For a corruption-free society


WELL before taking charge of the nation, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded his Cabinet of a supreme requirement: his administration would not be tainted with corruption.

The President’s determination has given most Filipinos a great measure of hope, as did the other daunting task he has taken up as priority—bringing an end to the drug menace that has been destroying the lives of many people and the family as a unit. His unorthodox method for freeing society from the clutches of the drug lords is, of course, not acceptable to many, particularly the armchair moralistas and human right activists; but he seems to have gained the sympathy of the vast majority of the common tao. Ask any taxi driver, or any man on the street, and you’d have a better understanding of the generally positive mood.

On the corruption front, the President has specifically cited the Bureau of Internal Revenue as one known to be corrupt and the Bureau of Customs where, he said, employees earn huge amount of bribes, which make their salaries look more like an allowance. Thus, soon after coming to office, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has moved to introduce what he calls “freedom of information” about past, as well as present, transactions for everyone to see their progress.

Such novel initiatives are admirable as they could improve the operating efficiency of the departments. However, it may not really eradicate corruption. Corruption thrives even in efficient bureaucracies, because it is rooted in greed, to which most people are vulnerable. Therefore, it calls for a lot more than the initiative that the finance secretary has shown. We need a well thought-out, long lasting society-wide—not just bureaucracy-wide—program that will combine both punitive actions and an educational program for reforming the general mindset across the society, particularly in the corporate world—the main bribe giver—and also in the media. We cannot hope for a clean government if all other segments of society remain corrupt.

In every instance of bribery, there is a giver and a taker. Both are equally guilty of the crime; therefore, both must be brought to justice in a fair and square manner. For that, we need a good anti-corruption ordinance that will clearly define the rules for investigation and trial.

The law must also define the distinction between a bribe and a gift. When a wealthy man offers his executive jet for the personal travel of a government official, a lawmaker, aA politician, or their families, will it be considered a no-strings-attached favor or a bribe disguised as generosity?

In court trials, the common law treats a person innocent until proven guilty; but this should not be the guiding principle in corruption cases. Rather than the prosecution—in this case, the state—proving the accused guilty, the accused must bear the burden of proving innocence. The reason for it is simple: All bribes exchange hands in secrecy. There is no witness or paper trail to pin the suspect down. Therefore, anyone in possession of wealth or leading a lifestyle beyond the means of legitimate income should be brought to court to explain it.

When found guilty, the bribe-giver must face the consequences of his action – the contract or license obtained from the government must be revoked and the corrupt must be dismissed from his employment. The bribe-taker, too, must go to jail, with everything that could not be justified as part of legitimate earnings confiscated by the state.


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  1. talk to any businessman. they abhor corruption especially in the BIR and BOC. but these businessmen are hypocrites coz they would rather bribe the BIR examiner just to get off the tax assessment. if they really are sincere they would fight the tax assessment if they think they are correct and the BIR examiner wrong. but they do not want to do that so they just compromise and pay the bribe. hypocrite coz they shout out loud against corruption but they themselves encourage corruption

  2. Driggs Matabaran on

    Extraordinary circumstances and problems needs extraordinary solutions. That is what PDU30 did. Latest developments just exposed the real condition of the drug problem in the country which the previous national administrations neglected, if not intentionally hidden from the public, considering the narco list prepared in 2008 was only known because a President concerned of the welfare of ordinary citizens divulged it. President Duterte walk the talk on his freedom of information directive. This would be a great help to address corruption also. Our country will not improve with the desire and effort of its leader/s alone. It needs collective dreams and aspirations of its people. Does majority of Filipinos willing to go and help in whatever way to achieve peace, progress and prosperity? This is for all of us to decide and take a step towards achieving it…

  3. Peter Gonzales on

    Shifting the burden of proof in corruption cases on the defendant is one effective instrument in bringing down corruption and it would bring shivers to a corrupt official of the government. I totally agree that acts of corruption disguised as a gift or act of generosity and a harsh punishment must be defined to discourage both the giver and the taker. However, I have one question. Given the state and membership of the congress can it come up with laws that would tighten the nuts and bolts of the present system. Can senators like Pacquiao who knows nothing or Hontiveros who are tied to the yellow cult and Dilemma and Quimbo who are tied to corruption and political opportunism?

    • jaime dela Cruz on

      NOPE. That is the sad answer to your question. Corruption is our way of life. It is present in our culture and daily life. Never mind the senators making laws. The question is, “are we all willing to change our way of life?”. Will we stop asking the drivers of public vehicles to stop anywhere we want to alight their vehicles? Are we willing to wait in long lines without giving the “secu” incentives to push us ahead. Are willing to wait the prescribed date on permit issuance or signatures by the LGU official or regulating bodies, without bringing them “regalo”?. These are just the garden variety of corruption in our society. Up and until we stop this culture, our people will always practice bribery even with the threat of jail.