A woman browses the offical website of President Benigno Aquino with a header, "Kayo ang Boss
ko (You are my Boss)" in Manila on August 17, 2010. (AFP)
Philippine leader goes online to fight corruption
A woman browses the offical website of President Benigno Aquino with a header, "Kayo ang Boss
ko (You are my Boss)" in Manila on August 17, 2010. (AFP)
Internet-savvy Philippine President Benigno Aquino is opening the doors of government through cyberspace,
promising unprecedented public access to help fight entrenched corruption. Filipinos are among the world's most enthusiastic
users of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and Aquino says he wants this huge online community to become
a new force in stamping out graft.
"We cannot underestimate the potency or the power of digital media," said presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma, who headed
a project launched this week linking Aquino's website (www.president.gov.ph) to social networking platforms. "It is a very
viral, contagious and infectious process that really creates and multiplies awareness all throughout." Coloma called on Filipino
netizens to go to Aquino's various web pages and report anyone involved in corruption.
They can also give general comments about how to improve government operations...By using the Internet, he is aiming to
give ordinary Filipinos a sense that they can finally stand up to corrupt officials or the ultra rich who have long been able
to avoid scrutiny. "This will generate a groundswell of public participation in good governance," Coloma said.
The finance department is running a parallel website (www.perangbayan.com) where anyone can anonymously complain about
corrupt government officials or provide details about tax cheats and smugglers. It is also linked to Facebook and has already
received 800 reports in recent weeks, some of which have become the basis for investigations, the government said. Internal
Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares told AFP her office was receiving up to 20 tips a day against tax evaders through her Facebook
page as well as through dedicated telephone hotlines she set up...
Nick Gonzalez, a web analyst who operates CheckFacebook.com, ranks the Philippines as the seventh-biggest market in the
world for the social networking site with nearly 16 million users. That means nearly a fifth of the population use Facebook...
Philippines' Aquino takes
reform agenda into cyberspace
official handout shows Presidential Communication Operation Office Secretary Herminio Coloma(R) during the launching of the
President's official website in Malacanang palace in Manila. Philippine President Benigno Aquino launched the website to allow
the public to directly air complaints against authorities as part of his vow to promote transparency and crush corruption.
AFP - Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Monday launched a website
that allows the public to directly air complaints against authorities as part of his vow to promote transparency and crush
Aquino's estimated 1.8 million followers on
Facebook were urged to participate in the website, www.president.gov.ph, which can be accessed via other networking sites such as Twitter, Friendster,
YouTube and Multiply.
"The new media infrastructure has been developed to provide a feedback
mechanism so people can stay connected with the president and government," Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma said.
"(This) is a commitment of the national leadership to rebuild trust in
government and ushering in a new era, a new culture of governance."
He said a platform by which the country's millions of mobile phone users
would be able to send their concerns to the website via text messaging was also being developed.
Government agencies will be able to monitor all concerns and complaints
aired over the website, and Aquino himself would regularly consult it.
"He will visit it everyday in the same way he did during the campaign
when he kept himself abreast in sentiments in FB (Facebook)," Coloma said.
Aquino's volunteers deftly used Internet social networking sites to promote
his anti-corruption message, helping him to win the May election by a landslide.
The new website, however, will not only be limited to supporters.
Critics are also welcome to post their comments and will not be blocked,
"We welcome a diversity of views. There will be a democratic and spirited
exchange of idea. Let a thousand flowers boom, as the saying goes," Coloma said.
Within hours of the site being launched, hundreds of people had posted
comments on a wide range of topics, from alleged corruption at Manila's airport to the plight of Filipino workers overseas
and calls to legalise marijuana.
Local officials urged to
post budgets and contract on Internet
Extract from Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8/14/2010
In an effort to make transactions by local governments transparent,
the Department of Interior and Local Government is exhorting local government officials to post their budgets, contracts and
expenses on the Internet.
