By Carlos H. Conde
MANILA — Expatriate businessmen in Asia perceive the Philippines as the most corrupt country in the region, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Singapore was ranked as the least corrupt of the 13 economies surveyed, followed by Hong Kong and Japan, according to the annual corruption survey conducted by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, based in Hong Kong.
“The Philippines has the distinction of being perceived in the worst light this year,” the survey stated. “People are just growing tired of the inaction and insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption.”
The survey, conducted in January and February, queried 1,476 expatriate executives in 13 countries and territories in Asia. The Philippines scored 9.40, where a score of zero is the least corrupt and 10 is the most corrupt.
In the 2006 survey, in which Indonesia was regarded as the most corrupt, the Philippines scored 7.80. Indonesia improved its score to 8.03 this year, a development that the report credits to a government anti-corruption campaign.
The report noted, however, that for the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, where corruption is systemic, “it is really splitting hairs to say which one has a worse problem.”
“The Philippines has been getting the least amount of foreign direct investment, and the level of foreign capital flowing to its stock market is also less than in either Indonesia or Thailand,” the report noted.
To the question “How effective is the judicial system at prosecuting and punishing individuals for corruption when abuses are uncovered?” the respondents gave the Philippines a score of 9.06, with 10 being “ineffective.”
The poll is certain to rile President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has claimed that her government’s efforts against corruption are bearing fruit. Arroyo hired Tony Kwok, an anti-corruption crusader from Hong Kong credited for stamping out corruption in the Chinese territory, as an adviser in 2005.
To the question “To what extent is corruption a deterrent to your willingness to invest and expand your business?” the Philippines scored 8.50, with 10 reflecting “a major deterrent.”
Local corruption monitors confirm that graft and bribery in the Philippines remain rampant. Corruption has penetrated every level of government, from the Bureau of Customs down to the traffic police officers who pull over motorists to demand bribes.
Nearly $2 billion dollars, or roughly 13 percent of the Philippines’ annual budget, is lost to corruption in the country each year, according to the United Nations Development Program.
Editor’s note: The above article is a repost from a piece written by Carlos H. Conde published in the New York Times’ business section eight years ago. It is still perceived that until this day it is still very true if it does not grow worst.