Combatting Corruption in the Philippines
Posted by butalidnl on 14 June 2010
All eyes are now on Noynoy Aquino, who ran on an anti-corruption platform and won the presidency. Now he has to get going and start fighting corruption. But his task is big, very big. So, where should Noynoy start? How is he to address such a widespread problem?
Wealth Recovery over Conviction
I feel that the fight against corruption should mainly be about recovering ill-gotten wealth. And secondary to this would be the incarceration of those who are corrupt. I say this because I feel that the government tends to take the route of filing a criminal complaint against those suspected of corruption; which takes so long to finish, and which actually limits the government’s ability to tackle the widespread corruption in the country. Instead of taking the “legal” approach to corruption. I will suggest the “administrative” approach should be taken. Take the money back, put them in a black list for government jobs and contracts, and that’s all. No need to put anyone in jail, if the money is returned.
I suggest that a special anti-corruption task force be formed to check the whole government bureaucracy and handle the complaints from citizens. This could be made up of officials from the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission, Dept. of Local Government, and other bodies. This task force will do its job independent of the Ombudsman’s office. It will concentrate more on “life style checks”, and on checking to see if contracts are not disadvantageous to the government; the Ombudsman could still concentrate on filing cases against officials accused of corruption.
To help make sure that the anti-corruption task force is itself not corrupt; perhaps there should be two of these, and they should also check each other. Also put in some students, members of cause oriented groups, to help keep them honest. And then give the team members specific term limits.
And the government should also beef up its judiciary – a lot more fiscals and judges would need to be designated to handle the increased case load. Of course, this should be preceded by a thorough check of judges for their honesty.
In order to fight corruption, the government will need to be aided by “citizen whistleblowers” who would expose the corrupt officials. And by “expose”, I do not mean just accusing anyone left or right, but by presenting documentation or proof of corruption – either by the “life-style check” approach, or by the “transaction” approach. By the life-style check approach, I mean that the citizen could prove that the official could not have earned the money needed to buy all the things he owned; and thus must have earned it through illegal, corrupt means. And by transaction approach, I mean that the citizen could prove that kickbacks or other corrupt practices occurred.
And the reason that citizens would come forward with well-documented charges of corruption is that there would be reward that would be taken from the confiscated property. Let’s say that the government would offer citizens 5% of the confiscated property, tax-free, for evidence that will lead to the confiscation of a corrupt official’s property. This should be incentive enough for many to try and expose people.
The whistleblower should present real evidence, though, in order to avoid that innocent people get accused. There should be receipts, documents, photos, etc. presented as proof. The citizen – whistleblower should be able to present his case through the internet – giving him full anonymity. There will be a lot money to earn by exposing corrupt officials, and I expect that there will be a lot of submissions.