Graft and Corruption
It refers to the acquisition of gain in dishonest or questionable manner. CORRUPTION – has been defined as the misuse or abuse of public office for private gain both in government and the private sector. It comes in several illicit forms, including bribery, extortion, fraud, nepotism, graft, speed money, pilferage, theft, embezzlement, falsification of records, kickbacks, influence peddling and campaign contributions. – is the perversion or destruction of integrity or fidelity in discharging public duties and responsibilities by bribery or favor.
It entails the use of public power for private advantage in ways which transgresses some formal rule of law. It involves participants from within and outside of the bureaucracy. – it ? refers to the use of public office for private gain or the betrayal of public trust for private gain,” (National Anti-Corruption Framework and Strategy, 2000). – rottenness: putrid matter: impurity: bribery. Source- Chambers Dictionary According to common usage of term ? Corruption?
Sometimes also the act of the officials offering such gifts or other tempting favors is implied in the concept.
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Extortion, i. e. demanding such gifts or favors in the execution of public duties, too, may be regarded as ? Corruption.? Indeed, the term Page 1 of 31 pages is sometimes also applied to officials who use the public funds they administer for their own benefit; who, in other words, are guilty of embezzlement at the expense of a public body.
In most instances, reference to corruption is made in connection with other subjects, such as crime or public administration. Many works referring to corruption do not attempt a conceptual and actual analysis. The commonly held perception amongst most people of corruption is that of something that is debased, impure, or acts of criminality. Indeed, corruption as it relates to human behavior can be all of those things and more. Innate in the human psyche, irrespective of race or religion, is a sense of morality, of what is right and wrong. As innate as this sense of morality, is the desire to gain advantage over others.
A conflict of good and evil. Thankfully most people display more of the good, and some display extraordinary feats of humility and selflessness. Yet others sway to the easy path of seeking advantage, wherever they can get it. Self and self gratification are their main motives. These individuals it could be said are corrupt or corruptible. Corruption weakens the fabric of societies and leads to the society becoming dysfunctional. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines provides the basis of ethical and accountable behavior in the public sector. Section 1 of Article XI states that:
Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. This provision requires every public official and employee to exhibit and live certain values while in government service. In addition, the State has been mandated by the Constitution to ? maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption?.
In 1989, the Philippine legislature passed Republic Act No. 6713, a law embodying the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The Code spells out in fine detail the do‘s and don‘ts for government officials and employees in and out of the workplace. These do‘s and don‘ts are encapsulated in the eight norms of conduct to be observed by all government officials and employees. These norms or standards are: • • • Commitment to public interest Professionalism Justness and sincerity Page 2 of 31 pages • • • • • Political neutrality
Responsiveness to the public Nationalism and patriotism Commitment to democracy Simple living The Code, likewise, introduced some reforms in the administrative systems like giving heads of agencies the responsibility of ensuring there is a value development program for their employees; continuing studies on work systems and procedures with the end in view of improving the delivery if public services; and, mandating the designation of a resident Ombudsman in every department, office and agency. Incentives and rewards system has also been put in place.
Another comprehensive law passed to address and curb the commission of malfeasance in government is Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. In Section 1 of this law, it states that: It is the policy of the Philippine Government, in line with the principle that a public office is a public trust, to repress certain acts of public officer and private persons alike which constitute graft and corrupt practices which may lead thereto. This law specifies eleven (11) instances of corrupt practices in addition to acts or omissions already penalized by existing laws:
In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: (a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.
Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given, without prejudice to Section thirteen of this Act. Page 3 of 31 pages (d) Accepting or having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within one year after its termination.
Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.
Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party. (g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.
Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest. (i) Directly or indirectly becoming interested, for personal gain, or having a material interest in any transaction or act requiring the approval of a board, panel or group of which he is a member, and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against the same or does not participate in the action of the board, committee, panel or group.
Interest for personal gain shall be presumed against those public officers responsible for the approval of manifestly unlawful, inequitable, or irregular transaction or acts by the board, panel or group to which they belong. (j) Knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage, or of a mere representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled.
Divulging valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date. Page 4 of 31 pages The Constitution of 1987 provides six grounds as basis for initiating impeachment proceedings against high ranking government officials, among which are graft and corruption.
