Angara was the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act 9184 or what is now known as the landmark Government Procurement Reform Act passed in 2003.
The veteran legislator spoke about his experience in drafting, lobbying for and ultimately passing one of the biggest anti-corruption laws in the Philippines.
"It's a subject that probably doesn't interest a lot of people although it affects everyone, everyday: how the government procures goods and services. Nevertheless we were able to build a critical mass behind the reform," he said.
This law sought to modernize, standardize, and regulate the procurement activities of the government. Each government agency or branch must conduct competitive and transparent purchases by means of public bidding.
"This law is centered on the principle of transparency. The budget of every agency is known publicly through websites and bulletins, so that anybody, anywhere in the country can put together a tender," said Angara.
Angara recalled that the bill was created to address the ever-present problem of corrupt purchasing and acquisition practices in the government.
"We thought then, we must get rid of lawless frontier where anything goes. This was a time marked by confusion and chaos when it comes to state processes," he explained.
According to Angara, president of the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption, the Procurement Reform Act introduced an innovation to this movement: the creation of a watchdog formed by members of the civil society.
"These people serve as our eyes and ears to guard the process. They provide a very important check-and-balance to the transactions that
Angara concluded with a very simple but striking insight on the nature of reform in a democracy such as in the Philippines.
"Reform doesn't have to begin with a battalion. It can just start with one person," he said. (COMSTE)