President Enrique Peña Nieto yesterday promulgated the secondary laws of the National Anti-Corruption System, making it a day that “will be remembered as the beginning of a new era for democracy and the rule of law.”
Peña Nieto said that Mexicans are offended by corruption, which was why his administration set in motion the creation of measures to combat corruption and promote transparency. “I am more than committed to combat corruption, hence the importance of the system,” he said.
The president said his administration will work to eradicate the abuses of those who fail to comply with the law and harm the reputation of millions of public officials who perform honestly and with integrity.
The legislation has been praised and criticized, the latter for failing to include all the measures of a so-called “3-of-3” bill that was created by a citizens’ initiative supported by 600,000 signatures.
During the promulgation ceremony, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and a member of the opposition Democratic Revolution Party, Jesús Zambrano Grijalva, said the system was incomplete because the “3-of-3” bill was not approved in the form it was presented to Congress.
Zambrano offered a positive endorsement of the president for exercising his veto over the 32nd article of the Anti-Corruption System, which would have required all recipients of public funds, including businesses that provide government with services, to make the three-way disclosure of personal assets, tax information and economic interests that gave the “3-of-3” legislation its name.
But at the same time Zambrano lamented that the 29th article — which makes the three-way disclosure discretionary for public officials — wasn’t revised to make it mandatory.
However, despite the inadequacies Zambrano said he was convinced that the new laws represent “a very important and significant first step in the fight against corruption.”
For his part, Roberto Gil Zuarth, president of the Senate and a member of the National Action Party, said that civil society and legislators together have built a set of anti-corruption laws the likes of which “not even Obama has.”
With regard to the 29th article, Gil said that the modifications made to the original proposal gave the entire set of laws “a legal and ethically correct equilibrium.”
“Legal because we must always remember that public officials are citizens with full enjoyment of their rights, and ethically correct because we must also remember that the state is weakened when a public official’s minimum [constitutional] guarantees are curtailed.”
Eduardo Bohórquez, executive director of Transparencia Mexicana and a representative of the social and academic organizations that promoted the “3-of-3” bill, said the fight against corruption and impunity will continue.
He thanked the more than 600,000 citizens who signed their support for the bill, whose intention was to “transform the regime we live in through the institutions.”
Since corruption and impunity harm the democratic life of the country, Bohórquez made a call to “dismantle the networks of corruption that operate at all levels of the government.”
President Peña Nieto also used the occasion to offer an apology for what became known as the Casa Blanca scandal, in which a contractor that had won important government contracts and was run by a friend of the president built a mansion for him and his family.
Peña Nieto apologized for the incident, the story of which broke in the fall of 2014. “I apologize for the Casa Blanca, I made a mistake. A mistake that affected my family and damaged the institution of the presidency,” he said in a report by VICE News, which also said the president was vague about what exactly he was apologizing for.
“The information revealed about the so-called Casa Blanca triggered a lot of indignation. I felt the irritation of Mexicans in my own skin, and I understand it completely. That’s why I am asking for forgiveness with complete humility.”