Philippines ineffective at implementing anti-corruption laws, US report finds

Philippines ineffective at implementing anti-corruption laws, US report finds
There were several attempts to pass an FOI law in the past.
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MANILA, Philippines — A new report by the US State Department found that while the Philippines has laws to punish corruption by public officials, its government failed to effectively implement these.

“The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by public officials, but the government did not implement these laws effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,” read a portion of the report on the Philippines’ human rights practices.

The report said “prolonged delays” in the prosecution of corruption cases “reinforced the perception of impunity” for security forces and national and local government officials accused of corruption and human rights abuses.

It cited as an example the time it took to secure a conviction for graft and corruption against former Rep. Clavel Martinez (Cebu) and five other local officials in connection with a scam from 2002 to 2003.

“The convictions came 20 years after the crime and 10 years after charges were first filed,” the report noted.

It also flagged the budget allocations to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Sandiganbayan and the Commission on Audit, saying these were “consistently … below what they requested.”

“But they actively collaborated with the public and civil society and appeared to operate independently and use their limited resources effectively,” it said.

The report noted that the Ombudsman successfully prosecuted more than 100 corruption cases, “but officials continued to engage in corrupt practices with relative impunity.”

The Philippines rose by one spot to 116 from 117 out of 180 countries ranked in the latest Corruption Perception Index of Berlin-based Transparency International, but remained among "significant decliners" in Asia-Pacific as its score dropped five points from 38 – the country’s highest – in 2014, when it ranked 85th out of 175.

Filipinos' satisfaction with the Marcos administration's efforts to fight corruption was at a "moderate" +12, according to a survey by private pollster Social Weather Stations. — Xave Gregorio

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