This book is for those who are interested in corruption, whether they are journalists, activists, government officials, academics, researchers, or plain concerned citizens. What you have in your hand is a how-to manual, a practical guide intended for those who wish to understand how corruption takes place and the damage it has wrought. It is also for those who want to venture beyond understanding to doing actual investigations of corrupt acts and officials.
Investigating corruption requires skill, patience, and a nose for wrongdoing. This manual is intended to make the task less daunting and to provide a map for those who are embarking on the effort. It is hard to navigate blindly the corridors of power and malfeasance. This book was written with the certainty that with a manual such as this, even first-timers can take on the task. It is our hope that the numerous examples contained in this book of how wrongdoing has been unraveled will inspire others to do their own investigations.
The chapters in this volume were written in such a way that they can be read in any order,
depending on what readers are interested in or on what they are looking for. The first chapter provides a broad overview, based largely on the existing literature on the definition, types, and consequences of corruption. The chapter also provides a listing of what Philippine laws define as corrupt acts. Those who want more practical advice on investigating corruption can skip Chapter 1, but they should know that a grasp of legal and academic definitions as well as a grounding in the academic literature can help set the direction for probing.
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 describe the techniques that can be used for investigating corruption in the public sector. These techniques are based largely on the experience of journalists who have worked on corruption investigations for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Chapter 2 is an overview of investigative strategies; Chapter 3 describes the techniques that can be used for investigating officials; and Chapter 4 looks at the sources - human and documentary - that can be tapped for corruption investigations. Many of the investigations cited in these chapters are contained in the PCIJ's anthology, Betrayals of the Public Trust: Investigative Reports on Corruption. Published in 2000, the book describes how the authors of the reports included in the collection investigated wrongdoing, and is therefore a handy companion for this manual.
Chapter 5 lists the various ways in which corruption has been measured by survey groups, governments, donor agencies, and NGOs. This chapter is useful for readers with a statistical bent or for those who want to arrive at an estimate of the scale and cost of corruption. The chapter explains in detail the different methods used to measure corruption, including methods that can be used by researchers, journalists, and citizens' groups who can invest only modest staff and financial resources in the effort.
Chapters 6 to 8 examine corruption in specific sectors. Each chapter starts out with an overview of the functions and structure of a sector before going on to explain how corruption has taken place there and how malfeasance has been investigated by journalists and researchers as well as official bodies.
Chapter 6 explains the complex issue of public procurement or how national and local government units purchase goods and services and contract out public works. The chapter describes the procedures followed in government procurement and shows how corrupt contractors and bureaucrats have gone around these procedures to steal public funds. The chapter also lists the "red flags," the signs that indicate that bribery is likely taking place and that investigators should look out for when probing government contracts and purchases.
Chapter 7 describes the structure of the Philippine judicial system and provides tips on investigating corruption in the courts. Chapter 8 does the same for the environment sector and lists guide questions for investigating corruption in the environment.
Chapters 9 and 10 describe the efforts being undertaken to curb corruption. Chapter 9 looks at all the government bodies that are tasked with investigating and prosecuting corruption in the public sector. This is useful for those who wish to know which government agency is responsible for probing the corrupt act or official they are interested in, the powers of this agency, and the way in which it is structured. Finally, Chapter 10 describes the work of nongovernmental groups in campaigning for good governance, researching corruption, and probing malfeasance.
Because each chapter was written with the idea that it can be read independently of the others, acronyms are spelled out and the complete names of individuals and agencies are given the first time they are used. Readers who go through the entire book will find that there are some repetitions, as the writers do not presume that those who read, say, Chapter 6 had already gone through Chapter 3. There are also natural overlaps in the sections: Chapter 3, for example, describes lifestyle and asset checks as one way of investigating officials. Asset checks are also tackled in Chapter 5, as they are one way of measuring the scale of corruption. To make it easier for readers, however, each chapter has references (enclosed in square brackets and italicized) to other sections and chapters in the book where the same subject is tackled. At the end of this volume, there is a list of the books, articles, and other reference material that were used in writing each chapter.
This is a manual, after all, and it is designed to make it easy for users to find what they want. For this reason, the headers on each page indicate the section in the chapter to which that page belongs, while the notations on the right or left margin of every page indicate the chapter title. In addition, the main sections in each chapter are listed in the table of contents.
Investigating Corruption was designed to be user friendly. We hope it is really so.
Sheila S. Coronel