'Under Arroyo, a new scandal every week'
MANILA - A lack of political scandals and the replacement of top government officials linked to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are just some of the reasons why more Filipinos believe corruption has decreased, however slightly, under President Benigno Aquino III, a watchdog group said.
Transparency and Accountability Network executive director Vince Lazatin said he expected an improvement in the Philippines' ranking in the Global Corruption Barometer Survey after 9 years of the Arroyo administration.
"As far as the President and his administration is concerned, there is perhaps the perception that corruption has really been reduced especially when you contrast that to the levels of corruption perceived during the term of his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, where every week there was a new scandal. In the 3 years of the Aquino administration, no major scandal in terms of corruption has really broken out in his official family," he said in an ANC interview.
Lazatin said the government has shown seriousness in its attempts to improve transparency and hold people accountable.
He said the Department of Budget and Management is doing a lot to make sure that budget releases are done transparently. "He is putting more information on the Internet, on the Web, and that has contributed to a reduction of a certain amount of corruption," he said.
"Now there is a feeling that government will hold people accountable and the President has been known to publicly give scoldings to people under his watch. That needs to be done because it shows the President takes these things seriously," he added.
He also noted significant gains were made with the President's determination to remove two of the biggest obstacles to fighting corruption, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
"The two big stories in the last 2 years have been the removal of Chief Justice Corona of the Supreme Court and the removal of Mercy Gutierrez at the Ombudsman. I think these were two of the largest obstacles to fighting corruption in the country. They are not the only, by far, but they are the largest. I think the President's determination to have them removed, to me at least to my mind, really showed his commitment to daang matuwid," he said.
Lazatin said the improved perception does not mean that corruption has been eliminated under the Aquino administration. He said some Filipinos could still be facing situations of extortion from "kotong" cops or corrupt Bureau of Internal Revenue men.
He urged the Philippine National Police and the military to go after scalawag cops and corrupt Armed Forces officials.
Over a third of Filipinos perceive corruption in the country "decreased a little" over the last two years, based on a survey by Transparency International. This as nearly 70% of the respondents tagged the police as the most dishonest institution.
Based on the "Global Corruption Barometer", 35% of Filipino respondents have said corruption in the country went down "a little" in the past two years, while 31% argued the level of dishonesty "stayed the same".
But when asked how much of a problem corruption is in the public sector, majority or 64% said it is a "serious problem", while 19% just said it is "a problem".
Despite the push for "Tuwid na Daan", efforts in fighting corruption in the last two years were seen as "neither effective nor ineffective" by 31%, although some 31% claimed they had an impact in curbing dishonest practices in the system.
With regard to the most corrupt institutions according to perception, the police topped the list at 69%, followed by public officials and civil servants (64%), political parties (58%), the judiciary (56%), and parliament and legislature (52%).
The military was perceived as corrupt by 43% of the respondents, followed by education systems (32%), medical and health services (31%), the business sector (30%), non-governmental organizations (25%), religious bodies (15%), and the media (14%).
In the last year, 19% of the respondents said they paid a bribe to the police, 14% said they did the same for registry and permit services, another 11% claimed they did so for land services.
Bribing was also experienced when dealing with the judiciary (10%), tax revenue (7%), education services (6%), utilities (5%), and medical and health services (4%).
The survey covered 1,000 Filipinos across the country between September 2012 and March 2013. With a report from Kathleen Martin, ABS-CBNnews.com