SWS: 52 percent of firms were asked for bribes-A A +A
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
CEBU CITY - More than half of enterprises surveyed in Cebu said they were asked for bribes in exchange for permits and other government transactions in 2013, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported.
Fifty-two percent of the respondents in Cebu, the highest among seven communities surveyed, said their enterprises had been asked for any of seven bribes enumerated in the SWS survey.
SWS president Dr. Mahar K. Mangahas presented the survey results on Tuesday during the National Competitiveness Council’s road show in Cebu.
The SWS survey team had asked respondents whether they had been asked for bribes during any of these seven transactions: getting local government permits or licenses, assessment or payment of income taxes, getting national government permits or licenses, complying with import regulations including payment of import duties, supplying government with goods or services, collecting receivables from government, and availing themselves of government incentives.
Next to Cebu was the National Capital Region, where 48 percent said they, too, had been asked for bribes. Davao placed third with 46 percent, followed by Angeles (41 percent), Cagayan de Oro (40 percent), Iloilo (38 percent) and Cavite-Laguna-Batangas (31 percent).
In 2012, NCR had the most number of respondents who said they had been asked for a bribe (58 percent). Cebu, with 56 percent, had the second highest figure.
Mangahas encouraged business owners and other victims of bribery and other forms of corruption in the government to “blow the whistle.”
While Cebu had the most number of respondents who said they had been asked for bribes, it also had the least number who reported these cases to any agency or anti-corruption group.
The same survey showed that only two percent of the respondents said they had reported the bribe solicitations.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Philip Tan said that corruption in government offices should not be blamed on government officials alone, but also on private individuals who allow corrupt practices to happen.
“Corruption is a two-way street,” Tan said.
In the seven areas of bribery listed, Cebu consistently topped or placed second or third, except for “assessment and payment of income taxes.” Its respondents gave the fifth highest figure in that area.
Twenty-four percent of Cebu’s respondents said they had been asked for bribes while “getting national permits and licenses.” Both Cebu and NCR topped the list here.
Twenty percent of respondents from Cebu had also told the survey team they were solicited to give bribes while trying to comply with import regulations. Again, the NCR had the same figure (20 percent) and shared the top spot.
Cebu (9 percent) also ranked first in terms of being asked for bribes while enterprises tried to avail themselves of government incentives. It shared this spot with Cagayan de Oro.
In a statement, Dr. Mangahas said there was no improvement in the level of corruption in the private sector, at least according to their survey.
“Like the year before, the 2013 survey saw flatness in corruption as well as in honest business practices in the private sector over time. These are disappointing contrasts to the clear improvements in the public sector,” he said.
SWS conducted the survey in Metro Cebu from July 31 to Aug. 29, 2913. The total sample was 100, with 33 coming from large enterprises and 67 representing small and medium enterprises.
The margin of error was plus/minus 10 percent.
The 2012 figure on public sector corruption was the record lowest in 11 surveys since 2000.
The 2013 figure was the second-lowest for that period.
Respondents from Angeles in Pampanga were the most vigilant in terms of reporting bribe solicitations. At least 39 percent of them told the SWS that they had reported those instances when their companies had been asked for bribes.
Mangahas said Cebu reported the lowest percentage in 2013, with only two percent reporting bribery cases to any government agency or private anti-corruption group.
Mary Gretchen Chaves of the University of the Philippines in Cebu said one possible reason for the business owners’ silence on government corruption could be that they, too, are doing the same practices.
“It’s like a two-pointed sword, that if a person reports, it’s like saying that he will also be beheaded for his own faults,” Chavez said.
Most respondents (63 percent) said they did not report the bribe solicitations because “nothing would be done anyway.”
Others said they “cannot prove anything” (53 percent); they were “afraid of reprisal” (47 percent); it was “too small a thing to bother” with (46 percent); they “will spend much,” “do not know what/whom to report,” and “it’s a standard practice not to report” (43 percent); and they “don’t want to betray anyone” (27 percent).
Twenty-one percent of the respondents said “it’s embarrassing”, so they didn’t report the bribe solicitations.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2014.