We find the launching this month by the Duterte administration of an anti-corruption program most propitious, given that high corruption rungs have severely restricted the efficiency of businesses operating in the Philippines.
Some independent studies have shown that extensive bribery within the public administration, not to mention vague and complex laws which make foreign firms vulnerable to extortion and manipulation by public officials.
At the same time favoritism and undue influence are, according to these studies, widespread in the courts, which leads to time-consuming and unfair dispute resolutions, and to an uncertain business environment.
The studies, validated to some extent by experiences of some who transact business with agencies of the government, suggest that corruption plagues the Customs administration, and fraud “routinely occurs for companies when filing import and export documentation.”
Double-dealing and misconduct have also been observed in the police and military, the public services, land administration, among some areas where fraud and wrongdoing breathe like incorrigible monsters.
Analysts have identified some causes of corruption, jobbery or palm-greasing as greed of money and desires, higher levels of market and political monopolization, low levels of democracy, weak civil participation and low political transparency, higher levels of bureaucracy and inefficient administrative structures, low press freedom as well as low economic freedom.
But the launching of the anti-corruption program dubbed “Katarungan Desk” the government has said will serve as a reporting platform for the public can be a small step for an eventual giant stride.
It is in the reporting platform where the public—from Tawi Tawi to Batanes—can submit complaints against government irregularities.
We raise our hope that the desks will be properly manned and complaints submitted attended to immediately to let complainants feel they are getting justice, in line with the Filipino meaning of the Desk.
We believe Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chief Greco Belgica when he said during the launch in Malacañang that the Desk is aimed at developing “a responsive and safe reporting platform that will address all complaints of injustice and corruption, and which will be placed in every barangay, city hall and other places.”
The Desk faces a challenge. Filipinos are watching.