As anybody reading this likely knows, the Philippines has a new President, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. Today, June 30, Noynoy will take the Oath of Office and officially become the new President of the Philippines. One of President Aquino’s big campaign promises was that he was going to put an end to corruption in the Philippine Government.
Do you think that President Noynoy reads LiP? Well, you never know, he might just read the Live in the Philippine Web Magazine to keep abreast of what is going on in the Expat Community here in the Philippines! Who knows, maybe he checks LiP for advice on how to tackle problems? Ha ha. I doubt it, but just in case, today, I want to offer my plan to end corruption in the Philippines! If you read this, President Aquino, congratulations to you, and good luck in the coming 6 years, I hope that you enjoy many successes.
MindanaoBob’s plan to end corruption in the Philippines
There is no topic on LiP that gets people more worked up than corruption in the Philippines. On topics that even seem far removed from the topic of corruption, many readers always raise the corruption issue in their comments here. Not enough tourism in the Philippines? It must be because of the corruption! The stores are always out of stock on basic goods? Corruption strikes again! Corruption seems to always be the blame, regardless of the question.
Well, as I have pointed out in replies to comments many times, corruption is not really something that affects my life directly. I have never paid a bribe here, nor have I even been asked for one. That said, there is no doubt that corruption exists, both in the government and in the private sector. All you have to do is watch the news, or listen to people tell of their experiences, and you will know that corruption is a big problem here.
The problem is, how do you stop it? Stopping it will not be easy, and in my opinion it cannot be accomplished in a 6 year term in office for the new President. Of course, he can get a start on it, but completing the task will be a tall, tall order for President Noynoy.
There are lots of forms of corruption, but probably the biggest is in the form of paying or receiving bribes. Yes, the person paying the bribe is also corrupt! One way to end corruption would be for every person to refuse to pay a bribe for anything. Frankly, though, that won’t happen, so there must be measures to make that happen, and also to stop officials from asking for or demanding bribes. How do you do it?
Well, my plan would cost money, and would really throw an upheaval into many lives, particularly of government workers. Corruption rears it’s head from the highest levels of any government agency, right down to the more “regular” employees like clerks and such. That’s why a change must be implemented to shake up government agencies at all levels.
My first piece of advice to President Aquino is to shake up the employment at every office of every government agency. So, for example, at the Immigration Bureau (or any other agency office) here in Davao City, transfer each and every employee to an Immigration Bureau office in a different city. No two employees from the Davao office would go to the same office in any city in the Philippines. Do the same at every other Immigration office in the country. This way, every office has an entire group of new employees. One of the problems with having a group of employees who have worked together for years is that they are too comfortable with each other. If one employee is engaging in corruption, taking bribes or whatever, other employees may not “tell on them” because they are friends of many years. Also, these networks of employees who are friends may have corruption schemes in which they work together and share the proceeds. So, by separating every single employee and sending them to different offices around the country, you are breaking up rings of people who may have a tendency toward corruption.
Next step, choose maybe 10% of existing office employees in each government office who are “secret corruption czars”. Pay them double the salary that they normally get. It is now their duty to do their regular job, but also to watch for corruption and report it. If they do not report corruption they are fired. Nobody can reveal who the “secret or undercover czars” are, so every employee will never know for sure who is watching them. Ten percent of the employees in each office will be on the lookout for corrupt practices, and will report any suspicion of corruption to a higher authority outside the office.
Start a big TV, Print and radio campaign telling businessmen and “regular” citizens to report any attempted corruption. If you are asked for a bribe, you should report it to a new, special anti-corruption bureau that will keep your name secret and prosecute the corrupt official. If you are asked for a bribe and do not report it, and that is later found out, you face a prison term. If you are a businessman and you have bid on a project to do work for the government, if it is later learned that you have paid a bribe to get the contract, you must complete the work and will be paid only half the contract amount, less the bribe amount. So, for example, if the contract amount for the job is P10M, and you paid the commissioner a P1M bribe to get the contract, you could end up having to do the work for P4M (half of P10M, less the P1M bribe amount, thus P4M). If the work you do is of substandard quality, there will be fines and also jail time.
If you are an upper level government employee, either in Manila, or in regional or city offices, in more of a “management” type position of authority, before you are given the job, you must give a list of 10 assets that you own which will basically be collateral in the case that you are caught in a corruption scheme. For example, you might list your car, house, or whatever. The reason is that many corrupt people will put their assets into other people’s names in order to avoid those assets being seized. For example, the house is in the wife’s name, the car is in the brother’s name, or whatever. In such cases, a person is basically “judgment proof” in that even if he loses a judgment in court, he has no assets to be seized. When you issue a list of assets that you actually own, you can then be given the job. If later you are caught with your “hand in the cookie jar” some or all of those assets will be seized. If, during your time on the job, you sell or change the title on any of the assets you listed, you must replace those assets on the list with assets of similar value. If you have no assets you cannot have the job in question. In case you are found guilty of a corruption charge, you will forfeit assets equivalent to double the value of the corruption that you committed. So, if you are found to have taken bribes amounting to P20M, you must now forfeit assets with a value of P40M. Of course, there will be jail time too.
If you are a private citizen or businessman, and a government official has demanded a bribe, and you report the attempt to the special office that I mentioned earlier, if that official is convicted of the bribery attempt and must surrender his assets, as I said in the previous paragraph, you will receive a reward equal to the amount of the bribe that was requested. So, for example, if a contractor is to build a road that costs P50M, and the government official asks for a bribe of P2M, if you reported that bribe request and the man is convicted, he will have to forfeit P4M in assets to the Government. You will get P2M worth of those assets as a reward.
If you are a government employee and a businessman attempts to bribe you, you should also report him to the anti-corruption office. If the businessman is convicted of the attempted bribe, he will also be forced to forfeit assets, and you, as the employee who reported him will also be eligible for a reward in the case.
So, under this system, government workers will be watching each other. Businessmen and citizens will be watching the government employees. Government workers will be watching businessmen. Everybody will be keeping an eye out.
Is the system perfect? I’m sure it’s not. False reports could happen. Other bad things might occur. But, something has to be done to start the ball rolling. This is my simple plan. I am sure that President Aquino will have his own plan on how to attack the problem, and I wish him luck! How about you, do you have a plan?