Corruption could get worse after 2016

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A respected economist who has authored books and adviced leading corporations isn’t one to get national affairs horribly wrong. So the audience was all ears when he declared that whoever wins the 2016 presidential elections, governance would be better, and corruption harder to get away with.

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Why? Because, he said, after the reforms of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, the public is much more vigilant now. For instance, the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona over undeclared wealth in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, has made SALNs a potent tool against grafters. So is the Anti-Money Laundering Act, with AMLA used to unveil politicians’ finances in corruption probes and cases.

This writer, who has held the economist in high regard since meeting him in the 1970s, can only wish with 100 million other Filipinos that he is right in his belief that the citizenry is more alert and active against graft.

However, certain undeniable realities give pause to such optimism. Indeed, these plain and painful truths suggest the very opposite of what the economist predicted. What has transpired during the Aquino years may actually make corruption and misgovernance more prevalent, rapacious, and entrenched in the next presidency, whoever wins it.

Tuwid na Daan makes graft worse
Let’s start with the cited SALN and AMLA mechanisms to fight graft. They certainly are effective instruments if applied to all officials without fear or favor. And that’s the problem. In fact, inquiries into suspicious asset statements and financial transactions have been used only against perceived opponents of the Aquino administration.

The same can be said of pretty much about the entire anti-corruption campaign. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s constant delays in charging administration congressmen over pork barrel anomalies prompted the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to decry “selective prosecution” of the Priority Development Assistance Fund scandal.

So our esteemed economist, who earned his doctorate at a top Ivy League university, would need to explain how the partisan use of anti-graft measures would deter most politicians and government executives, who are mostly from or close to the ruling camp.

It certainly did not give pause to Aquino associates like shooting buddy and former Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, accused by Archbishop Oscar Cruz of receiving jueteng payoffs; and resigned Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima, yet to explain his well-appointed houses in Camp Crame and Nueva Ecija.

Nor did it stop such irregularities as the disappearance of 2,000-plus cargo containers in 2011, the largest spate of smuggling in the country ever; the Metro Rail Transit anomalies burdening and endangering MRT commuters every day; and the alleged billion-peso military helicopter deal scam exposed by this newspaper.

In sum, by targeting only political adversaries, Aquino’s Tuwid na Daan campaign against corruption actually encourages many grafters who find shelter within the dominant Liberal Party and its allies. So how can that policy of selective investigation and prosecution deter future corruption, especially if the LP wins power again?

Media and public forget excesses
As for the economist’s view that heightened public vigilance would further discourage sleaze, in fact, the Aquino administration and its media allies have time and again made Filipinos forget about controversies.

How many of you still remember or even know about the smuggling, MRT and armed forces chopper anomalies cited earlier? What about the $30-million bribery solicitation attempt exposed by the Czech company Inekon and the Czech Ambassador himself, for which no one has been held accountable?

And do we still remember that President Aquino himself ordered a probe into the billion peso PNP rifle bidding which was allegedly overpriced? Whatever happened to that and so many other Palace-ordered probes?

Not to mention the pork barrel scam, which surely implicated more than just three opposition senators and other non-administration legislators, and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court wanted investigated by the Ombudsman.

Rather than vigilance, in fact, the public has amnesia over scandals, getting all worked up when the media breaks the news, but losing interest when top newspapers and broadcasters drop the scam from the headlines.

The latest demonstration of this public fickleness is the rebound in President Aquino’s net satisfaction rating, rising 19 percentage points to plus-30 percent last month after hitting its lowest plus-11 percent in March. This despite no substantial action by Malacañang to address the Mamasapano massacre issues which brought down ratings.

As some may remember — and if one doesn’t, that’s precisely the problem — Aquino lost support for failing to explain his actions during the attack on PNP Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25. There was also much public objection to Aquino’s Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

If he had detailed his actions during the rebel assault that killed 44 SAF troopers, one would understand the ratings rebound. Yet Aquino has still refused to tell all, and his purported offer to disclose cellphone records is all but forgotten.

If the Palace had pulled back on its drive to get the BBL passed with little revision and before Congress adjourned this month, then that would explain why Filipinos rated Aquino higher. But in fact, he reportedly used not just financial largesse, but also pork barrel prosecution threats to get the bill passed by the House of Representatives committee with little revision.

So we must again ask whether the citizenry is indeed vigilant against misgovernance, or prey to media manipulation. And how will it be if the schemers so good at making people forget their schemes, emerge victorious in 2016?

