By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

FORMER senior military and police officers and government officials on Tuesday urged the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to boost its anti-corruption efforts.

In a Philippine Star ad, the retired officials who called their group the Advocates for National Interest said they support the president’s call to “tighten checks and balances” to ensure public funds are not stolen.

They cited the need for legislation that would outlaw political dynasties and push electoral reforms to reduce vote-buying and “money politics.”

“Any country dreaming of one day becoming peaceful, strong and respected must once and for all slay the monster that is corruption,” they said.

They also said public funds are often used for personal gain, depriving Filipinos of basic government services.

“We believe that addressing these societal dysfunctions — corruption, poverty and injustice — will require good governance by elected and appointed officials imbued with integrity, intelligence and competence.”

The Philippines ranked 116th  out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index released on Feb. 1.

The country’s score remained unchanged at 33 out of 100 in a scale that measures perceived levels of corruption in the public sector. A score of 100 shows that a country is “very clean,” while a zero means it is “highly corrupt.” 

The Philippine score was below the global average of 43 and the Asia-Pacific region’s average of 45.

The watchdog said democracy has been declining in some of the world’s most populous countries including the Philippines, India and Bangladesh.

Maria Ela L. Atienza, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines, said it is difficult to expect good governance from an administration that is led by someone from a prominent political dynasty.

“If retired generals and former government officials can articulate their experiences, then there could be a wider pressure for better governance, accountability, strong and capable institutions and greater substantive democratization,” she said in a Viber message. “There must be more multisectoral efforts and pressure to effect change.”

Ms. Atienza said the Philippines suffers from weak political parties and accountability mechanisms that lead to poor government service.

“People and institutions will continue to be inclined toward supporting corruption or turning a blind eye when a culture of special treatment and favors are given economic or procedural value,” Hansley A. Juliano, a political economy researcher studying at Japan’s Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development in Japan, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“What they call for is very straightforward and consistent with good governance advocacy,” he added.

“Corruption first festers, and is most corrosive in public office,” the retired officials said. “It is most damaging when perpetrated against the public coffers.”