An advocacy group has expressed concern over the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 and the perception of increasing corruption in the country on Filipino consumers.
“Corruption is a disease now destroying our institutions, a viral plague that has been victimizing our people for generations,” Louie Montemar, convenor of Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3), said in a statement.
Montemar issued the statement after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night placed Metro Manila under community quarantine to limit the movements of the people.
Montermar said that “just like COVID-19, the global corruption has also spread unabatedly” and that “there has been no potent cure to eradicate corruption and fraud”. Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion and other illicit financial flows cost developing countries $1.26 trillion per year, according to Transparency International.
Montemar said that in the Philippines, an official of the Ombudsman estimated that the government is losing P700 billion a year because of corruption.
A study based on 5,000 businessmen from 99 countries revealed that over $42 billion were lost to corrupt transactions. This is according to the recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey covering the last two years. About 14 percent of respondents claimed losing business to companies who paid bribes.
President Duterte has repeatedly expressed frustration over the problem of pervasive corruption in government despite his stern warnings and firing of some suspected government officials.
Montemar said the PWC study reinforces the results of the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index where the Philippines dropped to 34 points on a scale where the perfect score of 100 is “very clean” and zero is “highly corrupt”. The Asia Pacific region averaged 43 while the international average is 45 points.
“It is very alarming that the recent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation revealed P14 billion in ‘suspicious transactions’ disclosed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council and foreign currency smuggling estimated at $633 million are linked to POGOs. This can only be done under the tolerated operations of criminal syndicates,” Montemar said.
“Why is our government tolerating what seems like a creeping invasion of Chinese nationals working in an industry outlawed in their own country?”
“This obvious preference is suspicious while some of the most established local enterprises like Manila Water, Maynilad and ABS-CBN are under threat with punishment, takeover or closure because of alleged violations. The timing and weaponized rule of law tactics shows that there must be a hidden agenda,” Montemar said.