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Philippines improves in corruption survey

Posted on December 02, 2011

PERCEPTION of corruption in the Philippines has eased from last year due to the Aquino administration’s campaign for good governance, global civil society group Transparency International said in its latest rankings published yesterday.

The Philippines placed 129th out of 183 territories in the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index which ranks such jurisdictions based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.

Last year, the country ranked 134th out of 178 territories.

In Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines ranked 25th out of 35.

The study, covering the period December 2009 to September 2011, scored territories on a scale of 0-10, with 0 indicating the jurisdiction concerned is perceived as highly corrupt and 10 meaning it is deemed very clean.

The Philippines got a score of 2.6 this year, an improvement from the 2.4 garnered last year, the index showed.

“We have inched our way up which is good, since we have been plateauing in previous years. But, there is still a lot of room for improvement,” Transparency International-Philippines (TI-P) board member Araceli Estrada-Villanueva said during the press conference yesterday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.

At the top of the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index were: New Zealand (9.5), Denmark (9.4), Finland (9.4), Sweden (9.3), Singapore (9.2), Norway (9.0), Netherlands (8.9), Australia (8.8), Switzerland (8.8) and Canada (8.7).

Rounding up the bottom of the list were: Burundi (1.9), Equatorial Guinea (1.9), Venezuela (1.9), Haiti (1.8), Iraq (1.8), Sudan (1.6), Turkmenistan (1.6), Uzbekistan (1.6), Afghanistan (1.5), Myanmar (1.5), and lastly, North Korea (1.0) and Somalia (1.0).

More than two-thirds of the territories in the survey scored below five, but significant gains have nonetheless been posted, the report noted.

“In 2011, we saw the movement for greater transparency take on irresistible momentum, as citizens around the world demanded accountability from their governments. High-scoring countries show that, over time, efforts to improve transparency can, if sustained, be successful and befit their people,” Transparency International Managing Director Cobus de Swardt said in the report.

“This year, we have seen corruption on protestors’ banners, be they rich or poor. Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government,” Transparency International Chairperson Huguette Labelle added.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is a composite index based on assessments and opinion surveys carried out by independent institutions.

The Philippines’ ranking was based on 12 studies: the Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Assessment, the Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, IMD World Competitiveness Year Book 2010 and 2011, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2010 and 2011, the Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide, the Transparency International Bribe Payers Survey, the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey 2010 and 2011, and the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index.

The surveys studied issues such as bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement and embezzlement of funds. They also looked into enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest in the government, TI-P President Georgina R. Encanto said in the briefing.

Ms. Encanto attributed the Philippines’ improved performance to the Aquino administration’s agenda of good governance, complemented by initiatives of civil society, business community and the private sector.

“To improve the country’s score, the general public must see results and experience clean governance in their everyday lives -- results manifested in concrete efforts such as convictions of high-level corruption cases, compliance to the Anti-Red Tape Act, passage of the Freedom of Information Act and the enactment of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Law, among many others,” TI-P Chairperson Dolores L. Espanol said.

For his part, National Competitiveness Council private sector co-chairman Guillermo M. Luz welcomed the results, highlighting the importance of transparency in the economy.

“Good governance is good economics,” he explained in a telephone interview yesterday.

“When you have greater transparency, you build trust in the system. More investors want to participate in projects, leading to better quality of goods, services and jobs for the people.”

For example, Indonesia focused on stamping out corruption in the last five years and, as a result, it has attracted the most foreign direct investments (FDI) in the region, Mr. Luz noted, adding that country expects this year to record its highest FDI level yet.