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Corruption exacerbates impact of COVID-19 – experts

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Corruption exacerbates impact of COVID-19 â experts
Photo shows P1,000-banknote.
Image by iiijaoyingiii from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — Law and governance experts have urged voters to elect new leaders who have clear platforms on addressing the COVID pandemic and corruption in the government.

At a forum organized by international research organization Stratbase ADR Institute (ADRi), titled “Recovering Philippine Democracy Beyond 2022,” experts said that corruption has exacerbated the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must learn from the damaging lessons of this time and seize the opportunity to revitalize our nation from the deep scars of the pandemic and governance crisis,” political analyst and Stratbase ADRi president Dindo Manhit said.

“One of the key challenges of the 2022 elections is pandemic disinformation. We’ve seen it since 2016, we speak of wrong information that paralyzes people’s critical ability to choose leaders. We need to collectively expose and denounce trolls and disinformation machineries,” he added.

One of the forum’s resource speakers, doctor Leni Jara, executive director of Council for Health and Development (CHD), said “the current Philippine health care system is really not in very good shape.”

“About 41 percent of those who died (from the pandemic) were not attended to by any public health officials. Most of them, almost half, died in their homes,” Jara said, lamenting that since the start of the pandemic, there is still no aggressive contact tracing while COVID testing remains expensive.

“We have been under-tested throughout these times. There is a shrinking government role in health. Even during the pandemic, when there was a special Bayanihan (Act), budget was not used 100 percent,” Jara said.

Meanwhile, Ateneo School of Government dean Ronald Mendoza said the pandemic has exposed the economic inequalities in the country, wherein the low- to middle-income classes were proven to be most vulnerable to “shocks” or adverse impacts.

Mendoza said the next leaders of the country should push for a “more inclusive society” and “more inclusive economy.”

“I believe the economic inequality and the political inequality are very much tied to each other, favoring a wealthy political class and not in favor of the vast majority of our poor and low-income Filipinos,” Mendoza said.

“Several key elements (to address inequalities) include strong social protection, regulation of dynasties and finally, improving competition in the economy, such as opening up sectors which have been heavily regulated and protected,” he added.

Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Michael Aguinaldo, meanwhile, stressed the importance of citizen participation in curbing corruption and promoting good governance.

Aguinaldo cited the COA’s Citizen Participatory Audit, which was established almost a decade ago, wherein ordinary citizens and non-government organizations work side by side with auditors in the conduct of performance audits of government projects.

“The key, therefore, to recovering democracy beyond 2022 is to provide ways by which the people can feel they are a part of government apart from merely voting for representatives,” Aguinaldo said.

CORRUPTION COVID-19
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