A consumer advocacy group has warned that the rising corruption, abuse of power and the use of “weaponized” rule of law in the country will eventually hurt the economy and the Filipino consumers.
Louie Montemar, convenor of Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente, expressed concern over reports that bribery and corruption in the country worsened over the last two years as the government was trying to force several major companies out of business.
“Despite the government’s pronounced campaign to fight corruption, what is happening is the opposite and we fear that this will eventually shortchange the Filipino consumers,” Montemar said.
Montemar made the statement after a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers which covered 101 businesses in the Philippines found that 43 percent of respondents encountered fraud at least twice, while a tenth said they experienced such incidents over the past six to 12 times.
About 21 percent of respondents said they were asked to pay a bribe while 14 percent said they lost an opportunity to a competitor who they believed paid a bribe.
“This is concerning as businesses operating in the Philippines may be more likely to contemplate paying bribes as a feasible option to take in order to win business opportunities against competitors,” the PwC study said.
This is consistent with the 2019 report of Transparency International which ranked the Philippines as 113th least corrupt among 180 countries and territories. The Philippines dropped 14 places from 99th in 2018, making the 2019 spot as country’s lowest ranking since 2012.
Montemar said many businesses are worried over the perception of rising corruption and abuse of power by those who are in power. He cited the cases of Manila Water Co., Maynilad Water Services Inc. and ABS-CBN Corp. which are in danger of losing their businesses.
He said that in particular, ABS-CBN may shut down by May if Congress decides not to renew the broadcast network’s legislative franchise or if the Supreme Court listens to the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Montemar said this would eventually hurt consumers as ABS-CBN is preferred by many companies as their main advertising platform.