GRAFT AND CORRUPTION: THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE Nelson Nogot Moratalla* I. INTRODUCTION This paper will present a condensed report on graft and corruption in the Philippines. Information was compiled by the author from documents, articles, newspaper clippings and other data gathered from the reports and journals of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, two of the constitutional bodies mandated by Philippine law to investigate and act on complaints filed against public officials and employees for violations of graft and corrupt practices. More specifically, this report will cover input from an unpublished research paper prepared by scholars from the University of the Philippines, College of Public Administration, whom I will accordingly acknowledge in this work.1 This report will generally follow the outline as provided. The first portion will introduce the theoretical perspective and context of corruption in the Philippines. It clarifies the national context within which corruption operates. It will look into the intersection of corruption and Philippine history and culture. It will likewise discuss some public perceptions of corruption. Estimates of the extent and losses of corruption in the Philippines will be briefly discussed. The history of the Philippine * Deputy Director / Dean of Academic, Philippine National Police Academy, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippines. 1 “Initiatives Taken Against Corruption: The Philippine Case”; unpublished paper prepared by Ledivina V. Cariño, University Professor and Dean, Gabriele R. Iglesias, Assistant Professor, and Ma. Fe V. Mendoza, Associate Professor, College of Public Administration, University of the Philippines.
fight against corruption will be taken up i n t e r m s o f l a w, a n t i - c o r r u p t i o n constitutional bodies, and other government agencies and non-government initiatives. Finally, there will be an assessment of the anti-graft and corruption programs, and recommendations on what might be done in the light of Philippine democracy, culture and development. II. THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE We view corruption as an agent’s departure from the principal’s demand for the responsible use of power in society. As such, although it is centered on a public official’s act and is indicated by a violation of law, it does not involve the state alone. Rather, it is embroiled in the accountability of public officials, and indeed of the state, to the people. Thus, in analyzing and combating corruption, we look beyond the state. Corruption shows up what the society views as the responsible use of power and thus what it will accept and support. In this light, any attack against corruption must come to terms not only with the law, but also with the country’s history, ie what is accepted by the culture and the behavior of civil society as well.2 III. THE CONTEXT OF CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES In the late 1980’s, the Philippines entered the Guinness Book of World Records for allegedly the biggest corruption of all time, referring to the period of the dictatorship of the former President, 2
Ibid, “Initiatives Taken Against Corruption: The Philippines Case”; p.4
RESOURCE MATERIAL SERIES No. 56 Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos was ousted from his twenty-year presidency by a bloodless people’s power revolution in February 1986. To describe the corruption of his regime, “kleptocracy” and “plunder” became part of the Filipino’s political vocabulary and discourse.3 “Government by thievery” did not stop with the enactment of the Republic Act No. 7080 in 1991, entitled “An Act Defining Plunder”. Indeed, although both laws and agencies to combat corruption have increased in the post-Marcos period, it remains one of the prime problems complained of by the people. The currency and gravity of the problem are manifested in the following clippings from a September 7, 1998 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “On board a...