Corruption—A Social & Moral Cancer (2)

Corruption–A Social & Moral Cancer (1)

On Achieving Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness:RP’S PROBLEMS WITH AID GO BEYOND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation said that a recent international study which showed that the Philippines lacks transparency and accountability in aid disbursement only confirmed what broadband scandal whistleblower Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. described as a “dysfunctional” official development assistance (ODA) system.

The Baseline Study and Survey of the Government of the Philippines’ Compliance with the Paris Declaration Commitments was made by the Harmonization Committee on Aid Effectiveness, which includes the NEDA. The Paris Declaration is a set of reforms aimed at improving the effectiveness of aid in reducing poverty and inequality in recipient countries.

IBON said that the anomalous infrastructure projects such as the national broadband network (NBN), funded by Chinese loans and is now under Senate inquiry, is an example of how the country’s foreign aid system is easily subverted by political influence-peddling.

Another example is the North Luzon Railways Project (NorthRail) deal whose two components are meant to be financed largely with US$960 million in concessional loans from China allegedly involved some US$50-100 million in “commissions” to high-ranking government officials. The ZTE-NBN fiasco in turn allegedly involved US$130 million in kickbacks out of a US$329 million deal.

Anomalies like these are ultimately shouldered by the Filipino people through illegitimate debt service burdens for projects with unjustifiably low or even negative social and economic returns. Political influence over loan decisions has been aggravated by procedural changes in early 2007 which weakened the control of the NEDA-led Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) over foreign-assisted infrastructure projects.

The Paris Declaration was adopted by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of bilateral donors, under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2005.

According to the research think-tank, the country needs to institute deeper reforms beyond the Paris Declaration to correct flaws in the ODA system.

For one, aid remains oriented towards furthering donor foreign policy interests more than the country’s considerable development needs, as in the case of Japan and the US. Aid from multilateral agencies has also continued to have attached explicit and implicit conditionalities inimical to the interests of the Filipino people.

Donors have also used aid to advance their foreign policy interests at the expense of the country. Japan, overwhelmingly the country’s largest donor, has effectively been using its past and current yen loan packages as leverage for the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). Government economic managers themselves have argued that non-ratification of the JPEPA could antagonize the country’s biggest aid source. The 27th and 28th yen loan packages have been reported to be worth at least P67 billion.

The US, in turn, has been taking advantage of its being the country’s largest source of grant aid to revive, expand and deepen its military presence especially in Mindanao but also in conflict-affected areas across the country. There has been US$460 million in US aid over the 2004-2007 period, not yet including some US$20 million yearly in P.L. 480 loans to purchase US food surpluses.

The biggest loans of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have had “free market” policy conditionalities attached to them since at least the 1980s. These have required changes in overall macroeconomic and sectoral policy frameworks, as well as gone into very specific implementation details.

The World Bank’s US$250-million Development Policy Loan (DPL) in 2006 for instance was essentially given because of the government’s harsh fiscal austerity including cutbacks on social services, the imposition of new taxes, and continued power sector privatization.

IBON believes that the Paris Declaration also has its basic flaws, among these is its narrow focus on aid delivery and management outside of a development, human rights, gender and social justice framework. A broader conception of aid accountability and demand for results is needed.

There are also key developmental issues not in the Paris Declaration. This includes the removal of policy conditionalities, measures to address debt burdens, the need to increase grant aid, de-linking aid from donor foreign policy interests, and sanctioning donors for aid projects that violate human rights and have other adverse impacts.

The inclusion of important concerns such as tied aid and the accountability of donors is welcome in principle, but according to IBON, the commitments here are unclear with time frames and targets conspicuously ambiguous

8 OUT OF 10 FILIPINOS DOUBT GOVERNMENT’S CLAIM OF

IBON SURVEY
8 OUT OF 10 FILIPINOS DOUBT GOVERNMENT’S CLAIM OF
IMPROVING ECONOMY

As Malacañang continues to hype the country’s economic gains, most respondents to the latest IBON nationwide survey remain doubtful of this claim.

Asked if they believe there is truth to the government’s pronouncement that the economy has improved, 79.7% of the 1,503 respondents said no. This is an increase from the 75.4% share in the October 2007 survey round.

The January 2008 IBON survey was conducted across various sectors nationwide from January 7 to 14. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus three percent. (end)

Below is the tabulation of results of respondents’ perception of government’s pronouncement of an improving economy.  

In your opinion, is there truth to the government’s pronouncement that the economy has improved?

 

October
2007

 

January 2008

 

 

Frequency

Percentage

Frequency

Percentage

Yes

         187

      12.48

         165

      10.98

No

      1,130

      75.43

      1,199

      79.77

Don’t Know

         157

      10.48

           94

        6.25

No answer

           24

        1.60

           45

        2.99

 

      1,498

 

      1,503

 

 

 

 

             

IBON Survey / February 14, 2008

IBON Survey / February 14, 2008
For reference: Ms Rosario Bella Guzman (IBON executive editor)


IBON SURVEY
MOST FILIPINOS WANT ARROYO TO STEP DOWN DUE TO CORRUPTION CHARGES

Recent corruption scandals besetting the Arroyo administration have led most Filipinos to call for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down, according to the results of the latest IBON survey.

Asked if they were aware of calls made recently by members of the Church and other sectoral groups for Pres. Arroyo to resign from office and face corruption charges leveled against her, 75% of the total 1,503 survey respondents said yes.

Of these, 77.4% said they agreed with such call to step down.

Various interfaith and sectoral groups such as Solidarity Philippines, Concerned Citizens Group, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, among others, have called for a rejection of what they called as Pres. Arroyo’s morally bankrupt government.

