Corruption persists: Why wouldn’t it?

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Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer for 2013 confirms what most informed Filipinos have concluded after three years under President Aquino’s administration: Corruption in this country persists and has increased.

Based on 1,000 respondents in the Philippines, the organization’s survey showed that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) believed that corruption has remained the same or increased.

The findings are damning for the Aquino administration considering the fact that about 60 percent of Filipinos—according to a private survey I was a given a copy of –rely for their information on the country’s two major broadcast networks and two broadsheets. These media outfits however have been so sympathetic to this administration even to the point of not running reports of corruption, or at least burying them.

A more independent press, I would surmise, would put the percent of Filipinos claiming a decrease in corruption in single-digit percentages.


Why would the level of corruption fall under Aquino, when much of this agenda has been undertaken solely in the realm of rhetoric?

Leadership by example? Ask any government official—as I had asked many of them when the issue broke out—what they think about the P10 million Porsche he got, or received, as his Christmas gift in 2010 and they’d just shake their heads.

Source: Transparency International’s “Global Corruption Barometer, 2013”

Source: Transparency International’s “Global Corruption Barometer, 2013”

Because of his control of media, Aquino felt no pressure to publicly disclose the car’s deeds of sale, when he purportedly bought it and allegedly sold it. Why couldn’t he if he really bought it from his own funds? Or was it – and quite obviously it was—a gift from some crony?

While Aquino managed to bury that issue when he “sold” his car, the message sent down the bureaucracy by the Porsche issue: “You can”, but we won’t defend you if you get caught.

Leadership by example? “I’ll believe he’s really honest the day his clan actually turns over Hacienda Luisita to its farmers as the Supreme Court had ordered, and leave their mansions there,” one government official said.

There are two main government agencies whose main task is to combat corruption. The first is the Ombudsman, which investigates cases of corruption and files the charges. The second is the Sandiganbayan, which hears and decides on the case, which really make up the fangs of an anti-corruption drive.

It was during President Arroyo’s administration that the Ombudsman was first given major weapons to combat corruption, when its budget was increased drastically. I would know since as Presidential Chief of Staff then, I worked with former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo to work on the budget department and Congress’ agreements to increase its appropriations. The biggest increase in the Ombudsman’s budget was in 2009, when its financial resources were expanded 37 percent to P1.3 billion.

Despite all of Aquino’s kung-walang-corrupt-walang-mahirap rhetoric, the Ombudsman’ budget had decreased to P1 billion by 2011, and rose only in 2012 to revert to its 2009 level. Apparently realizing that people were seeing through his rhetoric, or perhaps due to the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ nagging, Aquino has increased the agency’s budget to P1.7 billion this year.

We’ll have to see however if that increase would help reduce corruption at this stage of his administration, a lame-duck one when his officials will be scrambling to make their time in government profitable for them.

Worse off though is the Sandiganbayan, whose budget has remained in the P330 million average after two years under Aquino, although this was increased to P380 million for this year.

There are three obvious indications that the level of corruption hasn’t changed and may even have gone worse under Aquino.

First, jueteng, the illegal numbers game has flourished, with nearly every operator claiming – falsely or accurately – that he is merely running the Small Town Lottery authorized by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. Jueteng collectors now are even ‘modernized’, using the cheap Chinese-made motorcycles to collect bets in remote barangays and cellphones to be in close touch with bettors.

Who are responsible for the proliferation of the numbers game? It cannot operate without the support of both local governments and the police.

Pay-offs that allow it to operate undisturbed in all administrations go up to the top officials of the Philippine National Police, to its supervising body the National Police Commission, and to the big bosses at the Interior and Local Government Department – and perhaps even to the Office of the President. Media, very surprisingly or not, has left the jueteng issue below people’s radar.

We were jolted into realizing that jueteng had become a high-stakes enterprise when police colonel Hansel Marantan led a group that ambushed in January two cars, killing 13, including another police colonel. Investigation had indicated that it was a rubout by one group representing one jueteng syndicate against another. Colonel Marantan had claimed that the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, had approved his operation.

A second indication of worsening corruption is the unabated smuggling under the noses of the Bureau of Customs. After much brouhaha over 5,000 container vans disappearing, the smuggling of agricultural products hitting our farmers, and the massive shipments of illegal drugs, Bureau of Customs chief Ruffy Biazon remains at his post. Why is Aquino standing by Biazon?

A third indication of worsening corruption is the paucity of cases filed by the Ombudsman against officials in local governments, where the bulk of graft actually occur.

I was told that this was due to the fact that regional offices of the Ombudsman have been largely neglected, with many of its investigators who could have been deployed there still ransacking old government records to find proof of graft by former President Arroyo.

