Philippines drops further in corruption rating, lowest since 2012

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·3 min read
TOPSHOT - A bulldozer crushes luxury vehicles at a ceremony at the customs yard in Manila on February 6, 2018, after they were seized for being smuggled illegally.
President Duterte watched bulldozers flatten dozens of sports cars and other luxury vehicles February 6 as part of a drive to fight corruption at the country's customs bureau. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE        (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A bulldozer crushes luxury vehicles at a ceremony at the customs yard in Manila on February 6, 2018, after they were seized for being smuggled illegally. President Duterte watched bulldozers flatten dozens of sports cars and other luxury vehicles February 6 as part of a drive to fight corruption at the country's customs bureau. (Photo:TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Philippines has continued to drop in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, placing 117th out of 180 countries and territories in the index.

The country dropped two places from its rank in 2020, during the first year of the pandemic. Its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) was 33, a one-point difference from the previous year and its lowest since 2012.

According to its website, Transparency International is a global movement working in over 100 countries to end the “injustice of corruption.” They are an independent, non-governmental, and not-for-profit organization.

The organization noted that despite the rise of mass movements against corruption in Asia, it has been co-opted by strongmen or populist leaders and authoritarians.

The Philippines’ neighboring countries in the Asia Pacific also recorded among the lowest scores in the CPI: Cambodia (23), Afghanistan (16), and North Korea (16).

“Since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has also seen a sharp decline in freedom of association and freedom of expression, making it harder to speak up about corruption. In 2020, it was the country with the second-highest number of murdered human rights defenders, with a total of 25 deaths,” said the report.

Transparency International also highlighted the importance of accountability alongside the rollout of economic recovery plans during the pandemic.

“Wrongdoing in emergency procurement has led to price inflating, the theft of medical supplies and sales of counterfeit medicines and materials. This left many citizens more vulnerable to COVID-19 – and almost certainly cost lives,” it said.

Moreover, the report said that pandemic protocols have been used as an excuse to suppress criticism or to adopt authoritarian approaches, such as in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Ranked alongside the Philippines are Algeria, Egypt, Zambia, and Nepal, all with a 33/100 score in the index.

The CPI is used to measure corruption in a country’s public sector, based on experts and businesspeople. The data comes from three data sources that draw from 13 different corruption surveys and assessments. The higher the CPI, the less corrupt a country is. A mark of 100 means a country is seen as clean while 0 means they’re highly corrupt.

The data they use to measure the CPI covers bribery, diversion of public funds, officials using public office for private gain, the ability of governments to contain corruption in the public sector,

and laws ensuring that public officials must disclose their finances and potential conflict of interest, among others.

The Philippines was a “significant decliner,” having gone down 5 points since 2014, according to the organization.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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