Philippine laws rarely distinguish graft from corruption; these may even be used inter-changeably to refer to dishonest means or questionable activity or taking advantage of one‘s authority or position. Ivan Hill, formerly the Ethics Center at Washington D. C. , believes that honesty increases efficiency and productivity both in business and in government. The inference is that where there is dishonesty, there is the corresponding decrease of efficiency and productivity.
Applied to public management, there will therefore be inefficient and poor delivery of service, and if the segment of the bureaucracy infested is a revenue collecting entity, like the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, this could only mean a much depreciated revenue collection. The identity or similarity of their consequences, notwithstanding, In the Bureau of Internal Revenue, graft takes the form of falsification and manipulation of financial documents and other records and delay in forwarding remittance collections. Contract graft in public works construction may take the form of sealed bids which are but a formality because there already is a pre-arranged winner of the bid.
The use of substandard construction materials is also another form of graft. BRIEF HISTORY OF GRAFT AND CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES Colonial roots The use of public office for private ends by government officials and private businessmen has been evident since the Spanish colonial period. A summary report by Elizabeth Medina of the conference proceedings of the Asociacion Espanola de Estudios del Pacifica (November 1997) discusses the kinds and causes of corruption in 19th-century Philippines. Medina’s report said: “The most important practices were falsification of accounting documents.
The evidence of embezzlement of funds was destroyed and the cabezas de barangay were obliged to sign blank financial statements. Corrupt governors hid monies from the administration in Manila. They also found ways to discourage the natives from working so they would be thus liable to fines. Taxes and fees were arbitrarily set and excessively high, and illegal fines were often collected. Governors could embezzle the salaries of public officials and often demanded gifts from their hosts when they made official visits. Gifts were also necessary so that false documents would not be issued.
The reasons for corruption were many: the governors had Page 5 of 31 pages executive, legislative and judicial powers. No checks and balances were built into the system, and when they were, they were unenforceable. There was a vague limit between what were public goods and what were private ones… The salaries of public officials were low… There was monetary crisis in the 19th century… The laws were so complex as to easily hide misappropriations and fraud… Finally, the common people had no idea of the law and submitted meekly to the injustices and abuses…”
Many Filipinos today believe that corruption was negligible during the American colonial era. However, as suggested in Medina’s report, corruption in the provinces was not altogether eradicated. According to Alfred McCoy (1994), the Americans even ”used the term cacique to describe the provincial elites who combined local office with landed wealth to gain extraordinary control over the countryside. ” The US colonial authority similarly tried to restrain rent-seeking by an emerging national elite. And although it was penetrated and manipulated by these elites, the colonial bureaucracy managed to maintain its influence until the 1930s.
Although American colonial rule tried its best at eradicating corruption, there were incidents that already indicated its prevalence. Paul D. Hutchcroft (1998), for example, cites the solvency problems faced by the Philippine National Bank less than five years after its establishment in 1917. Loans were given out without consultation and went to well connected agricultural families, directors or interests controlled by directors. In 1921, an accounting firm reported that the PNB had squandered the entire capital stock contributed by the government as well as half of all government deposits in the bank.
American legacy American colonial rule also helped develop another building block for the national spread of corruption. It maintained and expanded a big and interventionist government within a democratic framework. At the start, the colonial administrators promoted an economy led by private enterprise, and big business in particular, following the trend in the United States at the time. However, beginning in 1913, the government took an active role in the promotion of economic growth. Then, in 1916, the colonial administrators increasingly interfered in business.
The consequent ”growth of government”, as leader, large-scale development promoter and employer, laid the ground for massive and systematic corruption later in the country’s history. With this legacy came expanded opportunities for corruption. These included granting individuals and organizations of special favors, policy changes, licenses, business contracts, and even employment (which in a patron client system redound to personal gain). Such practices effectively destroyed the development of a merit system in the Philippines.
After political independence in 1946, writers like nationalist Renato Constantino bewailed the pervasiveness of corruption in Philippine society. “Daily, in the halls of Congress, through the Page 6 of 31 pages printed word and over the airwaves, our politicians and our civic leaders expose, denounce, or deplore this or that government’s anomaly. During election time the principal issue is always graft and corruption. No wonder public concern is almost exclusively centered on malfeasance in government. But with every change of administration, the problem only becomes aggravated.
The panaceas and the grandiose promises fizzle out. The accusers become the accused; the halo of righteousness changes heads. The list of dishonor is different but corruption remains the same. Graft and corruption persist, like a cancer gnawing at our entrails, showing no signs of abatement and consigning us to a state of helplessness and hopelessness. ” The Marcos government has been often regarded as the most systematically corrupt of all government administrations in the Philippines. This was not surprising considering the concentration of state powers in the President at the time.
