AFP tops most corrupt list—Pulse

Published by rudy Date posted on March 29, 2011

Too many Filipinos may be turning cynical, going by the latest release of Pulse Asia on corruption, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) now topping the list of “most corrupt” government agencies, with the military seen by almost five out of every two Filipinos (48.9 percent) as the most corrupt government agency.

Worse, even the whistle-blowers and the accused are now seen as “not credible,” with the highest “credibility” ranking at only 22 percent.

The skyrocketing of the perception of corruption on the AFP was seen as startling, since the AFP in a February 2009 poll had only an 8.1 percent rating, jumping to a rating of close to a majority number.

Close to the heels of the AFP in corruption is the Philippine National Police (PNP), with 26.6 percent of Filipinos considering it as the most corrupt government agency, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which is identified as most corrupt by 18.2 percent of Filipinos. Between February 2009 and March 2011, there is a decline in the percentage of Filipinos who perceive the DPWH as the most corrupt government agency in the country (-13.8 percentage points).

In addition, 16 percent of Filipinos do not any identify any government agency as most corrupt while 10 percent say either that they do not know which government agency is most corrupt or refused to respond to the probe.

Even more suprising is that nearly half of Filipinos (47 percent) consider several personalities involved in the issue of military corruption to be equally not believable.

Pulse Asia said that “None of six personalities involved in the issue of military corruption – whether as accuser or accused – is able to clearly establish his/her credibility with practically one in two Filipinos (47 percent) saying all these individuals are equally not believable. Of the six personalities included in this probe, 22 percent identify former Commission on Audit (CoA) Auditor Heidi Mendoza as being more credible that the others while 19 percent say the same thing of former AFP Budget Officer Lt. Col. Rabusa.

Less than one in 10 Filipinos considers the following former military officials as being the more credible personality in the issue of corruption in the AFP – former AFP Comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Carlos Garcia (5 percent), former AFP Comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot (2 percent ), former AFP Chief of Staff Ret. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva (2 percent) and former AFP Chief of Staff Ret. Gen. Roy Cimatu (1 percent).

Across geographic areas (41 percent to 52 percent) and socio-economic classes (44 percent to 52 percent ), big pluralities to small majorities say all six personalities are equally not believable. An exception is in Metro Manila where essentially the same percentages either express the same sentiment (36 percent ) or consider former CoA Auditor Mendoza to be the more credible personality involved in the issue of military corruption.

The overall level of public awareness regarding the alleged corruption in the military is high (81 percent), due in part to the extensive media coverage of the alleged corrupt practices within the military.

Most Filipinos (60 percent) prefer that congressional hearings on alleged corruption in the military continue. For six in 10 Filipinos (60 percent), the best thing to do with regard to the alleged corrupt practices within the military is for the Senate and the House of Representatives to pursue their ongoing investigations into the matter. Respondents numbering 33 percent think the matter is best left to the courts while less than one in 10 (7 percent) holds the view that it is best to leave the matter alone since nothing will come out of any congressional investigation or court case anyway.

The AFP said it is challenged by dismal survey results and earning the tag of the “most corrupt” government agency.

While AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. did not dispute the findings of the latest Pulse Asia survey, he stressed that such is a mere perception.

“It would seem that the perception of the public is that the AFP is corrupt  but we’d like to look at this more of a challenge, a motivation for the entire institution to have an aggressive step towards reforming the Armed Forces particularly in the area of financial management and procurement,” said Oban.

Asked if such public perception is fair, Oban replied “as I said it’s a perception perhaps we still have to really enlighten more the public about what the Armed Forces has done and what it is doing right now and what we intend to do later on in terms of blueprint for reforms.”

For his part, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSP) Secretary Ramon Carandang said it’s a continuing challenge for the administration to change the public’s perception on the issue of corruption in the military.

Pulse Asia’s findings apparently reflect the administration’s failure in curbing corruption which was supposed to be Aquino’s priority given his campaign slogan of “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (where there is no corruption, there is no poverty).

“We noticed that the public is already becoming cynical when it comes to issues of corruption. That is why we also find it difficult to fight corruption, first of all, there are so many barriers in the way. Secondly, the public has become so skeptical about it. I think the only way you can reverse that sentiment is to actually show results of our reforms… We hope that as we show more results, we will be able to change the public’s mind,” Carandang said.

“We understand why the public will think that, because it was in the headlines, but we do not want to condemn the entire AFP because of a few very bad eggs. Another thing, I also want to note on the positive side because previously, the DPWH was considered as the most corrupt and somehow, the public’s view on the DPWH has improved. They’re no longer considered as most corrupt and I think we have to give credit to Secretary [Rogelio] Singson for the reforms that he’s undertaking in the DPWH,” said Carandang.

Meanwhile, it will be a day of reckoning for former AFP comptroller Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda in purging themselves of what Senate probers earlier declared as contemptuous acts and in which the former is being made to suffer by holding him in detention at the upper chamber since Thursday.

The chairman of the blue ribbon committee, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona, yesterday called for the reconvening of the panel today to continue its inquiry on the issue of corruption in the military.

The Ligot couple are among those summoned anew by the committee along with former budget officers in the AFP, Lt. Col. (ret.) George Rabusa and Perla Valerio, former deputy budget officer Col. Antonio Ramon Lim and former comptroller of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) Col. Cirilo Thomas Donato Jr.

Ligot, who remains under Senate custody and secured by the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA), was cited in contempt along with his wife during last week’s committee hearing as they were found to have been “falsely” claimed of their respective sickness, the reason they have given to excuse themselves from the proceedings.

Ligot’s wife was spared due to “humanitarian” considerations as she is said to be suffering from some health problems.

In the commitment order, the couple were cited in contempt for “not appearing despite due notice at the hearing of the committee on 24 March 2011 and for causing his counsel to send a letter to the com seeking excuse for his absence due to alleged illness which has turned out to be a falsity thereby delaying, impeding and obstructing the inquiry into alleged irregularities in the AFP and for refusing to testify.” –Mario J. Mallari with Aytch S. Dela Cruz and Angie M. Rosales, Daily Tribune

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