THE Philippines made zero progress in its campaign to reduce corruption in 2015 as the country not only remained on the list of countries with serious corruption problems, but its ranking even went down by 10 notches, according to Transparency International (TI).
From its 85th ranking in 2014, the Philippines slid to 95th with a score of 35 out of 100 (very clean) in the Corruption Perception Index 2015. The country’s score in 2014 was 38.
Last year’s score was even lower than in 2013 when the Philippines notched a grade of 36. In 2012, the country got an even lower score — 34.
The least corrupt country was Denmark, which scored 91. It was followed by Finland, 90; Sweden, 89; New Zealand, 88; The Netherlands, 87; Norway, 87; Switzerland, 86, Singapore, 85; Canada, 83; and Germany, Luxembourg and United Kingdom, which each had a score of 81.
North Korea and Somalia shared the bottom with both countries scoring 8.
The Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide.
“Public sector corruption isn‘t simply about taxpayer money going missing. Broken institutions and corrupt officials fuel inequality and exploitation– keeping wealth in the hands of an elite few and trapping many more in poverty,” TI noted in its report.
The group said more than six billion people live in a country with a serious corruption problem.
It added that the Asia Pacific region also made zero progress in the fight against corruption.
“If there was one common challenge to unite the Asia Pacific region, it would be corruption. From campaign pledges to media coverage to civil society forums, corruption dominates discussion. Yet despite all this talk, there’s little sign of action. Between Australia’s slipping scores and North Korea’s predictably disastrous performance, this year’s index shows no significant improvement,” the group said.
It also noted though that “public desire for change is huge,” citing that governments came to power on anti-corruption platforms in India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
The group, however, said many countries failed to deliver on their promises to curb corruption, citing the case of Malaysia whose leader is under investigation for an alleged $700 million that was deposited in his bank account.
“In India and Sri Lanka, leaders are falling short of their bold promises, while governments in Bangladesh and Cambodia are exacerbating corruption by clamping down on civil society. In Afghanistan and Pakistan a failure to tackle corruption is feeding ongoing vicious conflicts, while China’s prosecutorial approach isn’t bringing sustainable remedy to the menace. This inability to tackle root causes holds true across the region– witness, for example, Australia’s dwindling score in recent years,” IT said.
“This year’s poor results demand that leaders revisit the genuineness of their efforts and propel the region beyond stagnation. They must fulfill promises, and ensure efforts aren’t undermined in practice. Anti-corruption commissions are a prime example here: While their creation across the region is commendable, ongoing political interference and inadequate resources has meant many are unable to fulfill their mandate. This has to be addressed,” the group added.
The Transparency International report stresses the need for government to establish institutional reforms in order to fight corruption, political analyst Ramon Casiple said.
Casiple added that the report showed that the Philippines’ anti-corruption efforts is failing. “There was no institutional reform established,” he told The Manila Times.
These institutional reforms, he said, should include “removal of syndicates in government agencies,” strengthening of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, and “simplified transactions,” among others.
Freedom of Information (FOI) should also have been among these reforms, according to Casiple.
A proposed FOI measure, which has long been pending in Congress, aims to enable citizens access to government information and mandates government agencies and officials to disclose all information on official acts, transactions or decisions.
The group said even the world’s “up and coming economies” are struggling to shake off corruption, citing massive scandals in Brazil and Malaysia as cause for concern.
Brazil showed the biggest decline in its ranking, slumping seven notches to 76th position over a kickback scandal engulfing state oil giant Petrobras.
On the other side of the globe, graft allegations surrounding Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also laid bare corruption dogging the Asian state, it noted.
Overall, two-thirds of the countries measured by TI scored below the 50-point mark out of a top score of 100.
Emerging giants, in particular, showed a worrisome picture in the index widely used as a gauge of the level of corruption by governments, legal systems, political parties and bureaucracies.
“All the BRICS are challenged, the countries that are the really up and coming in the world economy, they all score below 50 in our index,” Robin Hodess, TI group director for research, told Agence France-Presse, referring to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
South Africa took 61st place with 44 points. Brazil and India were tied at 76th place, with scores of just 38, while China fared slightly worse, at 83th place with 37 points. Russia only came in at 119th position, managing just 29 points.
Transparency International urged the public to prod their governments to carry out much needed reforms to end the scourge of corruption.
“Overall we think it’s very important that not only the government comes in with the reforms we are looking for — the policy changes, and enforcing them, but that these countries pay attention to people, to the efforts of people on the ground,” Hodess said.
She cited the example of Guatemala, where protests pushed President Otto Perez to stand down last year over graft allegations.
“The people can really make a big difference in drawing attention of elites to corruption issues, and we think in the long term it would make a big impact if people are part of the solution to corruption,” Hodess said.
WITH REINA TOLENTINO AND AFP