After three years of leaving no stone unturned, the one case keeping her detained is one in which the sole witness would have been in jail for his involvement in the Mindanao massacre, if not for his false testimony against Arroyo.

The expose of this paper’s emeritus chairman, Dr. Dante Ang, of an extortion attempt for an MRT contract could be just the tip of corruption cases, and attempts at such under this administration. It is a breakthrough that should encourage principled people in Aquino’s government to reveal to media how crooked the “Tuwid na Daan” really is.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
www.rigobertotiglao.com and www.trigger.ph

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11 Comments

  1. yes i agree with the writer that corruption persist even with PNOY at the helm in the govt. But at least we will have hope because he is a President who talks about curbing wrongdoings in govt. I may only suggest to PNOY if by chance he may read this comment that he also put equal attention to curbing corruption in local govts.(LGUs). One example of grand corruption in the LGU that i wish to bring out in the open is this:The Municipality of Mariveles, Bataan purchased thru loan from LBP Two (2) units of Isuzu 6 wheeler compactor garbage truck at a price of P25.9 million.. Parang presyo na to ng eroplano..Isn’t this kind of anomaly be investigated by concerned agencies ASAP??? Kasi as long as corrupt officials remain unpunished, bale wala ang Tuwid na Daan na to ng ating Presidente..Dapat mawala ang culture of impunity na matagal ng umiiral sa lipunan..Do we really have a sincere action against corruption? Let’s try investigating the purchase of the two overpriced garbage trucks in Mariveles..Baluktot po ang daan sa Mariveles, SOS please..Tnx..

  2. What else is new. Visit ombudsman website, you will notice that even deped and ched are no. 5 and 6 in the list for 2012 of having the most cases of corruption. I thought educational institution is the last “bastion” of honesty but the ombudsman list says otherwise.

  3. tuwad na daan is the right word.
    Mr P-Noy is protecting his KKK.
    His appointees have pending cases—graft / corrupt –name them so many
    He does not know or experience how poor people suffers.
    He knows very well that pork barrel is the root cause of corruption yet done nothing.
    Custom commissioner has no power to enforce the law & catch the big-fish.

  4. miriamquiamco on

    Good article as usual. How could a democracy like the Philippines put up with BS Aquino’s disrespect for the law? I know many so called Third World countries have politicized judicial systems, but in this age of globalization and the 21st century, Ex-president GMA should avail of her rights as a citizen and make an appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Committee her unjust imprisonment. This is clearly a human rights violation. Are we a signatory to the various U.N. conventions on Human Rights? If so, this vindictive government could be held accountable for its actions. . .

    • jayrom alarcio on

      i agree with you… is there something we could do to stop this administration….?

    • LOL! is there something we can do to stop this?????? My god! yeah! vote these crooks out of office! nobody can stop them but YOU!!!! Keep burying your head in the sand and pretent it’s not there and you will stay blissfully a cheap, poor 3rd World Country! Have you ever heard of people rebelling against such things or are you just too plain lazy to do something about it!!! I changed my mind about retiring there, I’ll retire in Costa Rica instead, no BS like in the Philippines!

  5. Voice from the Wilderness on

    These reports of corruption under this present inconsequential Regime will never see the light because the institutions of the government tasked by the constitution to institute check and balance have been effectively bastardized by the present popular :kuno: leadership. The only hope that this inept leadership can be made accountable is if a a real opposition president will be elected in 2016 and the same drive for cleansing will be made like what it did with the previous administration.

  6. Transparency International’s findings of even rising corruption in BS Aquino’s administration is damning, laying to waste his much advertised “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap’ mantra. It should shame him into admitting that he is a big time failure, assuming he’s still got some sense of shame remaining.

    But then again, BS Aquino’s still got an ace up his sleeve.The next SWS and Pulse Asia survey “results” will be enough to counter Transparency International’s findings. Wanna bet?

  7. the only way to solve corruption as we already know and been in this problem for decades is to change our corrupt culture. Many of us are dishonest. Just look at the local police, traffic enforcers, then how much more the big ones. It also needs to be demanded by the people, like whats happening in the people power in Brazil right now. the Masses are demanding to stop corruption and improve basic and social serivces. and with the proliferation of casinos in the Philippines, it will only make matters worst as far as corruption and other crimes. in short Pnoy or any other leader cannot do it alone, it needs our participation and team work.

    • Only a poor nation will further corruption! Make a nation strong and financially healthy and you will eliminate corruption, no need for it then, everyone will be able to make a decent living!

  8. This Aquino administration is existing on propaganda. The Filipino people are used and abused, yet nothing is being done. Mr. Tiglao’s narrative is only several of the many crooked ways the present leadership is doing, yet according to SWS and Pulse Asia everything is rosy with BS Aquino sitting in Malakanyang. Time for the people to take action before everything is lost to Aquino oligarchs.