The IBON nationwide survey was conducted from January 7 to 14, 2008, with 1,503 respondents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent. (end)

 

Below is the tabulation of results of the respondents’ perception of the Church and sectoral groups’ call for Pres. Arroyo to step down due to corruption allegations against her administration.

Are you aware that in recent months, bishops and other sectoral organizations have demanded that PGMA resign from office and face the corruption allegations leveled against her?

Yes

      75.38

No

      24.02

No answer

        0.60

                                                                                        

Do you agree with the calls of bishops and other groups for President Arroyo to step down because of widespread corruption under her regime?                                                                                         

Yes

      77.41

No

      12.89

Dont Know

        8.83

No answer

        0.88

 

 

 

Nueva Ecija solon files snap election bill in House

Nueva Ecija solon files snap election bill in House
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:28:00 02/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — An independent member of the House of Representatives has filed a bill seeking a snap presidential election on May 26 amid mounting protests against the Arroyo administration in light of allegations of corruption in the national broadband network deal (NBN) and other scandals.

Nueva Ecija Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson filed the bill on Monday in an attempt to being closure “to the many accusations being hurled against the administration.”

Under Joson’s bill, the election will only be for president, with the winner to serve out only the remainder of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term until June 30, 2010 and be ineligible for reelection.

The bill appropriates P2 billion for the proposed polls.

“The truth hounds. The truth haunts and the truth hurts. This is the primary objective of this proposal: To prevent danger and harm to our people precisely because in the search for truth and justice, someone will get hurt in the process,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“[It] will be ironic and a tragedy if our people will be the victims of such search for truth and justice,” Joson added.

Joson pointed out that a snap election was held in 1986 to find out whether the dictator Ferdinand Marcos still had the trust and confidence of the people.

“A new mandate was necessary at the time to preempt growing opposition to his rule and the consensus at the time was that he could still win if elections were held then. The allegations of mis-governance were the same then and now,” Joson said.

Section Two of Joson’s bill says that if passed, the law will be deemed as “a political question based on historical precedent.”

“[This] could ultimately be decided only by the members of [Congress] as the duly elected representatives of the people in the first instance and by the people as the repository of sovereign authority,” the bill says.

Bishop urges new kind of people power

Lagdameo: It’s for truth and to end corruption By Beverly T. Natividad
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — The head of an influential group of Roman Catholic bishops Tuesday raised the possibility of a new brand of “people power” that would spur people to bring out the truth and end corruption that had kept the country hostage to the “greed of power-holders.”

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that a “convergence of bearers of truths” could save the country.

Backed by the Church hierarchy, Jaime Cardinal Sin called on people power and hundreds of thousands of Filipinos responded and toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Lagdameo told reporters after meeting with about 50 civic, student and business groups that the massive anticorruption movement that ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001 was a disappointment because it “installed a President who later on was judged by surveys as the most corrupt president.”

Lagdameo was apparently referring to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who became President after Estrada was ousted.

“We went from one frying pan to a worse frying pan,” he said.

Referring to the recent CBCP call for “communal action,” Lagdameo said that if, by consensus, “the communal action is people power, it will have to be a different ‘brand.’ It will not be simply a repeat of the past … The movements of some groups for a national campaign against corruption may be a sign.”

At the meeting, civil society groups asked the Church leadership to guide and spearhead “communal actions.”

“They want clearer guidance and leadership. They want to see us with them,” said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz after he, Lagdameo and Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez held a dialogue with various sectoral groups.

Cruz said the bishops listened in order to know the “what, how and when” of the planned communal actions.

Lagdameo made the comments amid mounting calls for Ms Arroyo to resign as a Senate inquiry looks into alleged bribery in the scrapped $329-million broadband deal with China’s ZTE Corp.

Priests and nuns have offered refuge to a key witness in the Senate investigation — a former consultant for the project, Rodolfo Lozada Jr. — amid threats to his life. They have also organized prayer protests and joined street rallies calling for Ms Arroyo’s resignation and a clean government.

Who’s who

Lagdameo called for a “brand new people power” and said a campaign against corruption in government may be a start.

Among those who attended the dialogue were representatives of the Black and White Movement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Makati Business Club, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Kubol Pag-Asa, Gabriela, Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Bangon Pilipinas, National Council of Churches of the Philippines, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, Solidarity Philippines and the La Salle Brothers.

But even Lagdameo’s presence at the meeting does not signify that the CBCP has already joined the movement against the Arroyo administration.

Lagdameo said he attended the meeting only as the archbishop of Jaro.

“That’s why I attended this meeting, because I will bring this message to my brother bishops,” he said.

On Monday, Lagdameo lauded the successful holding of “communal action” undertaken by civil society in response to the bishops’ call.

Apparently referring to Lozada, Lagdameo said in a statement: “Imagine, with just one courageous person willing to witness to the Truth, some good things are already starting to happen, like the exposition of other scams, lies, deceits, ‘moderate and immoderate greed’.

“We hope and encourage that other courageous and inspired persons will emerge to tell or expose or humbly face the truth, whose concealment had made our country captive to corruption and greed of power-holders.”

Lagdameo told reporters the challenge to Filipinos today was to find “how to express its new brand of people power.”

He said he was optimistic that the civil society groups he met may have already found some of the answers to this challenge.

Not just talking

Cruz said that no clear action had yet resulted from the meeting.

Both sides, he said, only committed themselves to a continuing dialogue but would come out with a more concrete agenda soon.

“This is not the end of this. Our agreement does not stop here. And this will not be just talking but definitely there will be doing and acting,” said Cruz.

He said the dialogue with civil society was gaining ground because more people were joining it. With a report from Associated Press