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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cebu LGUs ‘lack sincerity’

CORRUPTION in government offices is still prevalent, and the “sincerity to fight it” is lacking in the local governments of Metro Cebu, a survey has found.

Results of the 2016 Survey of Enterprises on Corruption of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) have shown that the net sincerity rating of local government units in Metro Cebu is in negative territory, or -1, the poorest performing area surveyed. However, the survey took note that this rating is classified “neutral.”

LGUs in National Capital Region (NCR) scored zero in their net sincerity rating in fighting corruption (neutral), Cagayan de Oro +9 (neutral), Calabarzon +10 (moderate), Iloilo +30 (good), Angeles +32 (good), and Davao which scored the highest sincerity rating got +68 (very good).

Generally, the SWS survey concluded that corruption in the later part of the Aquino administration in 2016 worsened, at 63 percent, from last year’s 56 percent, with respondents saying they “see a lot” of corruption in government and 35 percent admitting they have personal knowledge of corrupt transactions with government.

Bribery, in particular, is second highest in Metro Cebu, after NCR. More than half or 57 percent of the respondents say they experienced being asked for bribes during the assessment or payment of income taxes, getting local or national government permits and licenses, complying with import regulations, supplying government with goods and services, collecting receivables from government, and in the availing of government incentives.

End of Aquino’s term

The survey was conducted between February and May this year. It was participated in by 950 small, medium, and large enterprises, 100 of which are in Cebu.

“The efforts against corruption started very well (during the Aquino administration), and was maintained up to 2015, but there was backsliding in 2016,” the survey results read, as presented by SWS vice president Linda Luz Guerrero to local stakeholders yesterday at Hotel Elizabeth in Cebu City.

If there is one government agency that has been consistently ranked “very badly,” it is the Bureau of Customs, which earned -68 in its net sincerity ratings, even worse than its last year’s performance where it got a -55 grade.

In an attempt to explain corruption allegations in the BOC, Port of Cebu Deputy Collector Wivina Pumatong said this might be attributed to customs brokers who overcharge. The official added that she is hopeful that with the implementation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) before the year ends, there would be less corruption in the BOC.

In the next two years, dubbed the transition period, BOC through the CMTA, will provide a paperless process and less human intervention, which means less opportunities for corruption, Pumatong said.

Likewise, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) received a -47 or “bad” rating, while “poor” remarks were given to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the House of Representatives.

Top performers

There were 34 agencies identified in the survey and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) emerged as the top performer, having received a “very good” net sincerity rating in fighting corruption.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), Office of the President, Department of Health (DOH), Civil Service Commission (CSC), Department of Education (DepEd), Social Security System (SSS), Supreme Court, and Office of the Ombudsman earned “good” net sincerity ratings.

On the other hand, “moderate” ratings were given to the Commission on Audit (COA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Sandiganbayan, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Department of Justice (DOJ), local government units, Commission on Elections (Comelec), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The Department of Finance (DoF), Senate, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Agriculture received “neutral” ratings.

Unpunished

Based on the survey, 67 percent of the Cebu respondents say punishment on corrupt government officials are seldom done, while 17 percent responded with “almost never”. Eleven percent believe corrupt officials are punished often, and four percent answered almost always.

Sought for comment, Guerrero recommended that a focus group discussion (FGD) among the Cebu respondents be done to explain the worsening corruption practice. She said SWS limits itself to the quantitative side of the survey and does not provide analysis to be “neutral.”

The 2016 SWS Corruption Survey is already in its 13th leg. This year’s study was supported by the Australian Embassy-The Asia Foundation (TAF) Partnership in the Philippines, and USAID through the Integrity for Investments Initiative, and in partnership with the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).
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