Holding on!

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THE Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) just recently released the annual survey results of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2009. The country's CPI level for this year is 2.4, holding the 139th position out of the 180 countries which participated in this year's survey.

Thus with this standing, the Philippines is part of the 13th most corrupt countries in the world for this year, joining Pakistan, Belarus and Bangladesh.

Somalia came out as the most corrupt country in the world for this year, with a score of 1.1 and rank of 180th. Not surprisingly, New Zealand came out as the least corrupt country this year with a score of 9.4 at the 1st rank.

A CPI score near 10 is categorized as least corrupt, and a score near 1 is more corrupt.

IN 2008 the Philippines scored 2.3 at the 141st rank, making it as one of the 12th most corrupt countries out of 180, joining Cameroon, Iran and Yemen.

Does this mean that the Philippines is making improvements, albeit slightly (or faintly), in its efforts to curb corruption in the country?

An online nationwide polling survey among various Ehem anticorruption networks from the period mid-August to mid-November revealed some mixed views. The poll question was: "The Philippines ranked as one of the 12th most corrupt countries in the world in 2008. Do you think the country will improve its standing for 2009?"

94 online voters participated in the poll, and their responses were distributed into:
  • 35 votes (37%) - Yes, it will improve
  • 40 votes (43%) - No, it will worsen
  • 19 votes (20%) - Not Sure
  • 94 votes (100%) - FINAL RESULT
The survey results showed mixed feelings of hopelessness (that it will worsen) and hopefulness (that it will improve), with a noticeable margin of uncertainty (not sure). The slight (and faint) positive and negative changes in its CPI score and ranking could also reveal that the country might just be holding on.

This is not the first time that the country exhibited a holding-on pattern, despite all the unresolved national scandals in the government. From the years 2002-2004, the Philippines registered 2.6-2.5-2.6 CPI behavior. This is a critical period because of the infamous Hello Garci Scandal that rocked the election of President GMA in 2004. And in the 2005-2007 period, the country maintained a three-year 2.5 score, despite its being one of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world during this time. Thus, with the 2.3-2.4 CPI improvement and from being one of the 12th most corrupt countries to becoming one of the 13th most corrupt nations in 2008-2009, who can object?

Yes, we all aspire for a better world standing. But with all the corruption scandals and the certainty of electoral frauds towards the national and local elections in 2010, our CPI standing could have been worse!

This could be resilience showing among Filipino people. Just like in natural disasters and man-made catastrophes in the country, Filipinos hold on rather than completely fall apart.

With all the tragedy of government scandals and the impunity of corruption, all the more that the Filipino people need to summon resilience and hold on!


ASEAN connection

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THE Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) just recently released the annual survey results of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2009. How do members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) fare in their performance graphs for this year?

Singapore continues to maintain its rank as the only Southeast Asian country to be part of the top 10 least corrupt countries in the world. With a score of 9.2, it is the 3rd least corrupt among 180 countries in this year's CPI survey, next only to Denmark (9.4) and New Zealand (9.3).

Beside Singapore, three other countries are maintaining their 2008 CPI scores in the 2009 survey: Laos (2.0); Vietnam (2.7); and Timor Leste (2.2). Laos' over-all performance graph has revealed a drastic drop since its participation in 2005 with a CPI of 3.3.

Malaysia is experiencing a sharp drop in its CPI score of 4.5 in 2009 from a high 5.1 in 2008. For a long time, Malaysia is enjoying consistent fair ratings in CPI performance (5.0 and above), but this year's survey threatens the country's unassailable status. Its ranking is the lowest in the history of the country's anticorruption levels in 15 years. More than 70% of the Malaysian population have grown dissatisfied with the government's performance in curbing public sector corruption.

Thailand is experiencing only a slight deterioration with its 3.4 CPI score in 2009 from 3.5 in 2008. The survey turnout is somewhat unexpected for many anticorruption researchers and observers given Thailand's domestic troubles involving a prominent member of the Royal Family and the political turmoil in the Parliament (change of prime ministers in less than a year).

Experiencing slight improvements (1 to 2 points variances) are the Philippines (2.4 in 2009 from 2.3 in 2008); Indonesia (2.8 in 2009 from 2.6 in 2008); and Myanmar (1.4 in 2009 from 1.3 in 2008).

With the lowest CPI score, Myanmar (1.4) nevertheless appears as the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, followed by Laos (2.0), Timor Leste (2.2), the Philippines (2.4), and then Indonesia (2.8).

Both the Philippines and Indonesia used to compete for the rank of the most corrupt in Southeast Asia but for these past two to three years, both have also shown steady rise, though still volatile, in their CPI performance.

