More govt officials demanding grease money, survey shows
The number of Filipino families who gave bribes or “grease money” to people in government had decreased but the number of government officials and employees soliciting bribes went up, according to the Office of the Ombudsman.
A survey conducted by the Ombudsman showed a shift in how bribery is practiced. It said that in 2010, bribery was initiated by the giver (3 out of 4 families), while in 2013, government officials solicited bribes (7 out of 10).
“A notable observation by the Office of the Ombudsman is the seeming shift in the bribery practice–from supply-driven to demand-driven,” the report said.
According to the anti-graft office, the decline in the number of those willing to give bribes may have emboldened corrupt officials to ask for it instead.
The survey showed that majority of those who were asked to give bribes were families seeking justice and those securing registry documents and licenses.
“More families accessing the justice system gave in to solicited bribery, indicating that law enforcers, public defenders and court officials can exert more influence on families to submit to the practice. The fact that officials expected to protect individuals from injustice are among the perpetrators of corruption invites serious concern,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.
Officials from government agencies involved in processing registry documents, property registration, clearances and licenses including mayor’s permits, building permits and sanitary permits were more likely to solicit bribes.
The survey showed that five percent or one out of 20 families that had at least one transaction with a government office claimed to have been asked for bribe or grease money.
Meanwhile, incidents where bribe was initiated were higher in families seeking basic social services compared to families transacting other services such as securing registry documents and licenses, accessing justice and paying taxes and duties, it was found.
According to the anti-graft office, one out of 20 families or 4.5 percent of families admitted giving bribes to avail of social services in 2013, which was slightly higher than the 4.1 percent in 2010.
“The social services listed in the survey include education, health care, social security, employment, livelihood and subsidies,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement.
Usually, those who avail of these types of government social services belong to the lower income stratum, the survey report noted. Bribes were supposedly given to get assurance that they will receive the services they need.
“Poor families do not only pay a higher price for corruption because of the basic services denied them due to government funds lost to corruption,” the Office of the Ombudsman lamented.
Meanwhile, there was a decrease in the number of families that gave “grease money” to avail of other government services.
For payment of taxes and duties, the figures went down from 6.1 percent in 2010 to 0.5 percent in 2013. For accessing justice, incidents also plunged from 9.9 percent to 2.3 percent, and for securing registry documents and licenses, from 10.3 percent to 2.1 percent.
“The report attributes the lower incidence of bribes to growing public intolerance toward corruption, as the citizenry is becoming more conscious of the ill-effects of corruption on individuals, especially the poor, and on the entire Philippine society,” the office said.
More families are also inclined to report bribery to authorities.
In 2010, 0.8 percent of families that gave in to solicited bribes reported the crime to proper officials. In 2013, the figure increased to 5.3 percent, including families that did not give bribes.
For those who did not report the incident, the most common reason was because they believed that the incident was not worth reporting or that the amount given was too small to bother with (59 percent). Other reasons were fear of reprisal (24 percent) and lack of time to report (21 percent).
The findings were part of the 2013 National Household Survey on Experience with Corruption in the Philippines, which was commissioned by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The survey involved 10,864 families.
The law punishes government officials and employees who directly or indirectly request or receive any gift, present, share, percentage or benefit, for himself or for any other person.
Penalties include imprisonment for not less than one year but not more than ten years, perpetual disqualification from public office, and confiscation or forfeiture of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth manifestly out of proportion to his salary and other lawful income.