In a statement, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo
said local government units should make use of government websites by disclosing their budgets and expenses.
“If local government units would not be pressured to do this,
efforts to make them more transparent and accountable will be unsuccessful,” said Robredo.
He said he will ask the League of Municipalities of the Philippines,
the League of Cities of the Philippines, and the League of Provinces of the Philippines to come up with a joint resolution
supporting the DILG’s move to institutionalize governance that “values transparency, accountability, participation,
“LGUs will avoid this (disclosure policy) if they can. But
this is what the people want. We will use this clamor as an instrument against non-compliance to this policy,” Robredo
Specifically, Robredo said, there has to be full disclosure by
all LGUs of annual budgets, income, expenditures, contracts, and loans.
Robredo reminded LGUs that Republic Act 9184 or the Government
Procurement Reform Act that stipulates the posting of the annual procurement plan, invitation to bids, and bid winners in
“conspicuous places within the buildings in the locality, the Internet, and newspapers of general circulation.”
He added that he was targeting an initial 50 percent compliance
among LGUs. “The annual procurement plans of at least fifty percent of all LGUs should be published in the Internet.”
Earlier, the DILG itself took the lead by publishing on its official
website its annual budget and those of the other agencies attached to it, including the Philippine National Police, the Bureau
of Jail Management and Penology, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the National Police Commission, the Philippine Public Safety
College, and the Local Government Academy...
Robredo said disclosing the DILG’s financial statements online
was not only meant for transparency. “It’s also a way to gather feedback of the people so they can suggest how
we can spend government funds.”
Senate streams sessions online
The Philippine Senate has begun broadcasting live on the Internet, in keeping with President Benigno Aquino's pledge
of government transparency, officials said. The online broadcasts, which began this week, are also part of the 5-month-old
government's aggressive use of the Internet and social networking media to engage the public and help it fight corruption.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who convinced the upper house of parliament to stream its proceedings online, at www.senate.gov.ph, said the webcasts would allow the public to monitor public hearings on the proposed 2011 budget.
"Opening public proceedings to new media of late has become a vital source of interaction not only in the country
but in other countries' governments as well," said Pangilinan, a member of Aquino's Liberal Party.
"Our aim is to provide the public... accurate information, transparency and accountability.... this is also aligned
with the goals of the Aquino administration in having the public participate in governance."
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has pledged daily hearings to get the 1.645-trillion-peso (37.26-billion-dollar)
budget bill passed by December 1. The House of Representatives has already passed its own version of the bill, which must
be reconciled with the Senate version before Aquino signs it into law. The lower house has not given any signals it will broadcast
its sessions on the Internet.
Dept of Finance launches crowdsourcing website
The Department of Finance (DOF) today officially launched a multi-platform crowdsourcing
initiative to help gather reports and feedback from the public on the spending habits of public officials.
presences on Facebook and Twitter were soft-launched simultaneously last July 24, it was only today that the main crowdsourcing
site was officially launched:www.PeraNgBayan.com.
"The Pera ng Bayan website provides a feedback mechanism
from the citizens to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies utilizing relevant social network tools. The citizens
should be able to report exemplary performance of civil servants under the department as well as send information relevant
to graft, improper action, negligence, lavish lifestyle and other illegal practices of the same," notes the website's "About"
The project, held in cooperation with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC), was
hinted at by Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima...last July 15.
Methods for submitting reports
on the home page of PeraNgBayan.com is an interactive graphic of a child looking up at a blackboard with the words, "Anong
report mo? Pasado o Reklamo". Clicking on the graphic enables a visitor to the site to post an anonymous report, with the
option to attach a supporting file, such as a photo, video, or document.
The reports are not available to the public,
but the site features a running counter to indicate the number of reports received. As of 1:30pm on August 7, 2010, the counter
showed that 257 reports had already been filed thus far.
