Going over our “wayback machine” at emanila, I thought I revisit an article I wrote in 2003 (yes, days when blogging was not as much in vogue) which is equally relevant these days. The article, “Towards a cleaner and more transparent government“, commented on the downgrading of the Philippines rating in the Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI).
Here’s what we wrote:
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Towards a cleaner and more transparent government
Posted: Aug 20, 2003
Senator Panfilo Lacson is correct in saying that corruption has thrived in the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government. Transparency International survey results showed that the Philippines rating has been downgraded to 2.6 (out of a total score of 10 points) in year 2002 from 3.6 in 1999.
The most recent rating makes the Philippines the number 11 most corrupt country together with Pakistan, Romania and Zambia. The number 1 most corrupt country with a score of 1.2 and 0.4, respectively, is Bangladesh that has held the record for two years.
But Senator Lacson is wrong in raising corruption as an issue. Firstly, he is not free from criminal allegations either. Secondly, using corruption as a platform to advance political objectives only worsens the already tarnished image of the Philippines.
We are not saying that we should ignore the issue as if it does not exist. Corruption is a social malaise and a perversion of social values. It should be every nation’s goal to have a fair, just and honest government. But to bring out corruption as a daily political agenda is not the right way to go, especially with the presidential election in sight. The issue should be tackled in a more constructive manner with some form of an agreement from opposing political parties on how to fight corruption.
Besides, eradication of corruption should not, and cannot, rest solely on the government of the day, or by the opposition. It should be part of a continuing and concerted national effort – by those who govern and by those who are governed.
To stamp out corruption, there is also a need to “rewrite,” so to speak, a new code of ethics that should be observed by all – government officials, law enforcers, dispensers of justice, religious leaders, businesses, and educators. There is also a need for a massive educational campaign among the youth and their elders to re-orient them of their rights and obligations in building an honest government.
A cleaner and more transparent Philippine government will not come overnight. It will probably require at least a generation of new leaders with the right ethics to set this into place.
Meanwhile, what Senator Lacson or other presidential aspirants should show is how to tackle corruption. Mudslinging and corruption allegations are not going to solve the problem. Ad-hoc measures are also not remedies to a condition that has long existed. We need a long-term solution free from political affiliations. Let’s start with a genuine desire to free the nation from this social cancer.
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After almost seven years, we noted the Philippines rating has remained at very low level. Based on the latest TI survey, the Philippines is ranked number 139 out of 180 countries with a score of 2.4, out of a maximum score of 10, together with Bangladesh, Belarus and Pakistan.
New Zealand is regarded as the world’s least corrupt and is number 1 with a score of 9.4 followed by Denmark (9.3), Singapore (9.2), Sweden (9.2) and Switzerland (9.0). Australia and Canada scored 8.7 and are on the same place as number 6 least corrupt countries.
Somalia, with a score of 1.1, is ranked last (number 180) and is perceived as the most corrupt country.
For those who missed the scoring, did you notice which country the Philippines is with? Yes, Bangladesh. For several years in the past, Bangladesh was the butt of ridicule for corruption. In 2002, Bangladesh was perceived the worst and most corrupt country with a 0.4 score.
Some eight years later, Bangladesh is now out of that ground position. Now it is at par with the Philippines and Pakistan. Like the Philippines, it still is considered corrupt, but at least it has done something about its CPI.
And what about Romania and Zambia who were in the company of the Philippines back in 2002?
Did you know that Romania is now ranked number 71 with a score of 3.8 and Zambia, with a score of 3.0, is now number 99 in the ladder of countries included in the CPI.
That was quite a jump for Romania and Zambia, leaving the Philippines by at least 40 countries in the CPI ladder. Based on what we have been reading in the Philippines, I will not be surprised if the next round of CPI surveys will see Bangladesh also leaving behind the Philippines by a mile.