CORRUPTION has worsened in the Philippines that nothing less than an “uncompromised political will” on the part of the government is needed to combat the problem. This was the assessment of the global anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) as it noted how the country under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has sunk further down the corruption perceptions index (CPI) worldwide according to its annual surveys.

Last year, the country was ranked 131st out of 179 nations surveyed — the lowest it has attained since the index was introduced in 1995. Grouped with Burundi, Honduras, Iran, Libya, Nepal, and Yemen, the Philippines garnered a CPI score of 2.5 with a confidence range of 2.3 to 2.7. It was also among the worst in Asia, ranking 22nd out of 35 countries. (see also “Not ‘entirely’ without basis,” and “A closer look at the 2008 PERC survey“)

The CPI score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts, and ranges between 10 (indicating low levels of perceived corruption) and zero (indicating high levels of perceived corruption). The confidence range, meanwhile, provides a range of possible values of the CPI score. This reflects how a country’s score may vary.

Under Arroyo, the country has been steadily slipping in the TI Index, with the country’s CPI score unable to improve beyond 2.6. In 2001, the Philippines was at 65 out of 90 countries with a CPI of 2.9 and confidence range of 1.6 to 4.8. (see table)

Fidel V. Ramos
Joseph E. Estrada
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Source: Transparency International

TI regional director Pascal Fabie, however, pointed out that it would be misleading to use the CPI rating in comparison with other countries. He said that more importantly, the ranking provides “a window, a spotlight, a gauge of how a country is struggling with corruption.”

Read the comprehensive report of Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index.

Anti-corrupt agencies ‘failing’

The Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) created by Arroyo to address complaints of graft and corruption in government, according to TI Philippines chairman Dolores Español, has not been effective in its task.

“Otherwise, there would have been a perceptible improvement in reducing the level of corruption in the country,” she said.

Aside from PAGC, the Commission on Audit, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Sandiganbayan, as mandated by the 1987 Constitution, were created against the misuse of state power for personal gain.

Transparency and Accountability Network executive director Vincent Lazatin said that the Ombudsman is supposed to be the lead anti-corruption agency, having the constitutional mandate to initiate investigations and proactively go after corrupt officials.

Citing the President’s alleged involvement in the overpriced national broadband network (NBN) deal, Lazatin said, “We would expect that an agency with such powers — without the need of complaint — would have the initiative to investigate it (NBN) as it is very visible and high-profile.”

In response to Lazatin, Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn Baliton said that they would address these challenges. The lawyer also explained that their very limited resources have caused the perceived delay in the disposition of cases.

“Since we have only about 200 investigators watching over 1.5 million employees in the government, we have to strategize our limited resources,” said Baliton.

To project the image that her government is tough against graft corruption, Arroyo had declared in the wake of the “most corrupt country” tag from PERC in March that corrupt government officials will be punished. “Let the chips fall where they may, as investigations are concluded, and friend and foe alike are brought to account or their actions in the proper courts,” she said.

Arroyo also announced increases in the budget of the PAGC and the Office of the Ombudsman, and the creation of a Procurement Transparency Group (PTG) to open government projects to public scrutiny following the revelations on the NBN deal.

Such efforts however suffer from the wide public perception that Arroyo herself, and her family, are enriching themselves while in power.

Despite the recent belated filing of charges against former justice secretary Hernando Perez for extortion in connection with the IMPSA power project, corruption cases have also remained unresolved, including those that date back to Arroyo’s first two years in office like the allegedly overpriced P1.1-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, the P729-million fertilizer funds scam, the use of PhilHealth funds to induce votes for Arroyo in the 2004 elections, the “Hello, Garci” scandal, the P1.3-billion computerization contract of the Commission on Elections that the the Supreme Court invalidated for glaring irregularities in its bidding process, the multi-million dollar secret lobbying contracts to push for charter change, among others.

Poor in transparency

On a scale of one to five — five being the government as fully transparent — Lazatin said that the Arroyo administration would get a score lower than one.

He cited that presidential appointments have been a “blackbox process.” The lack of transparency in choosing officials for sensitive government posts such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court increases perception that these positions are being politicized, he said.

For Luis Teodoro, deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the media as another watchdog, have also been experiencing difficulty in reporting governance issues.

Teodoro is referring to non-disclosure of public information, sustained assault, libel suits and the continuing assassination of media practitioners.

“(It has become) difficult to get information and disseminate this to the public that wants it and need it,” said Teodoro.

Lazatin further added that the attempt to muzzle government executives through Executive Order 464 and the executive privilege are two examples of how the government clamps down on vital information about the administration.

7 Responses to ‘Uncompromised political will’ needed to counter worsening corruption — TI


nosi balasi

May 24th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

This is the legacy of the present government. One classic example that I just read today from Yahoo Asia News.

MANILA (AFP) – The rice crisis affecting the Philippines is not caused by a shortage of rice but due to bad policies that have hurt the agriculture sector, a leading economist said in a report released Wednesday.