Unlike in previous administrations that more or less observed the independence of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, Marcos effectively controlled these three branches. Eventually, crony capitalism reached its zenith with the centralization of political power and the realignment of concentrated economic power from the old elites to favored Marcos associates. Although the Marcos government has been considered as the most corrupt of all, succeeding political administrations had their own share and have not effectively controlled the problem.
In fact, with the return to democracy after the EDSA Revolution, the perception is that the floodgates of corruption have been opened for more people at various levels of government and society. The vacuum left by the Marcos regime has been filled and even widened; opportunities have simply become available to a broader population. Characteristics of Corruption The characteristics of corruption are as follows: (a) Corruption always involves more than one person. This is need not be the case with stealing, for instance, or embezzlement. The lone operator is corruption is virtually nonexistent, and such cases usually fall under fraud.
One instance is making a false declaration of traveling expenditure or hotel bills. But even here there is often a silent understanding between officials who practice such frauds to let the situation prevail. (b) Corruption on the whole involves secrecy, except where it has become so rampant and so deeply rooted that some powerful individuals or those under their protection would not bother to hide their activity. But nevertheless, even here the corrupt motive is kept secret. (c) Corruption involves an element of mutual obligation and mutual benefit. The obligation or benefit need not always be pecuniary.
Those who practice corrupt methods usually attempt to camouflage their activities by resorting to some form of lawful justification. They avoid any open clash with the law. Page 7 of 31 pages (e) Those who are involved in corruption are those who want definite decisions and those who are able to influence those decisions. (f) Any act of corruption involves deception, usually of the public body or society at large. (g) Any form of corruption is a betrayal of trust. (h) Any form of corruption involves a contradictory dual function of those who are committing the act.
When an official is bribed to issue a business license by the party who offers a ? gift? , the act of issuing the license is a function of both his office and his self-interest. He acts in a dual contradictory function. The same may be said of the party offering the bribe. Applying and receiving of license is a function of his lawful business interest, but resorting to bribery is not. (i) A corrupt act violates the norms of duty and responsibility within the civic order. It is based on the deliberate intent of subordinating common interest to specific interest.
The above list of characteristics of corruption could be extended. For an act to be classified as corrupt it has to contain all the above characteristics. The only possible exception is where corruption is difficult to distinguish from criminal extortion, where the party who bribes was compelled to do so, grudgingly and resentfully, and where the bribery was not considered as a necessary outlay for future gain. In such cases the victims kept no secrecy. Opportunities for corruption abound in the absence or lack of order, transparency and accountability.
Possible Causes of Graft and Corruption Ledivina V. Carino believes that corruption results from individual, organizational and societal causes. 1. individual — this results from low morality of both bureaucrats and clients 2. organizational — the weaknesses arising from the system may be due to unrealistic compensation, inadequate controls in areas not susceptible to corruption; lack of explicit standards of performance for individual employees and organizational units; poor recruitment and selection procedures and government red-tape.
The inability of the organization to provide adequate services to cope with the volume of demand breeds black market operations for government subsidized services. Poor public relations could result to public ignorance of what the organization does. This whets employee appetite for corruption. Poor working conditions and office facilities, weak organizational leadership and bureaucratic politization are other contributory factors. 3. societal — these are causes which are primarily attributed to the culture of a society.
The open tolerance of the public of undesirable and inefficient employees has bred an employee psychology of recalcitrance and lack of fear of being censured or criticized Page 8 of 31 pages because of the assurance given to them by their political ? backers? , all because of the “padrino system” or political patronage. The negative role model played by superiors creates an atmosphere of incompetence and defiance rather than efficiency and discipline. The “pakikisama” system puts heavy pressure upon the new employee to join his peers in the workplace as to perpetuate the legacy of administrative ineffectiveness.
The Filipino is further beset by extreme familism and personalism which generate inefficient delivery of services. The expected behavior of the Filipino is arrayed against cultural norms most of which are anchored on personalism. In the Philippines, people who practice graft and corruption are often put on the pedestal; they attain respectability while those who do not engage in such practices are branded as “tanga” for not taking advantage of their position and power. Behavior that is legally unacceptable may be ideal and acceptable depending upon the political culture of a society.
