Are we really less corrupt now?

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AMID the flood of negative stories in media these days, the bit of good news came a few days ago from the Governance World Indicators (WGI) of the World Bank in whose survey showed that the Philippines is perceived to be less corrupt than the previous year as it improved its ranking among 200 countries.

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Earlier, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) showed that the Philippines’ ranking among 175 countries had significantly improved at 85th place from 94th in 2013 and 105th in 2012.

Why are these global survey ratings important to the Philippines? It is important to policy-makers because credit rating agencies use these data in evaluating the country’s credit worthiness.

Improved rankings should mean better chances of securing better terms for loans. More loans means the government can implement more projects.

To us ordinary mortals, we don’t really feel the importance of these surveys because we don’t know how these can ease our crumbling stomach. We can only hope that the loans are used to build more roads and bridges, and do not end up into the pockets of corrupt politicians and contractors.

The CPI’s latest survey showed the Philippines’ percentile ranking in the “control of corruption” increasing to 43.5 percent in 2013 from 33.5 percent in 2012.

These pieces of good news certainly create positive impact on how the Philippines is viewed from abroad, and even on Filipinos here who get to read, hear or watch most of the news about allegations of corruption and various crimes.

In 2007, expatriate businessmen in Asia rated the Philippines as the most corrupt country in Asia with a 9.4 score in a survey by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), in which a score of zero is the least corrupt and 10 is the most corrupt.

Singapore got the highest ranking as the least corrupt of the 13 economies surveyed, followed by Hong Kong and Japan.

The 2007 survey said the Philippines earned the “worst corrupt” perception because “people are just growing tired of the inaction and insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption.”

This observation seven years ago remains relevant today, but in a lesser magnitude.

In the country’s long history in the battle against corruption, we have in the recent past seen a former president, three senators and a number of military generals sent to jail to answer serious charges of corruption, and more high-ranking politicians and government executives are expected to follow suit once the Office of the Ombudsman could build cases strong enough to place them behind bars.

It is strange that corruption has always been on top of every politicians reform agenda presented to the electorate during the campaign season, but in the same campaign season, we see these same politicians engaged in vote buying and all sorts of deception to win votes. Once elected, the first agenda is recouping their campaign expenditures. And that’s a vicious cycle that goes on and on.

According to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, the recent improved ranking of the Philippines in the global anti-corruption surveys show international recognition of the Aquino administration’s good-governance agenda which is vital in gaining confidence.

The country badly needs that confidence to attract more investors to bring in more money that can create more jobs for Filipinos.

Hopefully, these new jobs could help bring back the skillful and talented Filipinos who had to live far away from their families because they have found the so-called greener pastures abroad.

To me as an ordinary commuter, I could only hope and pray that I would see the impact of these positive ratings in this lifetime with better roads where traffic flows smoothly fast and efficient trains that don’t run like caterpillars and get stuck in the middle of its tracks.

So, are we really less corrupt now?

Well, we have been reading or hearing from the media more accusations of corruption these days but I believe that what matters more are the actions taken about these allegations.

As I mentioned earlier, it is only in recent history that we have seen former presidents, senators and military generals sent to jail to answer corruption charges, and face forfeiture proceedings.

It may take more than this lifetime to send just maybe 10 percent of the crooks in government, but at least we see the wheels of justice grinding albeit quite slowly.

So, are we less corrupt now? It probably is a situation where the half-full/half-empty glass perception applies. It really depends on how you view it, and on which side of the political fence you stand.

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14 Comments

  1. Larry Ebersole on

    The government for the first time had lent money to the world bank, never mind if that money was sequestered from big projects that could have given convenience or job to a lot of pinoys what is seen is that the government for the first time had excess money so it is right to say there is less stealing there. however, on the other hand, what they have lent can already be considered stolen from the people, because funds for project to benefit the people had been diverted, so is this less corruption, I do not think so because the sequestered project was later on given to a choice contractor for a hefty kickback and the project higher cost charged (again)to the public

  2. are we really less corrupt now? the answer is a big no. MORE CORRUPT YES! just look at the bir, they only issued 2% receipt for tax penalty and pocketed 98% of the money they collected. greedy, is it?

  3. I am a 74 year old man and I have a 2 cents worth of an idea on how to possibly prevent, diminish and or eliminate graft and corruption in government. But those who are willing to
    do this idea must be strong willed and dedicated and God fearing as well.
    The idea is very simple and direct to the point. Why not disallow or prohibit candidates with
    outstanding and unresolved allegations on offensess of hidden wealth and graft and corruption to file thie candidacy for public office in particular file their candidacy for president of the Republic of the Philippines. We even believe that this idea can be passed into law by
    Congress.