The DOF has also encouraged the public to send in reports
via its linked Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Plans of action
On the DOF's Facebook page, the agency noted that
it is "extremely happy with the public's response and feedback" but simply said that it is "now processing the submissions."
received will be compiled and sent to the corresponding Agency head. (For example,) tax reports will be sent to the BIR Commissioner.
Then we will follow up and ensure (that) reports are looked into and, if valid, that the necessary actions are taken. The
status of each report will be available online so that people will be aware of the progress of the reports," PeraNgBayan.com
told GMANews.TV... The DOF's crowdsourcing initiative follows on the heels of President Benigno Aquino III's earlier commitment
to use social media as "feedback mechanisms" to help address corruption in government. In his State of the Nation Address Aquino
cited corruption in government as a major factor in the country's P196.7 billion budget deficit. - GMANews.TV
Technology vs. corruption
...it comes as a surprise that some people are still resisting the idea of using fast and reliable technology
that will interconnect vehicular data among different agencies and concerned private sector industries, for convenience, safety
on the road and the elimination of illegal public transport franchises and corruption among traffic law enforcement operatives.
Then again, it’s easy to understand that those who doing the opposing stand to lose lucrative illegal earnings are the
ones against interconnectivity.
The interconnectivity project involving government transport agencies, the insurance industry and other stakeholders
even has the blessing of the public transportation groups that have long lost income to fake franchisees, the so-called “colorum”
vehicles that take away fares that should be rightfully theirs. And for the rest of us who use the roads, interconnectivity
promises to put an end to a lot of the anguish that we encounter on a daily basis, from car theft, to vehicles with fake insurance
policies, to bogus emissions tests and drivers’ licenses, to mulcting traffic enforcers.
The interconnectivity project of the Department of Transportation and Communication, the Land Transportation Office
and their exclusive technology provider Stradcom will take the current computerized system that has worked so well for licensing
drivers and registering vehicles to the next logical level. The expanded program will open the LTO’s database on all
vehicles and drivers to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (which regulates public transport franchisees
like buses, jeepneys and taxis), the police, the Metro Manila Development Authority (whose enforcers issue tickets to traffic
violators), the insurance industry and other sectors that are involved in public and private transportation throughout the
Of course, the same syndicates that had previously and mightily opposed computerized driver’s licensing and
vehicle registration— many of them working in cahoots with crooked LTO employees—are against interconnectivity.
After all, the expanded system would ruin their remaining rackets such as the sale of fake insurance policies and bogus emission
testing, to name just two.
Anyone who has bought a fake “comprehensive” insurance policy or who has gotten involved in an accident
with someone who has knows the anguish that this can cause. And for many years, vendors of non-existent mandatory insurance
policies or a legitimate policy whose numbers were illegally “distributed” to many vehicles made a killing out
of this racket, which interconnectivity will solve.
And smoke-belching vehicles will continue to pollute our air as long as unscrupulous emission-testing centers (many
of them also working with LTO employees) give certificates to “no-show” vehicles for a fee. Interconnectivity
with private emission testing centers will eradicate the practice, rampant during the first few years after the passage of
the Clean Air Act, of selling fake Certificates of Emission Compliance that will now show up when a vehicle is being registered.
With the interconnection of the databases of the LTO and the LTFRB, the longtime practice of selling fake public
conveyance franchises to unsuspecting owners of jeepneys, buses, taxis and other utility vehicles could become a thing of
the past, as well. Heretofore, “colorum” vehicles get registered with the LTO even if they have fake franchises
because confirmation and verification were done manually and were prone to human intervention and corruption.
With interconnectivity, franchises can be verified electronically and in real time so only PUVs with valid franchises
will be allowed to register with the LTO. According to 1-Utak transport sector party-list Rep. Vigor Mendoza, interconnectivity
will greatly help PUV operators and drivers because now they will be able to transact at any LTO office, unlike in the past
when they had to spend so much money and time to bring vehicles to LTFRB and then back to LTO just to confirm their franchise
and register their vehicles.
