendations to be implemented.

President Yudhoyono’s re-election is widely seen as an affirmation of the anti-corruption drive led by the KPK. Supporters of the KPK deputies included students and professionals who earlier Saturday had met their goal of 1,000,000 Facebook supporters.

Ten students are also holding a hunger strike in front of the offices of KPK in a similar show of support. They have threatened to go back to their campuses and ask their fellow students to take mass action if the government does not decisively act on the case.

KPK’s success can be attributed to its wide powers which combine both investigative and prosecutorial capabilities.

This is also why it has found ready enemies in both the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office. However, public opinion is obviously on the side of the reformers – KPK.

How different is the situation in Indonesia and here in the Philippines! There are two Anti-Corruption Units – one is the Ombudsman and other a Presidential Anti-Graft agency under the Office of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It is an understatement to conclude that these two units can not muster public support, mainly because they are seen as not doing their job or just focusing on the “small fry.”

It is left to the legislative bodies to undertake investigations in “aid of legislation” to address the overwhelming public clamor for the truth behind the so many scandals surrounding the Arroyo administration. Even though the legislators and their staff are not equipped to undertake the type of evidence gathering that an Anti-Corruption Unit can, the of the investigations have provided rich leads as well as convincing testimonies that a determined Ombudsman can easily build on. It is unfortunate that the present leadership in both Anti-Corruption units are seen as ignoring the output of the legislators, dragging their feet on complaints against high government officials.

It is clear that in the Arroyo administration, there will be no hope for the public to ever know the truth behind all the accusations against President Arroyo and her cohorts. We must wait for the next administration which definitely will come from today’s opposition. Whether the next president will be former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, former Senate President and former Speaker of the House Manny Villar, or sitting Senator Noynoy Aquino, it is certain that they will allow the course of justice to flow unhampered and bring to the courts all those who profited in the Arroyo administration to the detriment of the impoverished Filipino people.

It may be worth considering the formation of a Philippine KPK to do the job.

Business Bits. The Indonesian experience has shown that it takes a national leadership committed to exercise political will to eradicate corruption to make significant progress. The Philippines is still looking for such national leaders.

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