  4. Perception is reality. It appears that people do not see the government less corrupt because reports after reports of unbridled greed in government leaders reverberate day in and day out. Any attempt by leaders of getting rid of corrupt leaders would be met with cynicism because to them it is, a Kabuki dance, a smoke and mirror show. This blasé attitude of people towards corruption is not only due to government leaders plundering tax money with impunity but the whole country tacitly participate in it. People know that every time a police pulls a driver down for a traffic violation, the ticket is settled right in plain view. The ritual goes this way; the driver slips perhaps fifty pesos in his driver’s license jacket, hands it to the police. He takes the money and they go in their merry way. Or take for instance renewing a license, business or otherwise. I would venture to say, that if it would take three signatures to have your license renewed, you would have to grease three people. I remember one speech former president Marcos gave. He indicted the business community of cheating the government on their corporate taxes. He alleged that companies have two books, one for tax purposes and the other for their board of directors. The real book is the one prepared for their board and the fake one is submitted to the BIR. Most likely, this is still the prevailing practice. I would venture to say that most Filipinos do not pay their taxes and those that do submit a less than honest tax return. Corruption is endemic in our culture. What riles up a lot of observers regarding the Philippine situation is that corruption stands side by side with overt religiosity of its people. Furthermore, expecting for a knight in shining armor to make everything right continues to be the solution. People do not become a cheat overnight. They learn this behavior early on. I hate saying it but we as a people have been socialized to lie and to cheat. Sadly, we use God to sanction it

  5. may be less corrupt; BUT still corrupt; let’s not gloat over this improved standing. The culture of corruption, stemming from families, treating politics as business opportunities, is the root of all the corruption. Non-implementation of laws, also breeds corruption, even on small-scale, from traffic aides, to barangay councils. Seeing also that their leaders are corrupt, makes Filipinos easy prey to corruption; the corruptors or the corrupted.

  6. Vicente Penetrante on

    CPI said we we are improving. Our President agree that we are really less corrupt now, citing three prominent Senators in jail and under trial.
    “Now there is no underspending, corruption becomes very tempting;
    Don’t worry I trust my my underlings, only opposition is ‘scam’ing.
    We can do more overspending to ensure we will keep on winning,
    The big budget is very tempting, blame the opposition for ‘scam’ing.”

  7. aimee inocente on

    Corruption thrives in many forms, particularly in government cabinet departments where this scourge can be in the form of using one’s position not to enrich oneself but to avail of the perks and privileges of the position to globe-trotting, in guise of promoting the country as a good destination point, when the actual motive is to escape the prying eyes in the Philippines of an illicit affair that is increasingly being noticed in local circles. This situation cannot be measured in surveys.

    Corruption can also take place when the situation is tolerated by a higher official in that agency that is supposed to be at the forefront of the campaign to attract more foreign investments to the Philippines and more exports to the outside world. The identity of that agency is obvious.

  8. chthonic monster on

    “less corrupt”? it’s a joke right? less as in slightly corrupt? as in slightly pregnant? damn, non such!

  9. You can carry on dreaming about traffic flowing freely in this country as so much needs to be done & look at the stupid things these manila mayors bring in, or the mmda bring in, its all designed to make things worse. They dont have a clue how to make it better, not a clue.
    They should start with driving tests & very strict driving tests. Law enforcement of rules & i mean every rule. For instance have you noticed vehicles driving with lights not working, fine them each & every time, with using different coloured lights, ive seen a vehicle with a red headlight, yes a red headlight & when you mention it to them they just laugh as they think its funny as do most filipinos. Its stupidity like that what is also holding the filipino back. Emissions clamp down on every single polluter, fine them, the country will become rich from the fines as every single road user in this country commits offence after offence every single time they drive their cars or motorcycles.

  10. The down side of taking these loans is they incur interest which eventually have to be paid. When you live in a house as most of us do we have a budget & we have to live within that budget, fail to do so & you pay the consequences. Its exactly the same with government. Only its on a much bigger scale & it doesnt just affect 1 family it affects every single person in the country. If all this stolen money hadnt been stolen but had been used for its intended purposes you wouldnt need to borrow money as the country would be much better off than it is now. Live within your means makes your country better.

  11. This a country where politics muddles everything for political ends to deprive people the real picture, all for self interest. It doesn’t matter how it affects the majority of people They trumpet their claim of being Catholics but lie through their teeth. Some in the media doesn’t help either but make it worse instead of delivering a credible and honest news or analysis/opinion. One cannot help but suspect that there are paid people to do this squid tactic in the media. Their style is very discernible for discriminating readers, but sorry to thier victims. This independent source belie the claim that the Philippine is NOTmore corrupt.

  12. Good people, good associates, trust in God and good governance hand in hand to provide good service and defeat corrupt people. When people vote good people, it give them a good chance to alleviate their plight but choosing the wrong one will prolong the agony or no changed at all but more worsen their living condition. Now at least Aquino did some of his homework well but not yet perfect, we need another Person who had clear conscience and God fearing to lead this nation back to where it were before. Corruption kills the economy, destroy people’s life and worst it spur deception in the community.