‘Senate, House and Customs need a lot of soul-searching’

Some agencies with the inherent purpose of fighting corruption are perceived as insincere in combatting it

MANILA, Philippines – Looks like the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have a lot of work to do.

According to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) 2013 Enterprise Survey on Corruption, the 4 suffered the biggest downgrades in their sincerity ratings in fighting corruption between 2012 and 2013.

The study, which surveyed executives of 951 enterprises across the country, showed that the Senate suffered the biggest downgrade, from +36 or good, to -8 or neutral. The House of Representatives also went from -6 or neutral to -28 or poor, while the LTO went from -26 or poor in 2012, to -32 or bad in 2013.

But it was the BOC, which President Benigno Aquino III vowed to reform in his 2013 State of the Nation Address, that remained the worst perceived agency attempting to fight corruption. From its -46 or poor rating, the BOC suffered a further downgrade of -63 or very bad in the eyes of businessmen.

Guillermo M, Luz, Co-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, said the data should be used by these agencies to help institute reforms.

“The Senate, House and Customs need a lot of soul searching,” he said on Tuesday, February 3, at the NCC-sponsored dialogue with businessmen.

“Everybody, every agency knows their record anywhere from 7-9 years by now. If I were the head of an agency I would take a look at my agency… and I’d improve,” he added.

The 2013 survey, conducted from July 31 to November 29, is the 11th in a series of surveys of enterprises on corruption done by SWS since 2000.

Various estimates show the government loses P250 billion every year to corruption. Upon assuming power in June 2010, President Benigno Aquino III vowed to clean up government and rid the bureaucracy of anomalous contracts. HIs precedessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is under hospital arrest for plunder charges and spent the latter part of her term battling accusations of massive corruption.

Corruption fighters?

Public perception of the presidency has since changed.

In fact, of the 26 government agencies surveyed by the SWS, only one got an excellent sincerity rating on fighting corruption: the Office of the President.

Businessmen gave Aquino’s office a +77, slightly down from the +80 in 2012, but still excellent.

Other agencies with the inherent purpose of fighting corruption among other tasks, also experienced upgrades, with the Supreme Court going from +24 or moderate to +36 or good from 2012 to 2013. The Comelec also went from -13 or poor to +7 or neutral in the past year.

Two other agencies with similar mandates experienced upgrades compared to 2009. The Department of Justice (DOJ) rose from -5 or neutral in 2009 to +35 or good in 2013, while the Commission on Audit (COA) went from +8 or neutral in 2009 to +22 or moderate in 2013. Neither had data from 2012.

But 4 other agencies also meant to fight corruption and promote justice were not perceived as positively.

One of the agencies with a net sincerity rating of poor was the Philippine National Police (PNP), which stayed Poor from -12 in 2012, to -24 in 2013.

The Sandiganbayan or the anti-graft court also remained Moderate, but dropped from +27 to +15. The Ombudsman however experienced a downgrade. From +39 or Good in 2012, it dropped to +23 or Moderate in 2013.

Trial courts also saw a similar trend. Without 2012 data, it went from +11 or Moderate in 2009 to +9 or Neutral in 2013.

SWS President Mahar Mangahas said a close look at the results shows that “complaints about the trial courts are about the Metro Manila trial courts in particular,” and that “everywhere else is moderate,” referring to Metro Angeles, Cavite-Laguna-Batangas, Metro Iloilo, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and Cagayan de Oro-Iligan.

No agency received a grade of execrable this year, which is -70 and below, although the BOC did have very bad to execrable ratings from 2005-2009.

You can access the full survey findings here: