Philippines' Aquino wants judicial reform


  • World
  • Wednesday, 12 May 2010

MANILA (Reuters) - Senator Benigno Aquino, far ahead in the Philippine presidential election count on Wednesday, said he will move quickly to fulfil his vow to investigate the outgoing administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Aquino said it was necessary to reform the judicial system as Arroyo, who has said she will ensure a smooth transition before her term ends on June 30, appointed Renato Corona on Wednesday as the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Aquino campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption and improving governance, and told Reuters on Tuesday he would tackle the budget deficit by reviewing government spending and boosting revenues through cracking down on tax evasion.

"There is a necessity also for reforming our judicial system so we are not locked in a battle in the courts in the next two decades," Aquino said.

When the decision to allow Arroyo to appoint a chief justice was announced, after the court's judges ruled it did not violate an election ban on political appointments, it sparked protests she was trying to protect herself from investigation or to remain in power if the election failed.

INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS

Aquino has promised to investigate allegations of electoral fraud, corruption and rights abuses by the outgoing administration, which denies any wrongdoing.

"We need to have closure on all items like the fertiliser scam. We lost 720 million pesos ($16 million). Who is responsible for this? Let's also look at the ZTE."

In both cases Aquino mentioned, there are allegations of overpaying for deals and diversion of funds.

"We can set up a specific body. The DOJ can have a task force on the fertiliser scam and collate all the necessary evidence, prepare a very strong case, and have the judiciary look at it as soon as possible. So there is no reason why you cannot expedite the solution of these cases," Aquino said.

"I still have to consult the DOJ on how best to go after this" Aquino, son of democracy hero Cory Aquino who was president from 1986-1992 after the overthrow of the Marcos regime, is set to assume the presidency after an election that ran better than many had expected.

Election commission Comelec has stopped updating its unofficial tallies, having said Aquino had more than 40 percent of votes, leading former president Joseph Estrada by 15 percentage points, with nearly 80 percent of ballots counted.

Estrada has said he won't concede based on unofficial results but does not plan any protest of the outcome.

(Additional reporting by Rosemarie Francisco and Manolo Serapio Jr.; Writing by John Mair; Editing by Andrew Marshall)

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