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Graft and Corruption in the Philippines:

Reaction Paper

Submitted by


Submitted to

Dr. Erasto Sanchez


October 17, 2011

Graft and Corruption in the Philippines: Reaction Paper Introduction According to Forbes Magazine, a world renowned publication in business, corruption in nearly half the world's nations is not getting much better and, indeed, in many countries is intensifying--affecting virtually every aspect of life among peoples on every continent. A survey conducted by an international watchdog group Transparency International (TI) a year ago, revealed that 72 out of 158 nations were classified as "corrupt. Now, it has increased into 74 out of 163 countries, which fell in that same category. A few, most notably India, managed to bootstrap themselves (just barely) out of the truly corrupt group, while others, particularly Iran, dug themselves more firmly into that camp. TI has developed an index from 0 to 10 comprised of surveys of specialists, opinion leaders, business officials and human rights monitors who live, work or travel extensively in each of the countries ranked. The higher the score, the less corrupt the country. Tied for No. 1 this year, with a CPI score of 9.6 are Finland, Iceland and New Zealand. At the bottom, with a score of 1.8 is Haiti. Philippine CPI level A brief look on the Philippine track record based on the surveys conducted by TI from 1995 up to 2010 yielded a not so surprising result. Even though we have changed administration in government several times from the time of Marcos until today, perception as a nation that either promote or passively allow graft and corruption not just in government but in daily life, remains to be indicative that we have not changed. In fact, we have grown worse over the past decade. It is evident by the survey conducted in 1995 which shows that we have a 2.72 CPI score. It increased in 1998 to 3.3, where we leveled off with Ghana, Mexico and Sengal, and raised to our highest level of 3.6, along with Turkey in the following year. After 1999, we have never reached the 3.0 level again. It is so sad to know that each time the government changed, the politicians promised reform, especially regarding graph and corruption, and yet, the perception that we are still corrupt remains. Survey will also tell us that through the years, while we maintain our level in the 2.0s, nations who were in the top 1 of most corrupt or have the lowest level in CPIs have leveled or even surpassed us. Notably are the nations Bangladesh, which was top 1 for several years, and Vietnam which has a lower CPI than us before. Now, they have improved. Do Surveys Reflect What is Happening? Many will argue that surveys are just surveys and do not reflect what is really happening. Some will even tell us that this data is manufactured and will only benefit those who pay for it to be conducted. In contrast, Surveys are scientific and methodical. It follows standard protocol and based on mathematical principles which are an exact science. Hence, if there will be an error, it would be in the manner of collection where human erring and manipulation is a factor. However, we need take surveys or arduous task to prove that there is graft and corruption in our government. We only need to see what is happening in our daily life. Ask the people in the street.

Historical Basis One way or another, we Filipinos have experience at the receiving and sending end of corruption. It does not make a difference whether one is old or young, or rich or poor, male, female or homosexual, catholic or otherwise, government or private, we are susceptible to graft and corruption. Our culture and environment have bred this kind of habit forming attitude. Stemmed from the times of the colonization of our country by the Spaniards where they have instill in our being that we are Indios and they are the elite. Where we should always make good with them in any means possible or else we lose our livelihood and properties. The Japanese and American take over was no different. The Core In a typical Filipino family, the basic structure of a Philippine society, graft and corruption is evident. The fact that we have instituted rewards and punishment for certain goals met or not by the children is in effect graft and corruption in its simplest form. Ideally, children should do what they need to do regardless of any compensation. But I guess this is what my parents have trained me to do that their parents also did to them. Does this mean that our culture breed graph and corruption? In a sense, it does. In connection with this, my parents have taught me magnakaw ka ng maliit o malaki, pagnanakaw pa din tawag dun. Does this mean that when my child receives a Playstation gadget as a gift for Christmas when he gets grades not below 90, I am telling him that in the future, in working in the government, he should work his best or faster when he will be given something of value during Christmas? The topic on graft and corruption is indeed a complicated subject to discuss because it crosses philosophical boundaries of good and evil. We are not the Only One Corruption can take on a host of different forms. It can, and often does, involve the police and judicial systems, including questionable enforcement of business contracts and other commercial litigation. It frequently involves diversion of a percentage of funds from critical projects into the pockets of senior government officials or their families--often in systematic skimming operations. Indeed, the U.S. State Department has labeled Belarus Europe's only remaining outpost of tyranny. Unfortunately, most of the corruption occurs in countries whose populations are least equipped to deal with the consequences--the world's most deprived nations. In Cambodia, where two-thirds of the population earns less than $2 a month and one-third earns less than $1, a "substantial portion" of the $500 million to $600 million in donor aid each year is "lost to unofficial fees, an informal system of patronage, illicit 'facilitation' payments by businesses and individuals," one Transparency official said. Such under-the-counter payments for everything from the simplest municipal services to appointments to many of the nation's highest offices, particularly those where there is the greatest access to illicit profits, are the effective rule of law in most of the nations surveyed--especially in Africa, Central Asia, and Latin America. In general, the most corrupt nations are those with "an extremely weak institutional setting," according to Transparency officials. In Haiti, for instance, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled in the face of an internal uprising and international pressure after he sought to move a number of his political allies into the highest positions within the justice system. However, a corrupt police force is still almost ubiquitous there, helping to cement the country's place alone at the top of the most corrupt list.

The former Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union are grouped near the top of the list of most-corrupt nations. The U.S. State Department reports that "Turkmenistan has laws to combat corruption, but they are ineffective, and corruption is rampant." At the same time, nearby Tajikistan is subsisting largely on a narco economy. Another State Department report noted that "rampant illicit trafficking of Afghan opium and heroin through Tajikistan remains a serious long-term threat to Tajikistan's stability and development, fostering corruption, violent crime, HIV/AIDS and economic distortions." Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, who repeatedly locks horns with the United States, has helped establish his country's presence on the most-corrupt roster by turning the national police force from a once professional body of crime fighters into an institution that is used largely for political issues, according to a Transparency official. The result is a collapse of control mechanisms that is a broad feature of administrations in many of the nations on the most-corrupt list. Moreover, in Venezuela, substantial income from the nation's vast oil wealth goes directly into the pocket of the chief executive according to TI. Among the least corrupt nations, the United States has slipped to No. 20 this year from No. 17 last year, while France, Belgium, Ireland and Japan leap-frogged over the U.S. in the rankings. The top 10--the world's least corrupt countries--has remained virtually unchanged with Finland, Iceland and New Zealand tied for the lead, followed closely by Denmark, Singapore and Sweden. Furthermore, there does seem to have been some improvement in anticorruption mechanisms in many nations, particularly the more developed countries. In the past year, such nations as Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Australia have ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Ironically, Japan, the 17th least corrupt country in the world, and South Korea, the 42nd least corrupt, have failed to ratify the U.N. document. There is some skepticism over the recent ratification of the U.N. convention by Bangladesh, the world's eighth most corrupt country, though there is some hope that the recent seizure of power by a military junta may help the country turn the corner on corruption there. Some 40 business executives and public officials were seized in an anti-corruption push, while property ranging from a Hummer to three golden pheasant and some pet peacocks were seized in raids there, according to The New York Times. One Transparency official observed that some countries like Japan have failed to ratify the convention because "that means you have sorted out your whole legal system by which you can enact all provisions of the convention," while others with more questionable records in stamping out corruption "perceive [the convention] more as a standard of [future] achievement." Conclusion Graft and corruption not only crosses philosophical boundaries but across nations and socio cultural dimensions. It can also be viewed as pandemic, where it infects most nations around the world.