I recently came upon a Facebook post on the official site of a mutual fund in the country that went:
“BRIGHT NEWS ALERT: PH is the 85th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2014 Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International.”
That stopped me on my track. You might brand me as someone who looks at the glass as always half-empty, but I cannot help but tag this headline as mere sugarcoating. After all, no mutual fund company would dare post a negative story about the country it works in.
Let’s face it: Although there had been small improvements here and there throughout the years, the Philippines still has a long way to go before it hits the standard of the #1 least corrupt country: Denmark or—nearer to home—New Zealand (#2).
To ease this nagging feeling, I dug more details on the results from Transparency International.
Okay, to start with, let me just underscore that this is a perception index, where the public sector of each country is given a score from 0 to 100.
Let’s put the Philippines’ ranking in context here by looking at its raw score:
- Out of 175 countries, 69% scored below 50.
- Out of the 175 countries, the average country score was 43.
- The Philippines got a rating of 38 out of a possible 100 in 2014. (Well, we haven’t reached the average score, have we?)
- The changes in the Philippines’ score were insignificant in the last three years: 34 in 2012, 36 in 2013; and 38 in 2014.
- Among our ASEAN neighbors, Singapore is the cleanest at 84. South Korea and Malaysia outscore the Philippines as well.
Globally, corruption exist. Not just in the Philippines. But the key issue here is: Has a country done enough to improve people’s perceptions?
To be fair to our own public sector, its corruption does not exist in a vacuum. I mean, surely, there are outside factors that fuel corruption, whether in the government or outside. Here, I list my theories on the top reasons corruption endures:
- There are corrupt public officials simply because there are violators in the private sectors who will not think twice of weaseling their way out of their sticky situation by hook or by crook. Think tax evaders or tax under payers.
- There are corrupt officials because they can smell from afar their ideal victims: those desperate enough to agree on anything for some small change; those who are too naïve about their rights; and those who do not have the patience to go through red tapes.
- When an agency has too much power to freely interpret a rule for its own interest, beware!
- Corruption and bribery persist because some regulators do not have the guts to implement the rules consistently.
- Corruption and bribery persist because some regulators are too incompetent to implement the rules consistently.
- There are corrupt workers because they are confident that very few people in their midst would squeal.
- There are corrupt workers because they know that there is someone who is watching their back as they perform their dirty tricks.
- There are corrupt workers because the agencies that are supposed to act as the check and balance are brought down on their knees by either the threats, wheeling and dealings, and the sweet offers from all sides.
- There is corruption when the benefits from the act far outweigh the penalty when caught.
- There are corrupt workers because their peers have weirdly defined ‘pakikisama’ as a synonym for collusion.
How about you? What do you think are other reasons corruption persists all these years?