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INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION CONFERENCE (IACC)
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The 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference

The Papers


The Case of the Philippines
(UNDP Programme for Accountability and Transparency and the OECD Development Centre on Comparative Country Case Studies in Anti- Corruption)


Since 1986 (fall of Marcos), fight against corruption is high on the political agenda.

Today corruption remains a major issue, and the perception of corruption is high:

  • International perception
  • Internal perception
  • SWS, Sept. 98: Only 9% of the respondents to this survey on corruption believed that:
  • "there is no corruption in the government at present".

Causes

Economic:

  • Transition from an economy of rents, with role of the State that continues to be important

Political:

  • local bossism, the existence of local fiefdoms and the plunder of public resources
  • tradition of political dynasties (non renewal of the political elite)
  • rigged elections followed by shifts of party allegiance after each Presidential election

Consequences

  • High-level corruption (misallocation of resources and posts)
  • Bureaucratic corruption (probably aggrieved by strict Salary Standardization Act)

Anti-corruption Initiatives in the Philippines

Government: the "legal route"

  • Traditions of a litigious society
  • Multiplication of laws and institutions aiming at curbing corruption and increasing transparency.
  • Poor records of these institutions epitomized by the PCGG which didn't succeed in recovering Marcos wealth.
  • Despite attempts at coordinating activities, overlaps creating delays and inefficiencies

Detection of Corruption

Commission on Audit:

  • promising innovations like Government Purchases Information System (computer-based system that provides participating agencies information on the lowest prices of material and supplies)
  • initiatives towards a full use of its mandate (first audit of the Bureau of Internal Revenue)

However:

  • limited funding, which impairs efficiency and
  • coverage.

Ombudsman:

  • Broad mandate (including unique prosecution power)
  • Interesting initiatives: resident ombudsmen dealing with "graft-prone agencies" and involvement of civil society (JGU and CPU)

However:

  • negative perception linked with inadequate process of staffing and involvement of the office in controversies
  • overworked and understaffed, and not many results in resolution of cases

Sandiganbayan

  • Special court for cases involving graft and corrupt practices

However:

    24% of the terminated cases are "archived": accused could not be found
  • reversal of some convictions by SC

Generally, judiciary

  • poor funding
  • huge delays
  • perceived as highly corrupt (Supreme Court judges involved in corruption scandals)

The Difficulty of Launching Structural Reforms

Economic Reforms

  • Governmental commitment since 1986 towards liberalization and decrease of the control of the State on the economy
  • But oppositions slow down the process:
  • Internal political opposition
  • And/or rank-and-files opposition

Public service reform:

  • Broad reform program encounters political opposition

Non-governmental Initiatives

  • Strong tradition of civil society mobilisation and advocacy
  • Not fully tapped to demand accountability and transparency

Strongest component:

  • The freest media in Asia, which have continuously exposed malfeasance in government
  • Also perceived as corrupt
  • Lack of follow-up on corruption reports

Conclusion for the Fight Against Corruption in the Philippines

Corruption and the political capacity to fight it:

Necessity

  • to fight electoral corruption
  • to implement the constitutional provisions on nepotism
  • to eliminate the discretionary parliamentarian funds (pork barrels).

Shortcomings of the legal route

Need for sustaining structural reforms towards:

  • simplification of the rules
  • access to information
  • further liberalization of the economy

Need to structure the civil society demand for accountability (high literacy)

Importance of a role model - leadership by example

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