“The so-called rice crisis is really an income crisis,” said Rolando Dy, executive director of the food division of the Manila-based University of Asia and the Pacific.

He blamed “under-investment in agriculture and infrastructure, a poor record in eliminating poverty (and) poor infrastructure quality,” for the crisis which has forced thousands of poor Filipinos to line up for hours for subsidised rice.

“We cannot reap what we did not sow. We failed in reducing rural poverty compared to other countries,” like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, he said.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest rice importers and does not enjoy large contiguous land areas with large river systems that allow China, India, Vietnam and Thailand to grow huge amounts of rice, Dy conceded.

But he said other countries which are more dependent on imported rice, like Malaysia and Singapore did not have long queues for rice and were not suffering from the crisis as badly as the Philippines.

Dy said that rice consumption in the Philippines was so high because much of its population was still poor and could afford to eat nothing else.

“There are so many poor people here, the only food they can afford is a mound of rice and some catsup (tomato sauce),” he said.

The Philippines could raise productivity but it had not properly invested in agriculture or its support infrastructure like irrigation and farm-to-market roads, Dy said.

He said the government was investing little in research and development, building sub-standard rural roads and not putting enough irrigation into potential growth areas like the southern region of Mindanao.

Dy also complained that an agriculture modernisation law that took effect in 2000 was not getting adequate funding.

Graft and corruption also hurt the agriculture sector with rural infrastructure being built to poor standards.

The rice crisis might even be a blessing in disguise because it “will spur production and even investments,” in agriculture which will have a positive effect in the long run, Dy said.

But he said the rice issue is “a problem not just of the executive branch… it is a problem of the legislative and judiciary,” as well.

Dy said that there is likely to be “some correction in rice prices in the next 12 months but not dramatically,” remarking that world rice prices will not return to levels seen in 2006. (source: Yahoo Asia News Wednesday May 21, 11:47 AM)

It is impossible to counter the worsening corruption…it is much better to skip the year 2009…and let 2010 start early next year. Para tapos na!


Bob Malit

May 26th, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Filipinos are very confused. They want to get rid of graft and corruption yet they perpetuate the same corrupt elected officials; they fight amongst themselves, elected officials are engaged in never-ending investigation in aid of legislation and yet not one meaningful law is passed to solve problems; Filipinos are experts in enumerating problems but couldn’t create solutions; Philippine Media and Journalists including PCIJ are very good in what they do but for what??????

All of these amount to nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!



May 27th, 2008 at 1:52 am

Bob Malit, my quintessential guru. We called it fingerpointing.



May 27th, 2008 at 2:23 am

By the way, Bob, some other people (the extremists) see us also as fingerpointers by continously posting our own opinion/bias on this website which are not being being read or taken serious note of those in power.

Hopelessrace, a constant visitor in the live shoutbox wishes to just spray all politicians, judges, media practitioners with armalite, or hang them all… sometimes, yo can see the sanity of this suggestion, though, I conscience, I could not openly advocate for it myself.


nosi balasi

May 27th, 2008 at 10:38 am

Bob, you maybe right that Filipinos are confused but not very confused :)…anyways…who amongst us would like graft and corruption practices…no one… and no one will admit it. What behind those investigations? and Why it needed to be investigated?…if no one will like graft and corruption practices or no one admitted graft and corruption practices…Filipinos (may not all ha) may agree that this investigation is nothing!!!…but not all agree, maybe the majority or maybe the minority Filipinos are in doubt. And why Filipinos perpetuated the same corrupt officials…maybe the COMELEC has the biggest number of vote among the confused Filipino…and also…I agree that Filipinos are experts in enumerating the problems that they could not find solutions…the very reason is that the present Government maybe lacking many of these…
1) Sovereignty of the people.
2) Government based upon consent of the governed.
3) Majority rule.
4) Minority rights.
5) Guarantee of basic human rights.
6) Free and fair elections.
7) Equality before the law.
8) Due process of law.
9) Constitutional limits on government.
10) Social, economic, and political pluralism.
11) Values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise.



May 30th, 2008 at 10:30 am

As we may expect the worsening problem in the Philippines is a poor governance of their illegitimate President they voted.Filipino may not have to wait for their recovery in the massive corruption in that country,true Gloria Macapagal was the most corrupt President in the Philippine since the beginning of her term,cheater as we may call her & lier.

Too much politics in that country causes deterioration in their financial gain,we may say all the people involve in their past election got the job as reward for Gloria to be installed in the fake election that year.Poor Pilipino you should be ashamed for your President in your country.


The Daily PCIJ » Blog Archive » How to deal with corruption metrics like the CPI

December 2nd, 2008 at 5:30 pm

[…] the Arroyo government, would be a big “No,” pointing as they do to its “lack of political will” to go after corrupt officials, moreso if they happen to be its political […]

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