SWS: Businessmen find gov’t less corrupt

(UPDATED) The 'most radical change' in fighting corruption comes from the Office of the President, the SWS says at the second Integrity Summit

'LESS CORRUPT.' Businessmen perceive government to be less corrupt under President Benigno Aquino III. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Aquino administration has made “radical” progress in reforming the government after fewer businessmen reported “a lot” of corruption in the public sector, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said at the second Integrity Summit on Tuesday, September 18.

Executives who saw “a lot” of corruption in the public sector fell to 42% in 2012 from 64% in 2009, the SWS said in its 2012 Survey of Enterprises on Corruption. 

SWS president Mahar Mangahas presented the survey results at the summit aiming to intensify the drive “for a culture of integrity.” Before Mangahas, President Benigno Aquino III delivered a speech to trumpet his administration’s gains in fighting corruption.

CORRUPTION'S EXTENT. It's the Philippine government's best rating since this survey began in 2000. Screen grab of SWS graph

In the survey, the SWS noted that the level of perceived public sector corruption remained at 60% or more since the first such survey in 2000. The government’s rating under this category, then, is the best it has gotten in over a decade.

The survey firm said the “most radical change” came from the Office of the President, which respondents rated for net sincerity in fighting corruption. Under Aquino, the Office of the President’s rating rose to “excellent” or +81 under this category in 2012, from “bad” or -37 in 2009. 

Other indicators showed the following:

  • “Those who claim that ‘most/almost all’ companies in their own sector give bribes to win public sector contracts fell to 41% in 2012 from 48% in 2009

  • “Those with personal knowledge of corruption happening in the last three months in their own sector fell to 32% in 2012 from 37% in 2009

  • “When executives compare the present administration to the past one, 71% see less corruption now, and only 2% see more corruption now. When the general public compared the two administrations in an SWS national survey on May 24-27, 64% saw less, and only 5% saw more, corruption now”

On high-profile cases such as those against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, and former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos, most executives see the cases as “being conducted fairly, but at too slow a pace.”

Meanwhile, executive see less corruption in the private than in the public sector, the SWS said. But “the situation is also serious, and has not improved.” “The tendency of companies in their own sector to give bribes to win private contracts is more or less unchanged,” the pollster noted.

The SWS said the report was preliminary, and was based on interviews with executives of 826 companies – 281 of these large, and 545 small and medium – from July 16 to September 14. (Read the summary of the survey below.) 

SWS: 2012 Survey of Enterprises on Corruption

At the Integrity Summit, businessmen stressed the importance of a clean government in improving business. “Transparency leads to competitiveness because it levels the playing field,” said Guillermo Luz, National Competitiveness Council private sector co-chair.

The summit was held exactly a week after a friend of President Aquino, Rico Puno, resigned as Interior undersecretary over reports he was being probed in connection with the Philippine National Police’s firearms deals.

INTEGRITY SUMMIT. Top businessmen attend Tuesday's event aiming to promote transparency in government. Photo by Maria Ressa

The Integrity Initiative, a campaign led by the private sector, organized the Integrity Summit with this year’s theme, “Driving Culture Change.” Some 500 participants attended it at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati City. In the afternoon, another keynote speaker – newly installed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno – will discuss the judicial reforms she seeks to implement.

Rappler, an event partner, is livestreaming the Integrity Summit through this link. – Rappler.com

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