EDITORIAL - Hotline vs corruption

EDITORIAL - Hotline vs corruption

(The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s good to have a hotline for reporting corrupt activities and inefficiency in government. The public has been advised to text 8888 for free, to provide tips on anomalies that need looking into by anti-corruption authorities.

If the tip provided to the Citizens’ Complaint Center leads to the capture of a crook, the tipster may even receive a reward ranging from P50,000 to P100,000. While anonymity is guaranteed, the tipsters will have to identify themselves for tracing purposes and turnover of the reward money, according to Malacañang.

The 8888 Citizens’ Complaint hotline was institutionalized through Executive Order No. 6 issued by President Duterte on Oct. 14, 2016. It was in line with the President’s repeated emphasis on the campaign against corruption and red tape. The President has been urging the public to text their complaints or tips to the 8888 hotline.

Such hotlines are only as good as the government’s response to legitimate tips and complaints. Tipsters will expect a decisive response, which could be difficult if the information about the alleged anomaly is incomplete since the pertinent incriminating information will likely be concealed. A quick effort to dig up such information, however, will encourage more tips.

In case the tipster works in the same agency as the subject of the complaint, the tipster will likely want protection from possible retaliation and a guarantee of anonymity. Those manning the hotline must prevent the leak of any clue about the identity of a tipster. Considering the culture of impunity in this country, such leaks could put a tipster’s life at risk.

A good way to encourage people to use the hotline is to present a corruption case that started with a text to 8888. The public will also be watching out for officials who are treated as sacred cows in this campaign – the best way to create doubt about the sincerity of any anti-corruption effort. If people see that the government means business in the difficult battle against corruption, the tips will pour in.

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