This is from the newspaper Malaya. The situation seems to be getting worse not better. Arroyo clings to power no matter what.
‘In dismissing these findings, someone must be in denial mode.’
The Philippines has finally made it to the top. It’s now No.1 in corruption in Asia, edging out Indonesia which had been perennial topnotcher since the generals grabbed power in 1965. What Ferdinand Marcos failed to do in 20 years, Gloria Arroyo did in six years after riding to power on the back of public disgust over the alleged thievery of Joseph Estrada.
The easy explanation for the Philippines’ grabbing of the top spot is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s ascent to the Indonesian presidency in October 2004. Yudhoyono, it could be argued, has put a stop to the excesses of the Suharto family and their cronies, easing foreign businessmen’s perception of widespread corruption.
The grading system used by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, however, does not support this easy explanation. The perception of worsening corruption in the Philippines is not relative to Indonesia’s, which by the way weighed in at 8.03, same as Thailand’s.
The Philippines got 9.40 on a grading system which has 0 for the best possible score and 10 for the worst. This score was a significant drop from 7.80 last year.
In short, the Philippines was not left behind because of improvement in the fight against corruption in its neighbors. The perception of corruption simply got worse.
If it is any consolation, PERC, which provides advice to private firms and governments, said it has not observed any worsening in the actual condition.
"It is bad and has been bad all along. People are just growing tired of the inaction and insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption," it said, citing the prolonged corruption trial of Estrada as an example why the respondents "were so negative in their assessment."
Arroyo, however, would have none of PERC’s provision for wiggle room. She said PERC, along with other analysts, were relying on old data and – horror of horrors – even newspaper reports.
"The credit ratings were fine. Iyung political analysis they work on old data. They don’t work on up-to-date data and then they look at newspapers. And if you’re going to look at who are the ones in Transparency International-Philippines, they are made up of opposition people," she said.
How the Berlin-based Transparency International got sideswiped in Arroyo’s denunciation of surveys and analyses was not explained. The reason probably is that PERC is a commercial outfit and cannot be accused of being influenced by the opposition.
But Transparency International bases its global corruption index partly on the findings of PERC, along with 11 other outfits doing political and business risk assessments. Transparency International country experts, in consultation with peers, refine the findings.
So what opposition influence was Gloria talking about?
While we are talking about Transparency International, we might as well mention how the Philippines ranked in its corruption listing.
In 2005, the Philippines was 117th. Last year, it was 121st.
In dismissing these findings, someone must be in denial mode.