'Moderate' risk of corruption seen in Philippine defense sector: watchdog

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2021 08:41 PM

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Presidential Photo/File
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana gives an update to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting at the Malacañang Palace on Oct. 6, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA — The Philippine defense sector faces "moderate" risk of corruption, an international watchdog said, evoking Malacañang's promise of a "relentless drive to have a clean, strong and responsive government."

Based on Transparency International’s Government Defense Integrity Index, which assesses the quality of institutional controls to manage the risk of corruption, the Philippine defense sector scored a C rating that is equivalent to “moderate” risk.

"Institutional resilience to corruption is modest across the Philippines’ defense institutions," the watchdog said, citing data collected between December 2019 and November 2021. 

"Oversight of policy-making and procurement by parliament is particularly weak and transparency remains limited throughout the sector, including with regards to financial management. Nevertheless, corruption risk mitigation is relatively robust in military operation," it added. 

Palace acting spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles noted the Philippine rating was similar to that of some 20 countries, which included Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. 

He credited the Philippines' relatively robust corruption risk mitigation to President Rodrigo Duterte's "zero tolerance against allegations of official malfeasance."

Nograles noted Duterte relieved officials over alleged corruption at a military hospital in 2018. The President also announced the dismissal of 261 and suspension of 187 government officials and employees from November 2020 to June 2021, Nograles added. 

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He added that a system of management "institutionalizes the judicious and efficient use of resources in our defense acquisitions to ensure transparency and accountability in the procurement process."

Duterte also "raised the level of professionalism" of the military by promoting troops' welfare so they can focus on their mandate, said Nograles. 

"This relentless drive to have a clean, strong and responsive government will continue until the remainder of the President’s term," he said. 

Duterte steps down in June next year. His campaign promises in the lead-up to the 2016 elections included curbing corruption and crimes.