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MANILA - The high ratings given to President Benigno Aquino III and his administration by the business community may lead to complacency, Transparency and Accountability Network said on Wednesday.
During the SWS Surveys of Enterprises on Corruption presentation, Vincent Lazatin, TAN executive director, said the high ratings for the President may give him a false sense of security, which would keep him from acting on the need to pass the Freedom of Information bill and to act on the corruption charges against former Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno.
Malacanang has not included the FOI bill in the roster of urgent bills for the 15th Congress. Puno, who is a close friend of Aquino, resigned in the wake of allegations he was behind the purchase of overpriced firearms for the Philippine National Police.
"The President has wiggle room not to do anything on some issues, which creates problems as it lowers the tolerance to what is allowable," Lazatin said.
This despite the clamor by civil society for the government to act on the aforementioned issues since the Aquino administration has been receiving high marks both from the public and the business community, as shown by the recent SWS and Pulse Asia surveys.
According to Pulse Asia, Aquino's approval and trust ratings were both at 78 percent in September, an improvement from the 67 percent approval and 65 percent trust ratings achieved in May.
SWS president Mahar Mangahas on Wednesday showed that 65 percent of those enterprises surveyed said the steps taken by the administration to eradicate graft and corruption were somewhat effective. About 52 percent of those surveyed said some of the steps taken were somewhat effective.
Leading this "radical progress" was the rating on the Office of the President in terms of its sincerity in fighting corruption. From 2006 to 2009, the President had received ratings of -15, -3,-27, and -37, respectively. This suddenly shifted by 118 points when this year businesses gave the a rating of +81.
The agencies that have seen improvements in terms of sincerity to fight corruption are as follows:
- Department of Health: from +37 in 2009 to +60 in 2012;
- Department of Trade and Industry: +38 to +59;
- Department of Education: 0 to +49;
- Senate: -1 to +38;
- Office of the Ombudsman: -8 to +38;
- Sandiganbayan: +8 to +27;
- DILG: -25 to to +27;
- Municipal govt: +35 to +24;
- Supreme Court: +40 t0 23;
- Department of Budget and Management: -17 to +22;
- Department of Transportation and Communication: -30 to +10;
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources: -34 to +1;
- House of Representatives: -34 to -2; and
- Philippine National Police: -17 to -8.
The institutions with poor ratings that have improved are:
- Commission on Elections: -8 to -14;
- Bureau of Internal Revenue: -57 to -18;
- Department of Public Works and Highways: -65 to -23; and
- Land Transportation Office: -39 to -26.
The Bureau of Customs is the sole agency with a bad rating of -69 in 2009 to -45 in 2012.
The SWS survey also showed that businesses allot 20 percent of the cost of a government project to bribes, thus pushing actual costs up.
The proportion of executives solicited for any of seven types of bribes in the previous year is at a new low of 48 percent in 2012 from 60 percent in 2009 and a high of 71 percent in 2008. The 2012 solicitation rates for the various bribes are:
- Getting permits/licenses 30 percent;
- Assessment/payment of income taxes 26 percent;
- Getting national government permits/licenses 19 percent;
- Complying with import regulations/paying import duties 17 percent;
- Supplying government with goods/services 14 percent;
- Collecting receivables from government 13 percent; and
- Availing of government incentives 6 percent
While there had been marked improvements in the perception on corruption in the public sector, there was barely any movement in the corruption rates among the private sector.
The SWS showed that 11 percent of business executives surveyed said there is a lot of corruption in the private sector; 37 percent said some; 44 percent, a little; and 8 percent, none.
Mangahas said the private sector is not in step with the improvements in terms of fighting corruption in the public sector. He said the results of the survey were "bad" in a sense that they were expecting improvements also in this area but seeing that it is the same as in the past is "disappointing."
"Although executives see less corruption in the private sector than in the public sector, the situation is also serious and has not improved. The tendency of companies in their own sector to give bribes to win private contracts is more or less unchanged," Mangahas said.
The 2012 Survey of Enterprises on Corruption was supported by the Australian Agency for International Development through the Asia Foundation, in partnership with the Makati Business Club's Integrity Initiative program and the National Competitiveness Council.
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