MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines scored and ranked lower in the 2017 report of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI) compared to the previous two years.
The anti-corruption watchdog also said that majority of countries around the world are “moving too slowly” in their efforts to fight corruption.
Released on Wednesday, February 21, the CPI 2017 results showed that the Philippines got a score of 34. It was down from 35 in the 2015 and 2016 reports.
The Philippines’ score of 34 is “bad news,” said Alejandro Salas, an Asia-Pacific senior expert at Transparency International, in an email to Rappler.
While the one-point drop from the 2016 index is not significant, Salas said, “When we look at 2014 when the Philippines reached 38, then we see that the situation in the perception of corruption in the country has been going downhill in the last 3 years.”
Salas added that the relation of the low score to the “war on drugs” by President Rodrigo Duterte is “not direct” but he said “one can speculate that there is some influence.”
“When individuals or private group interests are stronger and above the laws and institutions, corruption finds a fertile ground to flourish. It is in this sense that the war on drugs has openly shown that actions and decisions by one ruler are above institutions, human rights, and common sense, as it happens in the Philippines,” Salas explained.
He also noted that while Duterte has constantly campaigned against corruption, “unfortunately, these are only words, as there can’t be a real and honest anti-corruption campaign if citizens, organizations, and the media are scared and punished if they denounce or demand accountability.”
TI separately noted a “slow, imperfect progress” across the Asia Pacific Region, and called the Philippines, India and Maldives as among “the worst regional offenders” in terms of threatening – or in some cases, murdering – journalists, activists, opposition leaders and staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies.
“These countries score high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths,” said the group.
New Zealand and Denmark were the least corrupt in the 2017 index, with respective scores of 89 and 88. Finland, Norway, and Switzerland followed suit, each with a score of 85.
Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria ranked lowest, with scores of 9, 12, and 14, respectively.
The global average score is 43. The Asia Pacific region has an average score of 44, tying with the Americas in 2nd place among the regions.
The European Union & Western Europe got the highest regional average score with 66, while countries in Sub-Saharan Africa performed the worst, with an average score of 32.
Meanwhile, more than two-thirds or 69% of countries scored below 50.
“Despite attempts to combat corruption around the world, the majority of countries are moving too slowly in their efforts,” said Transparency International in a statement.
“While stemming the tide against corruption takes time, in the last 6 years, many countries have still made little to no progress,” they added.
Worse, TI said, further analysis of the index also indicated that “countries with the lowest protections for press and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.” (READ: Crackdown on media, NGOs linked to low global corruption index scores)
State policy, participation
Asked about the high scores in Western Europe, Salas noted that while not all countries there are not faring well in the index, “what they have is a well-functioning democratic system with clean elections taking place regularly and various state institutions functioning as check and balances for each other.”
“The president or prime ministers are not all powerful and don’t control the institutions that are there to control them and exercise oversight. Citizens are involved, have access to public information, have better channels to complain against corruption, and the media operates in a largely free environment,” he added.
To make significant progress against corruption worldwide, Salas said the battle must be waged “as a policy of state.”
“The country that looks at fighting corruption as a state matter and not as a one-time political issue, and that embraces a strategy that combines the participation of various sectors with the creation of the laws and institutions that will prevent corruption from happening, the strengthening of the justice to punish corruption, and an open space for civil society actors and journalists to report and demand accountability, will be the one that will have a significant improvement in the score,” explained Salas.
The CPI ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and businesspeople.
Using a scale where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean, the CPI is based on surveys and assessments of corruption by institutions and bodies such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. – Rappler.com