Pulse Asia: DPWH most corrupt

- Ghio Ong, Helen Flores -

MANILA, Philippines - A recent Pulse Asia survey released yesterday revealed that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is perceived by the public as the most corrupt government agency while the Department of Education (DepEd) topped the list of least corrupt agencies.

Pulse Asia’s February 2009 Nationwide Survey on Corruption showed that 32 percent of Filipino adults believe that the DPWH is the most corrupt agency of the Philippines.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is viewed as the second most corrupt agency by 21 percent of Filipinos, followed by the Department of Agriculture, 19 percent; Bureau of Internal Revenue, 16 percent; Department of Education, 15 percent; Bureau of Customs, 15 percent and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, eight percent.

Pulse Asia said that while the DepEd is identified as most corrupt by 15 percent of Filipinos, 20 percent consider it as one of the least corrupt government agencies in the country.

In the list of least corrupt government agencies, the DepEd is followed by the Department of Health with 13 percent, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development with 11 percent.

The other government agencies were mentioned as either most or least corrupt by less than one in 10 Filipinos (eight percent or less).

Eight percent of respondents did not consider any government agency as graft-ridden while 33 percent did not identify any agency as having hardly any or no corruption at all, Pulse Asia said.

On the other hand, 18 percent either cannot say or do not know the agencies that are the most corrupt while about the same percentage (19 percent) expressed the same sentiment when asked to name the least corrupt agencies in the country.

The non-commissioned survey, conducted from Feb. 2 to 15, used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 representative adults aged 18-years-old and above.

Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said this is the first time that they ask the respondents to name government agencies which they think are the most and least corrupt institutions.

Meanwhile, the latest survey also found that Filipinos without any personal experience of corruption outnumber those who have personally witnessed any incidence of corruption – 86 percent versus 14 percent. Of those who had experience with corruption, 81 percent opted to keep silent about the matter, Pulse Asia said.

Big majorities – 83 percent to 90 percent – in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes also report this.

In contrast, only 14 percent report having personally witnessed any instance of graft or corruption, with practically the same figures recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings – 10 percent to 17 percent.

“These figures do not differ significantly from those obtained by Pulse Asia in August 2003 when these probes were last included in the Ulat ng Bayan survey,” Pulse Asia said.

Unfortunately, Pulse Asia said, a big majority (81 percent) of those who have personally witnessed any instance of corruption decided to keep silent – an act resorted to by 59 percent to 91 percent across geographic areas and socio-economic classes.

“The option to keep silent may appear to be the most reasonable action to take in light of the experiences of whistleblowers in publicized cases (like Rodolfo Lozada Jr. in the ZTE-NBN broadband contract),” Pulse Asia said.

In August 2003, fewer (58 percent) of those who have personally experienced corruption opted to keep silent. The other actions taken by those who have personally experienced corruption are cited by about the same percentages in August 2003 and February 2009, Pulse Asia said.

The survey revealed that more Filipinos are concerned about corruption in February 2009 than in July and October 2008.

About one in two Filipinos or 53 percent is critical of the Arroyo administration’s efforts to fight corruption in government – the only majority disapproval rating obtained by the national administration in February 2009, Pulse Asia said.

Nearly half of Filipinos or 45 percent cite graft and corruption as one of the national issues that must be immediately addressed by the present administration – higher than the July and October 2008 figures by 14 and nine percentage points, respectively.

The most often-cited urgent national concern is inflation, Pulse Asia said.

Of the nine issues probed by Pulse Asia in October 2008 and February 2009, it is only the level of concern for graft and corruption that increased during this period, it said.

On the other hand, 21 percent of Filipinos are appreciative of the administration’s anti-corruption initiatives while 26 percent are ambivalent on the matter.

“These figures do not differ significantly from those obtained by the Arroyo administration in October 2008,” Pulse Asia said.

In the period during the conduct of this survey, Pulse Asia said the news headlines focused on the alleged bribery of several officials from the Department of Justice and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in relation to a drug case; the reported bid rigging behind road projects in the country being funded by the World Bank (WB); the planned automation of the May 2010 elections; the revival of congressional discussions on constitutional amendments.

Also in the news were controversies involving the Supreme Court including the aborted plan to file impeachment charges against Chief Justice Reynato Puno; the closure of some companies and the laying off of workers both here and abroad; the Arroyo administration’s efforts to create jobs and provide assistance to laid off workers; and the US presidential election and the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

In the December 2004 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), the top 10 corrupt agencies were the Government Service Insurance System (22 percent); AFP (21 percent); BIR (nine percent); DPWH (nine percent); PNP (six percent); DepEd (five percent); Bureau of Customs (five percent); Social Security System (five percent); National Power Corp. (three percent) and Land Transportation Office (three percent).

Topping the list of the least corrupt agencies in the SWS survey is the DOH (nine percent), followed by DSWD (three percent), DepEd (two percent), SSS (one percent) and Civil Service Commission (one percent).

DPWH secretary reacts to survey

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said that the controversy generated by the WB during the last two months could have overshadowed the department’s accomplishments, thus landing them in the number one spot as the most corrupt government agency in a recent survey.

Ebdane said that while they welcome the feedback, this was based on public perception.

“It is unfortunate that the intensified efforts for expanding the infrastructure network across the islands and providing jobs from the economic stimulus plan are being overshadowed by the controversies arising from recent issues.”

He attributed the public’s negative opinion to “the recent news items on public works that have been on the front page over the last few months.”

Last Jan. 15, the WB publicly announced that it had banned seven firms and one individual allegedly engaged in the bid riggings during the first phase of the National Road Improvement and Management Program (NRMIP). – With Sheila Crisostomo, Cecile Suerte Felipe, Marvin Sy, Evelyn Macairan, Jaime Laude

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