By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang is reiterating its call for the public to cooperate with the President Duterte’s campaign to end corruption in government, a problem the President said is what ails the country the most.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after the Philippines was ranked 111th of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2017, or one of the countries which made little progress in ending corruption.
The 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), released on Wednesday, revealed that the Philippines scored 34 out of 100, slightly lower than the country’s score in 2016 which was 35. This was the country’s lowest score in the index in five years.
The Philippines, alongside India and Maldives, is also among the most corrupt countries in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand and Denmark were named the least corrupt countries, with scores of 89 and 88, respectively.
Syria, South Sudan and Somalia, meanwhile, ranked lowest in the index, scoring 14, 12 and nine, respectively.
According to Roque, they are taking the said ranking seriously, however noting that the problem of corruption cannot be resolved overnight.
“We have to underscore that corruption is a problem that cannot be solved overnight; thus, we are taking the results of Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2017, which shows our 111th (out of 180) ranking, seriously,” Roque said this morning.
“Fighting corruption needs everyone’s cooperation. The government cannot do it alone. Citizens must be vigilant and report corruption,” he added.
Roque pointed out that the Berlin-based global anti-corruption coalition factored in the protection of the press and nongovernmental organizations in its ranking. The group mentioned the Philippines as among countries which score high for corruption, have fewer press freedom, and higher number of journalist death.
“Transparency International even cited that every week at least one journalist is killed in a country that is highly corrupt, which is not the case in the Philippines.” Roque said.
“There is no truth that we have fewer press freedom. Our media are still able to broadcast and print or publish what they want – fake news included. Filipinos are free to air their grievances with the President even declaring an unprecedented Day of Protest,” he added.
The Palace official also noted how Duterte acted swiftly with the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to ensure the protection of media practitioners.
Roque, citing record from the PTFoMS, said all murder cases involving journalists during the Duterte administration have been solved.
“In addition, public officials who threatened media workers have been “red flagged” to show that we work without fear or favor,” he said.
Roque also said that Duterte likewise gave a stern warning to government officials and employees that he would not tolerate corruption during his watch.
“The Chief Executive fired many government officials, including members of the Cabinet, once he heard even a whiff of corruption,” Roque said.
Roque also noted of the President’s efforts in trying to curb corruption in government, like the issuance of Executive Order No. 43 creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and opened a citizens’ complaint hotline 8888.
One of Duterte’s campaign promises is eliminating graft and corruption in government, along with eradicating crime and illegal drugs, maintaining peace and order and improving the economy.
The latest official Duterte severed ties with due to alleged corruption was Social Security System (SSS) Commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña whose term expired June 30, 2017 and was serving a holdover capacity until Duterte decided to not renew his term.
“Let this be a reminder to all public officials that the President is serious in curbing corruption and has strong resolve to promote good governance,” Roque said last week.