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Senate bill increases jail term for corrupt public officials

August 28, 2013 1:11pm
Corrupt public officials may soon have to spend more years in jail after a bill was filed in the Senate seeking to amend the country's anti-corruption law.

In Senate Bill 1086, Senator Teofisto Guingona III proposed that corrupt public officials be imprisoned from 12 to 20 years.

The measure seeks to amend Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which sets the jail term of corrupt public officials from six to 15 years.

In a statement, Guingona said he filed the bill to "fortify our laws against graft and corrupt practices" and make the laws "correspond to the needs of the times."

"We need a concerted effort in battling graft and corruption. The issue of accountability among public officials as well as private individuals has reached a boiling point," he said.

The bill also seeks to lengthen the prescription period for corruption offenses from the current 15 years to 20 years. A prescription period sets the limit for filing charges from the time that the crime occurred.

The measure also empowers the government to "recover properties unlawfully acquired" by corrupt public officials even beyond the prescription period.

"While we work on the speedy resolution of cases in our country, we must not allow prescription of cases to stop us from recovering what is unlawfully acquired. If what was stolen is from the people, then it must be returned to the people," Guingona said.

Guingona's bill came at the height of the indignation caused by the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds by several lawmakers, an issue that led the largest protest assembled under the Aquino administration.

The proposed legislation needs to undergo committee and plenary debates and voting before it can be approved by the Senate. Andreo C. Calonzo/KBK, GMA News
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