MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) - Nearly half of Filipinos believe the Armed Forces of the Philippines is the most corrupt government agency right now, results of the latest Pulse Asia survey revealed Monday.
The survey, conducted from February 24 to March 6, 2011, showed that 48.9% of Filipinos believe that the military is the most corrupt government agency in the country right now. This is a far cry from Pulse Asia's February 2009 findings where only 8.1% of Filipinos said the AFP is corrupt.
In the 2011 survey, another 26.6% of Filipinos believe the Philippine National Police is the most corrupt while 18.2% believe the Department of Public Works and Highways is the most corrupt.
The survey was conducted at the height of the congressional investigations into the plea-bargaining agreement entered into by former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Comptroller Ret. Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, as well as the alleged corruption involving former high-ranking military officials per the testimonies of former AFP Budget Officer Ret. Lt. Col. George Rabusa and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza.
The leading government agencies that are considered least corrupt by Filipinos are the Department of Social Welfare and Development (10.5%), Department of Health (9.2%) and Department of Education (9.0%).
Fewer Filipinos now consider the Department of Education (DepEd) as the least corrupt government agency than in February 2009 (9% versus 20%).
High awareness of military corruption
The survey showed that about eight in ten Filipinos (81%) are aware of alleged corrupt practices in the military due to extensive media coverage of the congressional probes.
Six in ten Filipinos (60%) said the best thing to do as regards the alleged corrupt practices within the military is for the Senate and the House of Representatives to pursue their ongoing investigations into the matter. This option is favored by small to sizeable majorities across geographic areas (55% to 65%) and socio-economic classes (55% to 70%).
On the other hand, 33% of Filipinos think the matter is best left to the courts while less than one in ten (7%) holds the view that it is best to leave the matter alone since nothing will come out of any congressional investigation or court case anyway.
The survey showed that 22% of Filipinos believe former state auditor Heidi Mendoza as the most credible among 6 personalities involved in the probe, followed by former budget officer Rabusa with 19%.
Less than one in ten Filipinos considers the following former military officials as being the more credible personality in the issue of corruption in the AFP – former AFP Comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Carlos Garcia (5%), former AFP Comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot (2%), former AFP Chief of Staff Ret. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva (2%) and former AFP Chief of Staff Ret. Gen. Roy Cimatu (1%).
The survey fieldwork was conducted from Feb. 24 to March 6, 2011 using face-to-face interviews with a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level.
Corruption survey a challenge
Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban on Monday said he sees as a challenge the latest Pulse Asia survey that showed the military perceived as the most corrupt institution in government.
Interviewed in Camp Aguinaldo, Oban said the findings were merely based on perceptions made by the people amid the ongoing congressional inquiry on corruption in the military.
“It’s a perception. Perhaps, we still have to enlighten more the public about what the Armed Forces has done and what it is doing right now and what we intend to do later on in terms of blueprint for reforms,” he said.
Oban stressed that the military has started its reform initiatives to combat corruption in the military as early as 2000 or three years before authorities uncovered the corrupt activities of former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carolos Garcia.
“We’d like to look at this more of a challenge, a motivation for the entire institution to have an aggressive step towards reforming the Armed Forces, particularly in the area of financial management and procurement,” said Oban.
He said that after the short-lived Oakwood mutiny was launched by the Magdalo Group in July 2003, the military again initiated reforms based on the recommendations of the Feliciano commission that looked into the military adventurism.
After the discovery of the Garcia corruption case in 2003, the military leadership also took steps to reform itself, including the abolition of the office of the AFP deputy chief of staff for logistics and reorganization of the military.
“Basically even before that (Garcia case), I want to say that we initiated reforms,” said Oban.