Philippines improves corruption perception ranking

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The Philippines improved its ranking in the global index of perceived official corruption, according to watchdog Transparency International (TI).

In its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2013, TI said the Philippines jumped 11 spots to 94th place out of 177 countries with a score of 36, amid a pork barrel scandal involving several lawmakers.

In last year’s index, the Philippines ranked 105th out of 176 countries with a score of 34.

Bill Luz, co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, said the Philippines’ ranking has improved significantly in the last two years.

“We’re now up to 94, when we used to be 105. That’s a big improvement. It’s not easy to move up the ranking by double-digit and we’ve done that. We were up 24 last year and we’re up 11 this year. We’re up 35 in two years, that’s a large jump anywhere in the world,” he told ANC.

Luz admitted he was surprised the Philippines’ corruption ranking improved in a year when the multibillion peso pork barrel scam was uncovered.

“This is a year when we were hit by Napoles and PDAF and all the other things. Those charges have been filed. I’m actually quite surprised in a year when so many corruption scandals were uncovered that we actually improved. I’ve always said those corruption scandals were shadowed by solid reforms put in place over time. I think the fact that charges are filed is a good sign. That never happened before,” he said.

He said the government should now focus on bringing these corruption cases to court in a speedy manner.

“Right now, you have charges but no one hears of trials or convictions. We have to move with more speed and direction,” he said.

Meanwhile, Transparency International PH executive director Dr. Cleo Calimbahin said the government should further improve its anti-corruption efforts despite the jump, adding that the growth is not only about attracting investors.

Calimbahin noted that the 36 to 34 improvement in the country’s score is “insignificant.” Significant changes are only seen when there is a plus- or minus-4 in the score, she said.

“We’d like to see the government be more serious in its anti-corruption efforts, not just as a platform, but to see it in action. We’d also like to see asset recovery, and the Freedom of Information Bill passed, there are other things that they can do to show that they are serious in their anti-corruption efforts,” she told ANC in a separate interview.

Calimbahin said the rankings only give investors an idea of the corruption risk they will be facing and it is up to them to assess if investing in a particular country is worth the risk.

She added that the Corruption Perceptions Index is just one of the tools to give the public a “snapshot” of the perception of corruption in a country.

TI ranked 177 countries in 2013, placing New Zealand and Denmark joint first. The duo were also deemed the world’s least corrupt in 2012, alongside Finland.

Among Asia-Pacific countries, New Zealand was first, followed by Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. China ranked 80th overall.

The Philippines ranked 94th, faring slightly better than Thailand (102), Indonesia (114) and Vietnam (116).

The most corrupt countries were still Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan tied at last place, unchanged from last year.

The Berlin-based institute measures perceptions of graft rather than actual levels due to the secrecy that surrounds most corrupt dealings. It uses a scale where 100 stands.

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