THE PHILIPPINES rose by two points — scoring 36 out of 100 points, zero being least corrupt — in the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that Transparency International (TI) released today, Dec.3, 2013.

However, the slight uptick in the country’s score was deemed “insignificant” by TI, because “the Philippines still belongs to the two-thirds of the 177 countries (that) scored below 50.”

In this non-charming circle of nations hounded by corruption, the 36/100 score of the Philippines is the same as that secured by Algeria, Armenia, Benin, Colombia, Djibouti, India, and Suriname, TI said in a press statement.

TI is “a global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption.”

According to TI, the CPI 2013 “offers a warning that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world.”

“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Dr. Huguette Labelle, chairperson of Transparency International.

Denmark and New Zealand tied for first place with scores of 91/100, landing as the least corrupt of the 177 countries surveyed.

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia scored the lowest at 8/100 points each.

In the Asia and Pacific region, 64 percent of the countries scored below 50.

“The top performers clearly reveal how transparency supports accountability and can stop corruption,” said Labelle. “Still, the better performers face issues like state capture, campaign finance and the oversight of big public contracts which remain major corruption risks.”

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on experts’ opinions of public sector corruption.

The scores that countries get are typically boosted by “strong access to information systems and rules governing the behavior of those in public positions.” In contrast, “a lack of accountability across the public sector coupled with ineffective public institutions hurt these perceptions,” TI said.

In the Philippines, “corruption within the public sector remains one of the country’s biggest challenges,” the TI statement said. “Public institutions and officials need to exhibit increased transparency in their decision-making and policies. Moreover, corruption remains notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute.”

“With the highly publicized scandal on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) involving high officials in the government and the controversies surrounding the President’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Filipinos have grown even more wary about the use of public funds,” TI added.

Meanwhile, amid the flood of humanitarian aid in cash and in kind for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, TI noted a “strong public clamor for transparency and accountability.”

It acknowledged that the government has established the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub to serve as a web portal for the public to monitor foreign assistance in response to calamities. But it added that, “there is still a need for concerted efforts to ensure that all humanitarian aid — whether foreign or local — is monitored properly.

“Managing humanitarian aid properly is crucial because people who have already suffered so much depend on them. Recent studies have shown that post-disaster reconstruction suffers from a high risk of corruption along with food aid and cash programming. We have to ensure that aid goes to the rightful beneficiaries and not politicized,” according to Dr. Cleo Calimbahin, executive director of Transparency International-Philippines.

Transparency International-Philippines is currently working with Transparency International’s Humanitarian Aid Initiative to set up an aid monitoring system and training

TI explained that the Corruption Perceptions Index updated its methodology in 2012. To reflect this, the CPI is presented on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The 2012 and 2013 scores and ranks cannot be compared with the scores in the 2011 CPI and earlier years.

For more information on the CPI 2013 results, log on to Transparency International or follow its Twitter account, #stopthecorrupt.

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