FM, Erap make it to list of world’s most corrupt
- Des Ferriols () - March 26, 2004 - 12:00am
Former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada have been accorded the dubious honor of being among the 10 most corrupt leaders in the last two decades, according to the 2004 Global Corruption Report of the United Kingdom-based Transparency International.

The report, released in London yesterday, said political corruption was undermining hopes for prosperity and stability in the developing world, ultimately damaging global economy.

In its new Global Corruption Report 2004, Transparency International charted the flow of stolen assets and recommended ways to recover money looted by despots.

"Political corruption undermines the hopes for prosperity and stability of developing countries, and damages the global economy," said Peter Eigen, chairman of Transparency International (TI).

"The abuse of political power for private gain deprives the most needy of vital public services, creating a level of despair that breeds conflict and violence," Eigen said. "It also hits the pockets of taxpayers and shareholders worldwide. The problem must be tackled at the national and international level."

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report is released annually. Since its inception, the Philippines has been ranked as the 11th most corrupt country in the world and the fourth most corrupt in Asia.

The 2004 report, Eigen said, put special focus on political corruption, which covered the regulation of political finance, the disclosure of money flows into politics, and the repatriation of wealth looted by politicians. Two industry case studies - on the arms and oil sectors - demonstrate the role of the private sector in supplying corrupt political funds.

The GCR 2004 detailed funds allegedly embezzled by political leaders of the past two decades, with Indonesia’s Mohamed Suharto topping the list of the ten most corrupt chief executives in the world.

President of Indonesia from 1967 to 1998, Suharto is alleged to have stolen $15 billion to $35 billion in a country where the GDP per capita hovered at around $700.

Second only to Suharto was Marcos, who was alleged to have embezzled a total of $5 billion to $10 billion while he was president of the Philippines in 1972 to 1986, at a time when the per capita income was at $912.

Estrada was the 10th most corrupt chief executive, cited by TI for allegedly embezzling $78 million to $80 million in the three years that he was president, unlike the top two leaders who were in power for decades.

The list also included ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko who was the third most corrupt leader as he ruled the African republic of Zaire between 1965 and 1997 when he allegedly stole $5 billion; former Nigerian president Sani Abacha who, during his term in 1993 to 1998 allegedly embezzled $2 billion to $5 billion while fifth in the list was Slobodan Milosevic who was accused of embezzling $1 billion from Serbia between 1989 and 2000.

Former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as Baby Doc, was listed as sixth, followed by former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori at seventh, Pavlo Lazarenko of the Ukraine and Arnoldo Aleman who was president of Nicaragua.

According to Eigen, donor governments should take up the effort of pressuring developing country governments to clean up and fight corruption.

"International financial institutions and donor governments must engage with developing country governments that demonstrate the political will to fight corruption," said Eigen. "To make sure that this will can be realized, donor governments must insist on adequate civil society monitoring of good governance in recipient countries."

The TI report said the major problem in the Asia/Pacific region was vote-buying, especially in East Asia.

"In the Philippines an estimated 3 million people were offered some form of payment in the 2002 barangay (community-level) elections," the report said. Similar problems were noted in Thailand, where 30 percent of household heads surveyed in a national sample said they were offered money during the 1996 general election.

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