The bureaucrat is expected to deal equally with everyone, whether relatives or strangers. They are not supposed to receive gifts in any form. However, this expected behavior often clashes with the personal way Filipinos get on terms with one another. The practice of taking care of their kin is a deeply ingrained trait which could result in partiality and preferment in his official dealings. He gives priority to the transactions of his family however down the file these may be.
Such personalism is not limited only to blood relations but extends to all those sanctified by ritualistic ties like the compadre system, including neighbors, friends and other persons with whom, one interacts. All these practices explain the persistence of the social evils in our society. Social tolerance of these negativistic practices is complemented by passage of legislation without sufficient study of implications; the difficulty of proving graft and corruption cases; lack of political will to wage a determined anti-corruption campaign; poor educational orientation of the citizenry and clannishness and parochialism which destroys the merit system. There are three critical focal points of corruption in the bureaucracy.
There is undervaluation when an importer depreciates his imported goods very much below the actual cost. For instance, a sardine importer brings in a million cans. He pays P2. 00 per can before taxes. Sardines are subject to 20% customs duty, as of January, 1991, or 40 centavos per can. If the importer is dishonest, he undervalues the importation to P1. 00 per can before taxes and therefore pays only 20 centavos instead of 40 centavos as customs duty. With millions of cans of sardines, and with the number of importers doing this, government is defrauded by the millions of pesos.
Customs appraisers check the value of the imported goods against the official customs published values. When they are bribed, they will not bother to check, and if they check they deflate the value. Misdeclaration and misclassification are falsification of quantity and quality of imported goods. There is misdeclaration when the importer declares a lesser volume or quantity or declares the items different from what is contained in the van. The inspector does not bother to check and just clears the cargo. In the case of misclassification, the importer declares the importation as belonging to another classification.
For example, he declares it as industrial flour but in reality it is food flour which is taxed less. Outright smuggling occurs when the cargo is unloaded not in the designated place or port of entry. For example, when the vessel enters Philippine waters, it is met and the cargo is transferred to “kumpits” and brought to shore somewhere, other than the designated entry port and from there picked up by cargo trucks, sorted and delivered to contract-outlets, without paying customs duties. The culprits here are the coastguard and the military at the checkpoints who are paid off to let the cargo pass.
Abuse of bonded warehouse permits occurs when an importer brings in raw materials to be made into finished products. He does not pay taxes for the raw materials because he holds a permit to import. But in reality, he sells these raw materials to manufacturers at a price slightly lower than when the factories import by themselves. The culprits involved in this operation are Page 10 of 31 pages the customs guards of the warehouse, the accountant of the bonded warehouse and the legal division of the customs office. Graft and Corruption: Effects of Unethical Practices
If the causes of graft and corruption are individual, organizational and societal, said three sectors are also affected. To the individual there is loss of self-respect and ultimate dehumanization; to the organization it could result in subversion of authority structure and disillusionment within the bureaucracy. To society, it could mean increased administrative cost and revenue loss to government. There will be corresponding deterioration of public service and loss of confidence in government.? There will be goal displacement as employees pursue personal interests, rather than organizational and social objectives.
The intent of policy and the procedures for their implementation become useless since target beneficiaries are substituted for. Unauthorized control mechanisms take precedence over legal rules and regulations. Authoritative allocation of values envisioned by legislation gives way to shady deals and the demands of personal expediency. It brings about frustration and cynicism which could undermine faith and confidence in the viability and effectiveness of the democratic system. Graft and corruption are encouraged by public apathy which results from bad and ill-managed government.
But its most important and potent medium is the individual official or employee. Let us take the Bureau of Customs as a case in point, since it is the number one collecting arm of government which account for four-fifths of the total governmental revenue generated. This entity administers control and police authority over all harbors, piers, airports, wharves, ports, bays, rivers and inland waters throughout the Philippines. Its general duties and powers include assessment and collection of lawful revenues from imported goods and other fees, charges, dues, fines and penalties.
It is charged with preventing and suppressing smuggling; supervision and control over the entrance and clearance of vessels and aircraft engaged in foreign trade; enforcement of customs and tariff laws and other rules and regulations relating to tariff and customs administration; supervision over the handling of foreign mail to collect duties on articles smuggled through mails; control import and export cargoes landed and stored in piers, airports, terminal and depot facilities like container yards and flight stations, and exercises jurisdiction over seizure and forfeiture cases in accordance with tariff and customs laws.
