WE EXPECT TO ASK this query -for after all President Pnoy Aquino’s favorite slogan was ” Walang Mahirap Kung Walang Corrupt” . H was also often accused of under-spending the national budget since he would rather “not spend” than have a tainted usage of such.
Very often corruption has been tagged as the culprit in the nation’s economic underdevelopment and absence of “inclusivity” if indeed there was growth.
Fortunately, the Social Weather Station (SWS) has been tracking this over a period of 12 survey years starting from the Joseph Estrada years to the last year of Aquino in 2016.
Through the National Competitiveness Council some of the results were bared. It appeared necessary to compare the Aquino years (BSA) versus the previous administration of (GMA ) because the latter spanned a total of about 9 years from 2001-2010.What are the results based on interviews of the private sector nationwide?
Largely, there was a great improvement during the earlier years of BSA compared to GMA but an evident “backsliding” into the old ways were noted in the last survey year of 2016. Also, there were “good boys” and “bad boys” among the government instrumentalities , some improving, others worsening.
On the “valedictorian” plum should be the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) which appeared graft-free in two administrations. We track these agencies in this paper based on their last years of survey (GMA-2009) and (BSA -2016).
In the Honor Roll for their gains in the Aquino years are : Ombudsman (from 4 to 30 rating), Office of the President (-37 to positive 37), DepEd (from 7 to 32) and the DOH (remaining at 37).
What comes to mind will be the various graft cases thrown against GMA and the supine attitude of her former Ombudsman. The performance of DepEd’s Bro Luistro -with little fanfare- has been exemplary in the BSA years.
Still considered among the relatively “clean” agencies but had deteriorated slightly from GMA’s last survey years are: Department of Trace and Industry DTI ( from 43 to 38), DOLE ( from 43 to 38), Civil Service Commission ( from 40 to 30) and the Supreme Court (from 40 to 30).
Considered poor performers were the Department of Budget and Management ( from -17 to -10) with the BSA years bedeviled by the PDAF and the DAP controversies. Traditionally, the PNP (police) has suffered from poor public image ( from -12 to -13) .
The DPWH continues to be controversy-filled although it had gotten massive strides under the direction of Secretary Babes Singson of BSA (from -65 to -22).
Definitely, the DOTC during the BSA was beset by NCR traffic woes and NAIA shortfalls that it fell ( from -30 to -35). Under the feisty Kim Henaries, the BIR gained points but still in the negative ( from -57 to -37).
Unlike the Senate, the House of Representatives has been a perennial whipping boy since the Marcos years (from -34 to -28) .
In the Hall of Infamy and considered as “Bad” is the LTO which dove to the pits (from -39 to -60) in the eyes of the private sector interviewed nationwide betrwen February and May 2016. But the Citadel of Corruption remains the Bureau of Customs rated ” Very Bad” ( from -69 to -68) despite the many attempts to change its leadership.
The experience of the private sector with respect to corruption in dealing with government can be summarized: in the last three GMA years- 61-64 % believed there was graft involving the public sector. In the early BSA years only 43% (2012) and 56% (2013) suffered from graft pressure but back-slid to 63% in 2016 with 67% prevalent in the NCR.
But is the private sector in a position such that it cannot be called as akin to a pot calling the kettle “black”?
In 2009 , most claimed there was “a lot” of corruption among private sector players 9% compared to 11% in 2016. In 2009 , the private sector revealed that 19% of them had to resort to graft to win private contracts while in 2016 it registered the same at 20%.
Only 39% in 2016 said there are not enough strong anti-graft laws compared to 51% in 2009. About 73% of the priivate sector opined that seldom do grafters become punished by government while 87% of them believed the new FOI will help stem off graft,
Among those in the private sector who did not report corruption , 65-67% cited the futility of it all and 54-57% pointed to fear of reprisals.
It was shown that the private sector is not entirely blameless. While 70 % of them issued receipts, only half of them paid employees well and only 20% had correct books and paid taxes honestly. But 80% of them did not want to contribute monetarily to any anti-corruption crusade.
Among the best practices to curb graft were; do not bribe, know the law and be honest as among the top three; others were tell the media, and report corrupt practices.
In a recent forum of the NCC-SWS at the AIM (Asian Institute of Management) , citizens were urged to dial 8888 to report corrupt deals . Likewise, Art Carandang of the Ombudsman Investment sector invited all parties to report to his office particularly bribes and delays in issuance of permits licenses and excessive fees. One can even use an anonymous complainant identity for protection.
The Duterte administration has targeted Corruption as its third target for extermination after drugs and criminality. We can all be be either part of the problem or its solution.