Corruption as a Political Challenge in Philippines

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By Romil Jagunap


Philippines held its 15th presidential election last May 10, 2010. The obvious winner of the said election was Mr. Benigno “Noynoy” Aguino III. He won by landslide garnering 42% from more than 36 million total votes. Noynoy won the heart of the Filipino people during the May 2010 election thru his campaign on clean government and on his fight to eradicate corruption to drive economic growth and to alleviate poverty.

This paper will examine the political challenges that the incumbent president is facing in eradicating corruption. The scope of this review encompasses the political aspect of corruption and its effect on the economy.

There are also other factors that hinder the economic growth such as the unfavorable business environment, peace & security issues, population explosion, brain drain, colonial mentality, weak infrastructure, low technological innovation, weak education system, creaking health system, etc. but all these challenges will not be discussed due to the limitation of space and time allocated to complete this report.


World Bank defines corruption as “the abuse of public power for private gain”. In Philippines corruption comes in different framework such as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement of public funds.

Based on the 2010 Worldwide Corruption Perceptions, Philippines is ranked very low at 134 out of 178 countries. Some of the highly publicized corruptions are summarized below.

1. Electoral Process. Political candidates are seeking donors to finance their marketing campaign. This is where nepotism and cronyism take place. Businessmen and rich relatives who help fund the marketing campaign will ask favor in return once the politician won the election. Some politicians have used government funds to finance their political campaign. One example is when ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used USD14.5 million from the Fertilizer Funds (aid to help farmers) during her campaign. She was charged with embezzlement of public funds by the senate. Vote buying and manipulation is prevalent. Mrs. Arroyo was accused of asking the Election Commissioner to transfer million of votes in her favor to guarantee her win during the election.

2. Corruption rampant among elected leaders. Several elected politicians have been accused of stealing money from the government. The most notable incident was when Ferdinand Marcos believed to steal USD10 billion during his reign from 1972 to 1986. President Joseph Estrada were accused of pocketing USD800 million before he was impeached in 2001 while Mrs. Arroyo received kickbacks from the USD 329 million national broadband projects.

3. Petty / administrative / bureaucratic corruption. It is alarming to note that 32% of the Filipino being surveyed by the Transparency International’s 2007 Global Corruption Barometer) paid bribe in accessing public services. Extortion and bribery are common among the different government offices/agencies - Political parties, civil servants and parliament/legislator, Judiciary, Education, Health, Tax revenue, Media, Police, Land services and registry/permit services/Philippine custom.

Filipinos agree and believe that corruption brings social poverty. It also hinders the economic growth of the country for several reasons:

1. Corruption inhibits foreign direct investment (FDI).

2. Corruption can drain the country’s resources and funds that are intended to finance several government projects for national development.

3. Corruption hinders creation of domestic businesses due to red tapes, bribery and extortion when dealing with different government offices/agencies. This makes doing of business more difficult,...
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