This is a bureaucratic procedure characterized by excessive and unnecessary – delay in transacting business with government which is intentionally committed. It is a practice that slows down or hampers the delivery of much-needed basic services. When there is undue delay in the processing of transactions, people resort to fixers who collude with corrupt employees and officials to expedite business transactions. This is a common phenomenon in government offices. Fixers with connections Page 13 of 31 pages inside the different offices facilitate the issuance of marriage license or certificate of birth or of death.
After all, marriages are not made in heaven but at the city hail with the price set by the fixer. Certainly, the client of city hall would be willing to shell out a few pesos as “fixer’s fee” rather than queue the long line aggravated by the slow-paced processing process. This is the price paid for the inefficiency of the bureaucracy however unethical the practice is. Nepotism Nepotism is a version of graft and corruption exemplified by favors showered on relatives by appointing them to government positions regardless of qualifications.
The practice may be viewed as an aid to responsive management if blood relatives do their share in achieving organizational goals with minimum time and effort expended. On the other hand, nepotism can be pernicious to society if the relatives in the employ of government use blood relationship as the key to open themselves to the opportunity of improving their lives at the expense of public good and general welfare. It can foster the growth of dictatorship and the formation of ? political dynasties? which the 1987 constitution prohibits. In the Philippines, nepotism is not without historical antecedents.
The barangay of early Philippine society was viewed more as a socio-economic unit composed of members with consanguinial ties and those related by affinity. Cooperation in the community was a function of personal connection than pre-determined programs and impersonal procedures. These historical antecedents nurtured a tradition and a culture which considered public office more as a source of private gain than a public trust. The prohibition against nepotism is articulated best in the statement made by the late Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. ?Let no man who claims to be friend, relative or ally presume to seek license because of the relationship.
If he offends the new society, he should be punished like the rest.? Unfortunately, however, his administration committed the most number of cases of nepotism. Critics maintain that it was during the Marcos era that nepotism was institutionalized. The Aquino administration also showcased nepotism. If the Marcoses and the Romualdezes had their day, the Aquinos and the Cojuangcos also have theirs. The Ramos administration and the Estrada administration have their respective shares too. So what else is new? After all unethical behavior and practices have always been with us.
In our Muslim society, this problem is of more acute proportion. But why the insatiable desire of relatives of presidents to serve in government? Why do public officials appoint relatives to sensitive positions? Should personal loyalty and intimacy outweigh competence, seniority and the merit system? These are administrative dilemmas which have to be resolved. In the Philippines, there is a strong belief that corruption is prevalent. In a 1998 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, more than 70 percent of the respondents thought that corruption existed in government.
Nearly 40 percent believed that there was ”a great deal” of corruption. Page 14 of 31 pages Based on its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 99 countries, Transparency International rated the Philippines as the 54th among the most corrupt countries in 1999. The Philippines scored 3. 6 based on the CPI scale of 1 (high perception) to 10 (negligible perception). Indeed, in a society with a long history of rapacity and plunder in the ranks of the state and the elite, and powerlessness among the masses, the use of public office has been identified with gaining and maintaining economic, political and social power.
Both private citizens and government employees habitually use this office to further their self-interest at the expense of the common good. This custom has prevailed in the Philippines under a long and continuing regime of rent capitalism, in contrast to production-oriented capitalism. EXAMPLES OF GRAFT AND CORRUPTION Here is the anatomy of some types of corruption, taken from the website of the Transparent Accountable Governance project. Textbook scams According to the article of Yvonne T. Chua of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, up to 65 percent of textbook funds are reserved as bribe money.
The range is from 20 percent to 65 percent. Take the case of the medium-sized book publisher caught in January 1999. Her bulging bag contained several envelopes: P 1,000,000 (5% of the contract) for the regional director 50,000 for the supply officer 40,000 for the chief accountant 15,000 for the accountant who obligated the money 10,000 for the cashier 5,000 for each of the accounting clerks Then add 40 percent of the contract to a congressman. The total is about half the size of the contract she won. Page 15 of 31 pages Public works
A report by Earl Parreno said that congressmen get 12 percent to 20 percent of the funds allotted for building artesian wells, bridges, and roads. The total lost money may be bigger. In 1998 a cabinet member told journalists that commissions on public works ran up to an average 30 percent of the project cost. He cited an engineer who supervised road pavement projects in an Eastern Visayas district. The engineer cut the cement used by 20 to 30 percent “to save on materials. ” To do this he would leave hollow the middle portion of the road. Only gravel now occupies that section, though covered by a thin covering of cement.
