A culture of corruption
DESPITE President Aquino’s vow
to end corruption in government, the Philippines was ranked the world’s 12th most corrupt country in a field of 178
nations in the latest survey by Transparency
International, a global watchdog group.
On a scale of one to 10, with one being the worst
score possible, the Philippines scored 2.4 in the Corruption Perception Index, putting it in the same league as Azerbaijan,
Bangladesh, Honduras, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
Among the founding members of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations, we are now perceived to be the most corrupt, even compared to Indonesia, which had a better index
of 2.8. Among the bloc’s newer
members, only Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos scored worse
than we did—certainly something President Aquino should keep at the back of his mind when he meets his peers at the
17th Asean summit in Hanoi this week.
While our index of 2.4 was the same as it was in
2009, our place on the global corruption ladder actually slipped a notch from last year, when we were the 13th most corrupt
Notwithstanding any spin that the administration’s
three communications secretaries might put on the latest survey, the 2010 results are a disappointment. At the very least,
they mean that despite Mr. Aquino’s posturing and his efforts to vigorously prosecute officials from the previous administration,
the public perception is that little has changed in our culture of corruption.
We cannot say we are surprised.
After all, it is one thing to chase down the corrupt
among one’s political opponents. It is more convincing when the guilty among friend and foe alike are punished to the
Yet this is not what this administration has shown
In Congress, the currency is pork, not ideals, and
horsetrading is the order of the day.
Within the Executive branch, friends of the President
seem immune from suit, even when a panel headed by the Justice secretary finds them liable for administrative offenses.
The President’s family-owned hacienda is apparently
exempted from the harshest effects of the agrarian reform law, even though other landowners have complied.
Whether the President admits it or not, this kind
of special treatment is a form of corruption, and unless he cleans house on both sides of the political fence, we will continue
to be perceived as a culture
that condones corruption.
As Mr. Aquino often points out, fighting corruption
isn’t just the job of government, that we all have a role in fighting corruption.
That job is easier to do, however, when our leaders
truly lead by example.