Interconnectivity is coming to the transport sector, whether the syndicates like it or not—and not a moment
- extract from opinion article by Jojo Robles in Manila Standard
Clinton urges youth to fight corruption through
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged Filipinos,
particularly the youth, "to report corruption" through social networking at a town hall meeting in a Manila university on
Friday before she ended her two-day visit to the Philippines.
She said technological advancements like social networking can be used to exact accountability from
leaders, citing as examples the recent Twitter-triggered demonstrations in Iraq and Colombia.
"We want to see governments
held more accountable to their own people. There should be more transparency, more accountability... And I think the new technology
provides for that," she stressed during a forum at the University of Santo Tomas...
the things that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded about the Philippine government was its efforts to fully automate
polls. She urged the youth to become 'reporters of corruption' by tapping social media networks. GMANews.TV 11/13/09
Angry Indians take anti-corruption fight online
By Ammu Kannampilly (AFP) NEW DELHI — After decades spent deploring the daily blight of
bribery in private, thousands of Indians are taking the anti-graft fight into their own hands and going online to shame the
India is no stranger to graft, whether it be a billion-dollar corporate fraud case or absurdly
inflated toilet paper contracts for the athletes' village at last month's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
But corruption is most vividly felt in people's everyday lives, with seemingly endless requests
for backhanders to secure everything from phone connections to birth certificates and school admissions letters.
A Bangalore-based non-profit organisation, Janaagraha, responded to the problem in August by
setting up a website, IPaidABribe.com (IPAB), a cathartic forum for angry citizens to vent their frustration and share experiences.
In February, a lobby group called 5th Pillar printed and distributed a zero-rupee note, urging
people to hand them out whenever they encountered a greedy bureaucrat.
And in the western state of Gujarat, graduate students from the elite Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad
are setting up a toll-free helpline for citizens faced with official corruption.
Nearly 2,000 people have logged on to the IPAB website so far and their irate anecdotes reveal
the depth and breadth of the problem.
One man recalled receiving threats from an official at the income tax department, asking him
to pay 30,000 rupees (680 dollars) or risk harassment from the tax authorities.
A restaurant owner wrote about paying 290,000 rupees for a liquor licence. And, perhaps most
shocking, a doctor reports on a cardiosurgeon at a publicly-funded hospital quietly asking for 10,000 rupees to operate on
For some, complying with demands for bribes is not only a source of anger, but also one of shame
at participating in a system they abhor.
"I felt awful that day," one young woman wrote after paying 3,500 rupees to acquire a driver's
"And yet the driver's licence was important to me. I didn't know how else to get it. I hate
to live in India because I am scared I will come across such a situation again and feel helpless about it," she said.
The initiative is run by a retired civil servant, T.R. Raghunandan, who also offers advice online
on how to navigate India's labyrinthine bureaucracy without shelling out kickbacks.
And government officials have begun to take notice.
Alarmed by the number of complaints about the issuing of drivers' licences, Karnataka transport
commissioner Bhaskar Rao contacted the team behind IPAB and has since issued warnings to several officers working at the regional
"It's a shameful situation," Rao told AFP. "But I don't entirely blame people who want to hurry
things up by paying bribes. Public service delivery is so slow in this country. The systems are so outdated, and the entire
infrastructure is backward."
The team behind IPAB believes that taking anti-corruption efforts online is a model that government
"Corruption happens when you have a situation where people can exercise discretion with no accountability,"
"For instance, to file a complaint with the police, it's up to the officer to exercise discretion.
Whereas if you could file a complaint online, you are removing that possibility."
IPAB has already made some headway. The Karnataka Electric Transmission Corp. recently contacted
Raghunandan about sending accounts personnel to volunteer as public grievance officers online.
The IPAB team is also looking to create mobile phone access and to build a counselling centre
where volunteers will help people deal with officials without paying bribes.