And even if they lose, the winners saw how the nation was hoodwinked into allowing gross excesses, including the wholesale bribery of Congress, yet still rating Aquino high. All that doesn’t augur well for future governance.

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24 Comments

  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    22 June 2015

    There is a lot of truth in what Manila Times columnist Ricardo Saludo reveals on the subject of this Administration’s obviously selective hounding of grafters in government.

    If this Administration were not guilty of being Selective, hundreds if not thousands more of these malefactors should now have been investigated, charged, sentenced, and sent to prison, preferably to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

    The reason is that corruption, like a malignant cancer, has metastasized throughout the Body Politic, For a long time now, it has afflicted the whole Pyramidal Bureaucratic edifice, starting from the Apex and moving down through the intermediate levels and right down to the Barangay level. It is in fact a SYSTEMIC problem.

    What is worse is that aside from Selective prosecution, the Prosecutorial and Judicial machinery of Government seems incapable of meting out “speedy and equal justice” to all those who are already charged with high crimes. A case in point is former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who has been facing the charge of “rigging the 2007 elections,” a non-bailable crime, before the Pasig City Regional Trial court, and with Plunder, another non-bailable crime, for which she has been charged before the Sandiganbayan! What’s galling to many people, is that she has successfully feigned illness–but continues to discharge her duties as a Representative from Pampanga.

    Columnist Ricardo Saludo could be right: “Corruption will get worse after 2016.”

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    Lapulapu1927@yahoo.com

  2. Alert, maybe. Active against graft – I don’t think so. The Filipinos have apparently become callous and indifferent to the corruption that is happening around us. We complain but don’t take concrete steps to eradicate the rampant corruption going on – disguised as ‘Matuwid na Daan’ and the administration’s shameless declaration “Pag walang kurap – walang mahirap!”.

  3. Ang kasalanan kasama ang mga dapat ginawa na hindi ginawa (omission). Hence, Pnoy administration and DOJ/Ombudsman are guilty of omission.

  4. Surveys in the Philippines are fake bought and paid for lies. Whoever will pay the price for one of those fake survey’s by pulse asia can have it say whatever they want.
    Thanks to the supreme court these fake survey companies don’t have to disclose who paid for it or the survey size, they just make up the data.

    • Are we again talking about ‘Mahal Mang-ahas’s SWS? He is just the abbreviated form of conscript media, and only serves the purpose of conditioning the unsuspecting mind of the ‘masa’ to believe whatever lies they can spin in favor of their highest bidder (or power that be). Guys, theirs is just business for profit – not to inform but to dis-inform the public.

  5. I am sorry sa kung sino man na nagsabi na kahit sino ang mananalo ay hindi mawawala ang corruptions. You are pathetic. Hindi lahat ng utak ay katulad ng utak mo Mr.?? marahil isa ka sa mga tumatanggap sa payola ng administrasyong ito..
    Ang gobyernong ito ay full of vindictive at vengeance.. at hindi lang ito, napaka bobo at walang alam sa pagpapatakbo ng bansa ang mga nasa gobyerno lalong lalo na ang presidente. In my own oipinion ang alam lang presidenteng ito ay buy and sells initiative. Sa marketing lang siya magaling, magbenta ng ari-arian ng gobyerno, hindi sa pagpapatakbo ng bansa. Not all of us ay IDIOT and STUPID forever sa libro ni Madam Santiago…
    We will not elect IDIOT and Stupid people !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The results say otherwise, there are a few senators who are not corrupt but the majority are.

      Out of 23 senators 18 were on the Napoles list, only 3 opposition senators were charged. Who has the power to shield the other 15 ?

      18 corrupt senators that were elected by either a rigged election where the voting machines were found to have the security and accuracy components removed.

      Really doesn’t matter if you think the people will elect idiot, stupid and corrupt since your votes don’t count. The Liberal Party will do your voting for you and elect the same corrupt senators and whoever they want to be president.

  6. P.Akialamiro on

    Your trusted ‘Economist’ must be an Abnoy man! The former CJ’s case has the effect of more harm than good. That case was rooted on the HL case ruled by the SC against it, and Corona happened to be the CJ at that time. It was rather a model of “vindictiveness”, of “partiality”, of “divisiveness” and of “incompetence”.

    How could it be a model case when ‘millions of pesos’ was given to “corrupt” members of Congress to convict the former CJ? The conviction was not based on evidence legally presented, but of “political exigency”. Lastly, who are being accused and incarcerated as of now? Let’s be realistic!

