Critics: Weak integrity grade reflects Noy’s empty vows

Published by rudy Date posted on May 6, 2011

The effort against corruption was rated the weakest under the administration of President Aquino during the three years since 2007 that the Washington-based think tank Global Integrity held its surveys, with the Philippines receiving an overall “very weak” grade of an average 57 percent, a rating that his critics said mimicked his empty anti-graft rhetorics.

The dismal rating for 2010 came from a moderate or a 71 percent average in 2008, and a weak or 67 percent average in 2007. Global Integrity did not hold a survey in 2009.

Members of the House minority said the ratings plunge proves that the Aquino government is losing heavily on its anti-corruption drive despite its “high profile” campaign on “good governance and less corruption” as embodied in its battle cry, “walang mahirap kung walang corrupt” (No corruption, no poverty).

Global Integrity said its report, rather than measure perceptions of corruption, assesses the accountability mechanisms and transparency measures of a country to prevent corruption through more than 300 “Integrity Indicators” as well as journalistic reporting of corruption.

It noted that the overall score of the Philippines has significantly decreased, primarily as a result of a widening gap between its laws and their actual implementation.

“While anti-corruption legislation is strong, the anti-corruption agency does not have the ability to effectively deliver on its remit,” it said.

Political financing is an area of weakness and the disclosure of political finance records, as well as enforcing conflicts of interest safeguards, are a particular concern, it added.

The report noted that even though the country’s supreme audit institution or the Commission on Audit (CoA) is adequately resourced, citizens cannot access its reports, which brings into question its transparency and accountability function.

“The testimonies of recent whistle-blowers reveal that there is a culture of omerta within the supreme audit institution with whistle-blowers risking ostracism or physical harm. Political interference is rampant in the country’s insufficiently-funded law enforcement agency,” it said.

In the survey, the Philippines rated high on transparency in government procurement, budget process oversight, anti-corruption law, oversight of state enterprises, but it failed miserably on the issues of political financing transparency, conflicts of interest safeguards and checks and balances in the Executive branch, and public requests for government information.

According to House Minority Leader, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the latest Global Integrity validates the previous finding of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, Ltd. (PERC) that the Philippines’ corruption rating worsened to 8.9 from 8.25 in a scale of one to 10 in a survey covering the period from November 2010 to February 2011.

“The Aquino administration’s high profile” campaign on “good governance and less corruption is lacking in substance and performance,” Lagman said.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay agreed with Lagman as she noted that Aquino’s “daang matuwid” (stright path) has not achieved anything because its efforts are mainly all propaganda.

“Its all press releases and propaganda but in actuality corruption was not curbed. Have they curbed anything? What reform had the administration introduced in the bureacracy? He (Aquino) has not done anything, there’s nothing,” Magsaysay said

Magsaysay and Lagman also scored the proposal of Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda “for a good news website” saying that what is important is that the people will see and feel the good news that their lives are improving in this administration.

The best proof on the battle against corruption, Magsaysay said is once the people feel it and see the improvements with their two eyes.

“No amount of messaging can boost President Aquino’s ratings if the message being imparted has no substance. Positive action to problems is the key. As long as Mr. Aquino continues to be deaf and blind to the people’s needs and problems, his ratings will go down even more. What a disappointment!” she said.

Lagman, for his part, said the “good news website” as proposed to reverse Aquino’s dwindling performance ratings “will either be an empty page for dearth of heart-warming stories or a perjured page of conjured good news.” –Charlie V. Manalo, Daily Tribune

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