Worse than ours

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Friday, January 10, 2014


I READ over social media: “Philippines is known to be the ONLY Catholic nation in Asia. But, how come it’s the MOST corrupt country in Asia?”
This is factually wrong. Filipinos do have a habit of self-flagellation, many fail to see the gold among the dross, or ignore the silver linings.
The Philippines is not lily-white. The Daang Matuwid is still so far off to match the rankings of Denmark, New Zealand and Finland, considered the least-corrupt countries worldwide.

Yet despite the pork barrel scams and all the worms coming out of the government woodwork in the country, the Philippines is NOT the most corrupt in Southeast Asia. Other ASEAN countries have it worse.

For one thing, Southeast Asia is home to one of the most corrupt regions in the world. Cambodia has been ranked Southeast Asia’s most corrupt country, overtaking Laos and Burma on Transparency International’s recently published corruption index 2013.

In fact, among the top ASEAN-5 growth machines the Philippines and Indonesia score just 34 and 32, says Inside Investor (Investvine), a global research and consulting company founded in 2011 with offices in Hong Kong, Manila, Dubai, and San Francisco.

The Investvine index was based on surveys of perceived corruption by investors and others in the private sector concerning the public sector and is undertaken each year by a partnership of seven international institutions, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

In the case of the Thais, they are more forgiving. A survey among around 2,100 people all over Thailand conducted from July 1 to 5 by Abac Poll Research Center found that 65 per cent of respondents accept corruption as long as they also benefited from such activity.

In any case, the Philippines and Thailand ranked sixth and seventh in the Investvine scale.

I tried to Google the most corrupt provinces in the Philippines but failed to come up with studies on this concern. So far, the best that I could come up was a National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) 2004 study of The Best and Worst Provinces in the Philippines that dealt with good governance.

Good governance has become a serious concern of both the public and the private sector. More than a decade since the implementation of the Local Government Code, local government leaders have had their excellent chances to improve the situation in their respective areas.

The NSCB noted that what cannot be measured, cannot be managed. Therefore, to be able to assess our progress in the elimination of graft and corruption, the NSCB has to develop a measure of good governance. But

I have to do more research on the literature.
Perhaps one indication of improved ranking should be to see how the courts deal with corruption cases. Alas, in the last two minutes of the Aquino administration, we have yet to see corruption cases prosper in our courts.

Many witnesses have come out to identify big-time suspects on crimes of plunder. Yet those politicians fingered still remain in their posts. The only one booted out was former Chief Justice Renato S. Corona.

What we have are press statements, political propaganda if you will, that suspiciously sounds like preparation for the 2016 national elections.
So can the Philippines achieve a high ranking by 2016? Hope springs eternal but I’m not holding my breath.*

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 10, 2014.

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