MANILA - Corruption “is a problem that cannot be solved overnight,” Malacañang stressed Friday after the Philippines ranked its lowest in a global corruption index in 5 years.
The Philippines placed 111th out of 180 countries surveyed in 2017, with a score of 34 out of 100, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The last time the country scored as low was in 2012.
In 2016, the country ranked 101st with a score of 35.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the administration is taking the report “seriously.” Getting rid of corruption is among President Rodrigo Duterte's promises during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Fighting corruption needs everyone’s cooperation. The government cannot do it alone. Citizens must be vigilant and report corruption,” Roque said in a statement.
Countries with the least protection for the press and non-government organizations tend to have the worst rates of corruption, said Transparency International, which analyzed the CPI rankings.
"The analysis, which incorporates data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, shows that in the last 6 years, more than 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the index," it said.
Roque, however, disagreed with the report, which said the Philippines is "among the worst regional offenders" when it comes to threats against or murder of journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies.
“There is no truth that we have [less] press freedom. Our media are still able to broadcast and print or publish what they want – fake news included. Filipinos are free to air their grievances with the President, even declaring an unprecedented Day of Protest,” Roque said in a statement.
He also noted that President Rodrigo Duterte created a task force on media killings to ensure the protection of journalists.
“Per the record of the task force, all murder cases involving journalists during the Duterte administration have been solved,” Roque said.
“In addition, public officials who threatened media workers have been ‘red flagged’ to show that we work without fear or favor.”
Earlier this week, Malacañang barred journalist Pia Ranada of news website Rappler from entering Palace grounds, citing the Securities and Exchange Commission's ruling revoking its incorporation papers over alleged violation of foreign ownership regulations.
Philippine press freedom watchdogs, however, said the task force considers the killing of Catanduanes News publisher Larry Que as the only work-related media killing in the country since Duterte assumed office, even as it reported other cases of attacks on the press.
Roque, meanwhile, cited Duterte’s move to eradicate corruption in government.
He said Duterte has fired many government officials, including members of the Cabinet, even on a “whiff of corruption.”
The President also issued an executive order creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and opened citizens' complaint hotline 8888, Roque said.