No matter how many times I tell my wife she looks "GREAT!” she always asks, “Are you sure?” She then immediately seeks out the opinions of everyone in the immediate area. But let me say that the outfit she is wearing does not look good and she will immediately accept the negative comment and change her clothes. This seems to be a general Pinoy trait. Many Filipinos resist or reject positive comments but are very quick to believe, without question, anything negative about themselves or even their nation.
Not to long ago, President Arroyo acknowledged that the Philippines is “the most corrupt nation in the Far East”. This ugly and economically damaging label was bestowed on this beautiful country largely because of a small survey done by the Political & Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) headquartered in Hong Kong. The media immediately jumped on this criticism and flashed it around the world. Everyone, including most Filipinos, just accepted this economically crippling label without question. Most people did not even bother to read the full report but just focused on the lurid headline.
If you read the full report you discover several positive facts that everyone seems to have missed. First, while the report does label the Philippines the “most corrupt nation in the Far East”; the report also says that there is little or no difference between the five nations on the bottom of the list. Anyone of these nations could have been legitimately labeled the “most corrupt.” The report also cites significant improvements in the Philippine’s war on corruption. The solicitation of bribes, in both the public and private sectors, has gone down since the 2005 report. There has also been a significant increase in honest business practices. That means the Philippines did not fail in the war on corruption but has actually been winning that war. Somehow the media seems to have missed this very important point.
On its web site, PERC claims to provide information to foreign businessmen so they may safely invest their money. That is a very important and powerful mission. Accuracy of information and conclusions are vital. Their report can mean the difference between having a job and starving to many people in these developing countries. I join with several leading government advisors and believe there is no legitimate way to accurately evaluate or compare corruption levels. These reports are little more than the perception of a few selected people. The data is highly subjective.
The PERC report surveyed 1,476 expatriate businessmen in 13 different countries. Almost half of those surveyed were in the Philippines. PERC never explains how it compensates for this great disparity of data sources. In addition there is no model compensation for the impact of the media on the perception of those surveyed. Independent statistical data says the corruption levels in the Philippines have dropped yet those surveyed state corruption levels are higher. I find the fact that PERC went with perception rather than the facts to be a telling piece of information.
The Philippines averages three arrests per day for corruption. In 2005 the conviction rate for these arrests was 55%. In 2007 the conviction rate has been 77%. Over 50 government officials have lost their jobs. The Philippines even arrested a sitting President for graft and corruption. President Arroyo has hired the man responsible for ridding Singapore of its corruption problems. Singapore now rates number one in Asia for the least corruption. Do not know about you, but I think the Philippines is working damn hard to clean up the country and getting no credit for that work.
This beautiful country loses over 2 billion dollars each year to graft and corruption. It is impossible to estimate how many billions of dollars the Philippines lose in foreign investments and new jobs. If you want to blame someone for all the poverty in the Philippines seems like a good place to start would be those people involved in kick backs, bribes, graft and corruption. Be an Everyday Hero help us fight this “cancer” that threatens this beautiful country.