WITHIN the next few weeks, Transparency International will release its annual corruption league table for 2018. Over the past 10 years, the Philippines has seen its position moving from a low of 134th, corresponding to the latter part of GMA’s presidency, to a high of 85th under the first half of the Aquino administration.
The second half of Aquino’s presidency and the first year of Duterte’s term resulted in a slow slide culminating to 111th in 2017. The reaction of President Duterte to last year’s result was mature. He accepted the information without demur, expressing the view that he disliked corruption in whatever form.
Last week’s reports from the House of Representatives were disappointing. It seems that there are some congressmen who actively seek disbursement of public funds to be undertaken in such a way as to create significant corruption opportunities. We deplore this attitude.
If we are to have less corruption, then we must have fewer corruption opportunities.
The Constitution is clear about this. The responsibility for making the Nation a cleaner and therefore fairer society lies primarily with the Office of the Ombudsman who is tasked to:
“Determine the causes of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement, fraud, and corruption in the Government and make recommendations for their elimination and the observance of high standards of ethics and efficiency.” As far as we know, the Ombudsman is not fulfilling this responsibility.
Pork barrel creation is a manifest cause of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement, fraud, and corruption. It should and can be eliminated.
Taxpayers are entitled to expect the Ombudsman’s office to carry out this task.
Countries which are near the top of the corruption league table have introduced systems where elected representatives are expected to make representations on behalf of their constituents for improved infrastructure, but where there is no need for the representatives to handle money or to get involved with the paraphernalia associated with road projects, for example.
We repeat: Eliminating corruption is helped by eliminating corruption opportunities.
President Duterte can enhance his legacy by being a transformational president who greatly reduced corruption.
Although the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent entity, there is no reason why it cannot receive, and act upon, orders from the President.
I hope this materializes.
Disclosure: The writer was formerly Senior Assignment Officer of the Corruption Prevention Department, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong./PN