Pratyush Sinha, who retired this year as head of the government's main corruption watchdog,
the Central Vigilance Commission, said the worst part of his "thankless job" had been observing how the problem had insinuated
itself into the very fabric of society.
"When we were growing up I remember if somebody was corrupt, they were generally looked down
upon," Sinha said. "There was at least some social stigma attached to it. That is gone. So there is greater social acceptance."
Transparency International, the global anti-graft body, puts India 87th on its corruption perception
index -- 10 places below China -- with a 3.3-point rating, out of a best possible score of 10.
Ramesh Ramanathan, co-founder of IPAB's parent organisation, Janaagraha, admitted that attempting
to eradicate the culture of bribery was a "marathon task," and argued that the only solution was public empowerment.
"In India, we treat democracy as something of a spectator sport, we read about it over our morning
"This is more visceral," he said of the IPAB website. "It's a chance for people to do something
about an issue that affects us every day."
Digital map of crime and corruption gives impetus to citizen journalism in Panama
by Jorge Luis Sierra
Panamanian journalists are developing the “My Transparent Panama” platform as a model digital tool that can be used to cover crime and corruption in Latin America. The project is an online digital map that plots citizen-provided information about incidents ranging from fraud and theft
to murder and rape.
Ushahidi allows users to make reports directly on the website, map the location, date, and time of the episode, and even upload photos and video. In Panama, we additionally have the ability
to receive reports from citizens via text messages to the number 5638.
The project covers the entire country. We have received reports from practically every Panamanian province. People are
reporting cases of nepotism, political use of social assistance, corruption in government services, the use of official vehicles
for personal use, fraudulent businesses, schemes to defraud consumers, places where drugs are being sold, illegal landing
strips, and the location of drug trafficking cells.
As you can see, users are reporting on sensitive issues. Citizen reports are not put directly onto the website: A moderator
filters information that might put the user at risk or passes over stories that do not appear to be credible, could be deliberately
false, libelous, or done with intent to harm. In any case, users are responsible for the accuracy of the information they
From October 2010 to the beginning of February, we have collected 287 citizen reports – 100 via text message –
of which 52% were corruption allegations. The other top categories included murder, armed assault, and theft. Over the last six months the site has had 2610 absolute
unique visitors and 9530 page views.
We are finishing the journalist training stage, and next we will begin the investigation phase and the production of stories
related to the citizen reports.
The project’s main idea is to have citizen reports investigated by journalists and that stories and features are
published and broadcast based on this information. Ultimately, this can improve the quality of investigative journalism in
Panama and open new paths for collaboration between journalists and citizens.
However, civil society also has an important role to play. Citizen reports are handled by pro bon lawyers working for Transparency
International’s Panama division, who advise citizens and journalists on anticorruption issues. We are currently in conversations
with the National Police to share criminal allegations and pass on citizen petitions for police action.
Jorge Luis Sierra is a Mexican journalist specialized in security and defense issues and directs the My Transparent
Panama project. Sierra, who covered the war in Iraq in 2003, has worked as an editor and a writer for the Hispanic newspapers
La Voz de Houston and Rumbo in Texas, and Qué Pasa in North Carolina. He also has worked for some of the most influential
newspapers and magazines in Mexico, such as El Universal, Contralínea, Proceso, Reforma, El Independiente, Expansión, Siglo
21, and To2.com.
The Brazilian Congress recently passed a law, Ficha Limpa (Clean Criminal Record), that bars politicians
with criminal records from running for public office. The law will apply to the general elections scheduled this October.
The Federal Election Board, the counterpart of our Commission on Elections, has ruled that the law will have retroactive effect,
making politicians convicted of crime prior to the ratification of the law by the Brazilian president ineligible to run.
The offenses that fall under the law include drug trafficking, financial and environmental crime, electoral fraud,
and ethical offenses. Sources in Congress say that as many as 250 members of Congress have legal problems that could lead
to their disqualification from running for reelection. The law is seen as a big step toward moralizing Brazilian politics
as Congress has been the safe haven of criminals in Brazil. And I thought such things are true "only in da Pilipins."
