PERCEPTIONS within the business community that there is “a lot of corruption” in the government rose in 2013, reflecting “some disappointment” over government’s avowed campaign to stamp out corruption, according to the yearly Survey of Enterprises on Corruption.
The survey, conducted by the Social Weather Stations among 951 small, medium, and large enterprises in Metro Manila and six other cities, however gave the Executive Branch a rating of Excellent, with significant drops in the ratings of the two chambers of Congress. The third branch of government, in the form of the Supreme Court, registered an uptick from Moderate in 2012 to Good in 2013.
“May kaunting disappointment siguro ang mga companies na hindi kasing galing ng last year,” said SWS president Mahar Mangahas. (There is some disappointment among the companies that the fight against corruption is not as good as last year’s.)
The survey showed that those seeing “a lot” of corruption in the public sector rose from 43 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2013. At the same time those who said they had personal knowledge of public sector corruption in the last three months also rose from 33 percent in 2012 to 38 percent in 2013.
Mangahas however said the figures must be seen in the context of the entire 11 years that the survey had been conducted. He said that while perception of corruption increased last year, it was still the “second-lowest” since 2000, when the surveys first came out. (Please see SWS Table) Also, Mangahas said that corruption perceptions were at their record low in 2012, the same year that former Supreme Court Chief Renato Corona was impeached and convicted.
“Baka umangat ang expectations nila, so na tone down ng kaunti,” Mangahas said. (Perhaps their expectations had risen, so it was toned down a bit.)
Corruption perception was at its highest in 2001, the year that former President Joseph Estrada was ousted over charges of corruption (77%) The trend continued throughout the term of President Gloria Arroyo, playing from 60-67% until the 2012 survey, when corruption perceptions dropped to an all-time low of 43 percent.
The businessmen were also asked to rate the sincerity of 24 government institutions in fighting corruption. In this survey, the office of the President was given a rating of Excellent (+70 and above) while the Departments of Trade and Industry, Health, Social Welfare and Development, and the Social Security System were rated as Very Good.
Those given ratings of Good were the Departments of Education, Labor, Justice, and the Supreme Court. Those considered Moderates were city governments, Ombudsman, the Department of Interior, SandiganBayan, and Commission on Audit. Neutral ratings were given to the trial courts, the
Department of Budget and Management, Department of Transportation and Communication, Commission on Elections, Department of nvironment and Natural Resources, and the Senate. Those who registered Poor were the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Public Works, Philippine National Police, and the House of Representatives. The Land Transportation Office was given a Bad rating.
The Senate received the largest downgrade, dropping by two levels from Good in 2012 with a +36 rating, to Neutral (-8) in 2013. The Senate convicted impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. In 2013, several prominent Senators had been implicated in a scandal involving the misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), otherwise known as the pork barrel.
For the House of Representatives, the chamber went from a Neutral (-6) in 2012 to Poor (-28) in 2013.
Table from SWS
Managahas said the ratings was a message to the legislative branch to improve its image. “It is more the legislative than the executive, the legislative has to join in the fight against corruption,” Mangahas said.
Asked if the pork barrel scandal had anything to do with the drop in the ratings, Mangahas said that the SWS did not ask the respondents if they had changed their rating from the previous year, or why they changed the rating . “Everyone has to do their own historical anaylsis, we do not ask people if they change their rating,” he said.
The bottom placer in the sincerity rating was the Bureau of Customs, whose head, former Rep. Rufie Biazon, was recently replaced. The Customs bureau was given a rating of Very Bad (-63) from Bad (-46) in 2012.
The SWS also found stronger support from the business community for the long-delayed Freedom of Information bill that is still pending before Congress. Eightyeight percent of the respondents said that corruption will be reduced by the passage of an FOI law, up from 78 percent in 2012.
Despite the drop in the ratings, the SWS says that business expectations for the next two years have in fact reached a record high of 76 percent, from 74 percent in 2012.
The survey was conducted among 951 businesses from July 31 to November 29, 2013, mainly through face-to-face interviews with executives. A third of the respondents were from large enterprises, while two thirds came from small and medium scale enterprises. The survey was done in cooperation with Australian Aid and the Asia Foundation.
The full survey results may be downloaded from the SWS website here.