  7. Vic PenetranteVic on

    That is why it is called corruption, the state from bad to worse to worst. Sorry for the corrupted, but there is no getting a lawyer on Judgment Day.

  8. Bert O. Romero on

    Mr. Saludo, if SALN’s and AMLC are tools to unearth corrupt acts, is Corona the ideal model? Shouldn’t it be the Binays who were never mentioned in your column? It seems as election comes nearer, journalistic objectivity becomes the first casualty.

  9. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Whoever is that economist probably is benefiting from largesse coming from P-Noy and administration. He has been harping with his eyes and ears closed and only his nose and mouth open to smell and taste, the largesse received. And, that is selling oneself to the devil. There is no such thing as daan na matuwid only daan liko-liko, baku-baku, and walang-wala under this compensation. God bless the Philippines.

  10. Which is why I am tempted to let China take over this hopeless country. In China, there are no long investigations and trials. Crooks and incompetents are shot in the head, and that’s that.

  11. The survey, therefore, was a model in contrasting results. Pnoy’s inaction on the Mamasapano massacre caused his satisfaction ratings to plummet to 11 per cent. His inaction on the same after two months or so raised the same ratings by 19 per cent to 30 per cent. Now, how can we trust these surveys?

  12. rene catalasan on

    Mr. Saludo, hindi ako saludo sa iyo!. Alam mo kung bakit? Una, hindi natural sa tao ang bugbuging muna ang kaibigan bago ang kalaban. Nai-isip mo ba yon? Pakisagot lang ang tanong kong ito sa next column mo, okay?

    • gangster dn naman pala takbo ng utak mo! walang hustisya! dapat bugbugin lahat ng may kasalanan, hindi lng kalaban kundi mga kaibigan na masahol pa sa asong ulol!!!

    • What the hell does that even mean? In politics, special favor should never be given to anyone because that emboldens them to commit more crimes without fear of punishment. A crime is still a crime even if a friend of yours has done it; and the same degree of punishment and expediency of levying that punishment should be observed whether they are friend or foe. All should be equal in the eyes of the law.

      Boy this isn’t some small-time case where you can overlook the misdeeds of your friends. This is about the management of the country – with the lives of millions of people on the line.

      The point is that the amount of money that Aquino’s allies has siphoned from the country could very well far outweigh the amount corrupted by Aquino’s opponents.

      Now do you still stick with your stance that your “friends” shouldn’t be beaten-up? Does it even occur to you that Aquino’s term is near its end and we’re already far-off from the timeline you seem to be living in?

      I for one don’t care if the criminal was my friend, I’d still turn him in. You seem like the kind of person who will help him get away with it.

      The time for Aqunio to punish his enemies is nearing its conclusion. It’s time to assess whether his “friends” really are his friends.

    • Manuel Jaime jr on

      Ang ibig mo bang sabihin e basta kaibigan,pabayaan na lang kahit n harap-harapan e garapalan na ang pagnanakaw?,dahil kaibigan kahit puro kawalanghuyaan na ang piggagagawa e,ok lang at pabayaan?,dahil kaibigan e,kahit na 44 na SAF ang namatay e pabayaan na lng at bahala na ang taongbayan ang maghusga.Ganon ba yun? dahil kaibigan pagtakpan na lng? Dapat pala hindi nag-Presidente si Pnot,dapat nag-pari para puro patawad na lng ang gagawin niya sa mga nagkakasala,tama?

    • Jerry Ocampo on

      Pare, iba ang takbo ng utak mo. Ang katarungan, walang sinasanto, kaibigan man o kalaban. Kaya lalong lumalala ang kurapsyon sa ating bansa ay dahil sa ganyang uri ng pag-iisip.

    • Exactly the same logic why AbNoy doesn’t at all care if his KKK has committed corruption and gross misconduct. It is all expected, right? And, therefore it is alright? Common, your name Catalasan alone suggests that you must be more intelligent than that!

  13. If the President who will be elected is really serious in cleaning the government he may have to bypass the court and bring justice immediately. A death squad can take care of those corrupt congressmen senators, cabinet members military and police officials and generals and those government officials who keep stealing from the people. I believe the public will not miss these corrupt officials who are just in cahoots with each other.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Kung ang kasama at kaibigan mo ay corrupt, ano ang masasabi mo saiyo? Would you believe that the president is insulated from such corruption. God bless the Philippines.

    • Never happen if you are gonna wait for them to return what they stole.

      Have to take it back and there is the problem, the people seem content to just go from one scandal to another every couple of months like it’s a tele-series.