“A foreman of a construction company building a seawall in the same district, meanwhile, admits he is using `small stones’ in the inner portion of the wall,” wrote Parreno. “That’s not supposed to be done,” says the foreman, “but no one can see it, anyway. ” This cuts down the cement used by 20 percent. Votes for sale A piece by Stella Tirol tells of the corruption that takes place in elections. A common means is the simple dole-out. One congressional candidate in Southern Luzon gave out as much as P 10,000 a day in the barrios. The rate then was P 100 per voter.
Election eve would require some P 4 million. The more sophisticated way is to get the barangay captain to your side. One barangay captain she interviewed admitted that he and other barangay captains were offered P 30,000 each. A bidding competition would ensue among the candidates. “Barangay officials act as the conduit for purchasing votes,” writes Tirol. “They know who among their constituents can be bought and on election day itself, they ensure that these people actually go to the precinct and cast their vote for the preferred candidate.
Oversight Institutions The legal infrastructure and political commitment are supported and complemented by the existence of oversight institutions. The creation of the oversight institutions that deal with issues of ethics, accountability, graft and corruption are mandated by the Constitution. The common feature of these institutions is they enjoy a substantive degree of fiscal autonomy in the sense that they are not subject to the fiscal controls of the executive. The budget is directly released to these institutions and the heads are authorized to realign savings from their budget.
For instance, CSC prescribes qualification standards for each and every position in the Philippine government. Non-compliance with the QS by agencies in the processing of appointments of their staff results in the disapproval by the CSC of such appointments. But, apart from the substantive requirements for practically all kinds of personnel actions such as the publication requirement and the promotion and selection board processes. Non-compliance with the procedural requirements constitutes ground for corrective or even punitive action.
The second approach deals with disciplinary actions against official or employee for infractions committed in relation to the performance of his/her official functions. The Administrative Code of 1987 or Executive Order No. 292 outlines the various acts that are subject to administrative disciplinary proceedings. However, administrative discipline is not a function within the exclusive jurisdiction of CSC. Agency heads as well as the Office of the Ombudsman also have the authority to proceed against erring government officials and employees.
The third approach is developmental and will be discussed later in the succeeding paragraph. The Office of the Ombudsman acts as a prosecutor against those charged with the violation of RA 3019, RA 6713 and the law against ill-gotten wealth, among others. It is mandated to investigate and prosecute the criminal liability of public officials and employees involved in graft and corruption. The Commission on Audit is the fiscal watchdog of the government. COA is responsible for ensuring legal and proper disbursement of public funds and preventing irregular, unnecessary, or extravagant expenditures or usage of public funds.
It also has quasi-judicial powers. All these oversight institutions enforce accountability ethic in government. B. Traditional approaches Since independence, numerous mechanisms have been designed to counteract corruption in the Philippines. The traditional approaches include setting the legal framework and establishing antiPage 17 of 31 pages graft and corruption bodies like presidential committees, commissions, task forces and other units. Since 1950, various Philippine presidents, from Quirino to Estrada, have created antigraft and corruption investigation units and agencies.
With the exception of the present Presidential Commission Against Graft and Corruption (PCAGC), established in February 1994, these bodies have been short-lived. The most recent presidential body is the Interagency Anti Graft Coordinating Council, which includes the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, the PCAGC, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Justice. The council was established through a memorandum of agreement among these agencies on June 11, 1997 (the DOJ was admitted in 1998).
The council received presidential recognition only in August 1999 through President Estrada’s Administrative Order Number 79 which allotted P5 million for antigraft activities. At present, the Ombudsman and the PCAGC are the principal actors in government to act on complaints and cases of graft. Some of the cases are resolved by the Ombudsman while the others are elevated to the Sandiganbayan. Cases where the accused have been found guilty are sent to the Supreme Court or to the Court of Appeals.
Currently, administrative cases are automatically sent to the Court of Appeals while criminal cases like the violation of the AntiGraft and Corruption Practices Act go directly to the Supreme Court. The issues of ethics and accountability pose a continuing challenge to the Philippine government. The mechanisms and infrastructure that have been put in place, as outlined in this paper, may not yet be the best or ideal in the sense that ethical and accountable behavior in the public sector is still much to be desired in the Philippines.