Brazilians were galvanized into action after the 1996 general elections were marked with massive vote-buying by
several candidates. The elections, considered the dirtiest in the history of Brazil, led to the formation of the Brazilian
Commission for Justice and Peace. Previously, Brazilians were apathetic to electoral fraud because it has become so much a
part of the country’s electoral process.
The proposed law initially met with strong resistance from entrenched politicians as it presented a threat to their
continued stay in positions of power and influence. But a petition of over two million signatures, 500,000 online actions,
and tens of thousands of phone calls pressured members of Congress to approve the Ficha Limpa bill. The Senate approved the
One Brazilian member of the movement said: "Our strategy was simple: make a solution so popular and visible that
it can’t be opposed, and be so vigilant that we can’t be ignored." Senator Pedro Simon told The Rio Times
that the passage of the law proved the idea that "nothing ever changes in Brazil" is wrong.
A big change in Brazil indeed the enactment of the Clean Criminal Record law is! That means that it is "only in
da Pilipins" where Congress remains the refuge of criminals. There are many members of the Congress of the Philippines who
are accused of plunder, murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, electoral fraud, and unethical conduct who were reelected
The stunning victory against corruption in Brazil shows what ordinary but determined citizens can accomplish. The
Brazilian campaign was made possible by just a couple of Avaaz.org members posting their advocacy to over
600,000 Avaaz.org members in Brazil. Avaaz.org is an international civic organization that
promotes activism on various issues like human rights via e-mail, online public petitions, and e-mail-your-leader tools. The
Brazilian experience has shown that technology in the form of the Internet can enable a small group of concerned citizens
to galvanize millions of people to work together on the most pressing problems confronting them.
The allies...are bent on blocking the reforms President Benigno Aquino is trying to institute in governance. They
blocked the passage of the Freedom of Information Act by not attending the session reserved for the voting on that Act, thus
preventing the presence of a quorum. They are poised to question the formation of the Truth Commission in the Supreme Court,
obviously confident that the...court will rule the Truth Commission legally infirm...
We used the Internet to disseminate the message that Noynoy would be the best candidate to bring about reforms
in governance. We succeeded. We can use the Internet again to help PNoy fulfill his promise. He has exposed many of the abuses
of...underlings and removed many gofers, including generals, from government. But many still remain in government and in fact
are bent on clinging to their sinecures.
Let us use the Net again to unmask the crooks that remain in government and the big businessmen who have corrupted
and continue to corrupt government officials. Yesterday, the Inquirer buzzed about a big smuggler who has paid off
officials in...governments to turn their eyes away from the obvious. Let those who know pass on through the Net his name as
well as those of public officials he had paid off to smuggle in his huge volume of merchandise.
Let those who know reveal the names of contractors that the World Bank had blacklisted for being involved in anomalous
transactions with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the names of those who in the DPWH they transacted with.
Let those who know reveal the names of bus operators who give payola to officials of transportation regulatory agencies.
Let those who know give the professional background of the favored MWSS trustees...What are the credentials of
the other lavishly compensated trustees? What are the credentials of the other trustees and directors of government corporations?
Let those who know reveal how an officer of Pagcor could have amassed P21 million as to be able to advance that
much in behalf of Pagcor to pay for the McDonald’s snacks of Metro Manila policemen. Let those who know reveal the compensation
package of those who or whose significant others sat in the boards of government corporations and moonlighted as publicists...
- Extract from an opinion article from BusinessWorld Online by Oscar P. Lagman,
Links to more articles on technology vs. corruption
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aims at bringing people to a renewed sensitivity to the evil of corruption and its prevalence in ordinary life. It seeks ultimately
to make them more intensely aware of their own vulnerability to corruption, their own uncritiqued, often unwitting practice
of corruption in daily life. Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical
of corruption, intent on integrity!
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