Indonesia's improvements can be attributed to President Susilo Yudhoyono's unprecedented efforts to crack down on government corruption.

For its part, the Philippine's slight improvement is attributable to the Filipino people's resilience and vibrant broad-based anticorruption initiatives in the private sector despite the many unresolved national scandals in government.

Over-all, Southeast Asian countries have maintained their momentum in their CPI performance graphs (+/- 1 to 2 points variances only) with the striking exception of Malaysia (6-point variance).

From fascination to conviction

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About five months since August, 11 proud international Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows (2009-2010) of the Fulbright Exchange Program are undertaking their Fellowship programs in the top-rank Maxwell school of Citizenship and Public Affairs in NY's Syracuse University. The Fellows represent 10 countries from all over the globe: India, Tunisia, Liberia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Moldova, South Korea and Israel.

The Fellows are chosen through a globally competitive screening and qualification system through the auspices of their respective Fulbright country commissions and the Institute of International Education (IIE) with grants from the US Department of State.

Each Fellow is expected to make good use of their professional expertise, experiences and dexterity through an exchange program with fellow counterparts from various participating countries. As Fellows, they will be attending special seminars, academic courses, site visits, agency visits and dialogs, professional development activities and professional affiliation activities that are all geared towards attaining their individual program plans for their country re-entry application.

Coming from a diversity of professions, academic credentials, unassailable experiences, fields of interest and expertise, personal advocacies and convictions, the Fellows are connected and bonded in the universal principles of effective leadership, good governance, networking and collaboration, conflict management and resolution, crisis management, citizenship and civil society initiatives among others. One of the perennial issues that keep cropping up is CORRUPTION.

For some, investigating and curbing corruption is a fascination. For others it is a passion. A few more press on as a matter of conviction.

In the interest of fascination, passion and conviction, it is worth looking deeper at the state of corruption among the Fellow's countries.

THE Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) just recently released the annual survey results of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2009. A CPI score near 10 is categorized as least corrupt, and a score near 1 is more corrupt. A median score of 5 is considered as fair.

The ranking of Maxwell-Humphrey Fellows' Countries in CPI-2009 survey showed the following:

1. Israel (6.1)
2. South Korea (5.5)
3. Tunisia (4.2)
4. India (3.4)
5. Moldova (3.3)
6. Liberia (3.1)
7. Dominican Republic (3.0)
8. Philippines (2.4)
9. Ecuador (2.2)
10. Sierra Leone (2.2)

Israel is taking the lead as the least corrupt, with a CPI score of 6.1 which is above the fair median ranking. This is followed by South Korea at 5.5 in CPI. The rest of the Fellow's countries have serious problems of corruption with a collective CPI scores ranging from 2.2 to 4.2, which are below the fair median ranking.

Ecuador and Sierra Leone have the lowest survey rating with a 2.2 CPI level, making them the most corrupt among the Fellows' countries this year.

The USA - the Fellows' host - garnered a CPI of 7.5, making it as one of the 20 least corrupt countries in the world.

With 180 countries participating in this year's survey, the top 10 countries perceived as least corrupt are:

1. New Zealand (9.4)
2. Denmark (9.3)
3. Singapore (9.2), Sweden (9.2)
5. Switzerland (9.0)
6. Finland (8.9), Netherlands (8.9)
8. Australia (8.7), Canada (8.7), Iceland (8.7)

On the other hand, the top 10 countries perceived as most corrupt are:

1. Somalia (1.1)
2. Afghanistan (1.3)
3. Myanmar (1.4)
4. Sudan (1.5), Iraq (1.5)
5. Chad (1.6)
6. Uzbekistan (1.7)
7. Turkmenistan (1.8), Iran (1.8), Haiti (1.8)

Somalia came out as the most corrupt country in the world for this year, with a score of 1.1 and rank of 180th. Not surprisingly, New Zealand came out as the least corrupt country this year with a score of 9.4 at the 1st rank.

Progression, deterioration

A closer look at the Fellows' countries' performance in the CPI using a 5-year comparative interval growth rates show some interesting patterns.

Four Fellows' countries are consistently deteriorating since 2000: Israel, Ecuador, Sierra Leone and Tunisia.

Israel, Ecuador and Sierra Leone have been deteriorating by 2-3 points in the years preceding 2009. Interestingly, Tunisia is showing sharp deterioration over the years beginning 2000. From a CPI score of 5.2 in 2000, it declined into 4.9 in 2005 and further dropped to 4.2 in 2009.

On the other hand, four other Fellows' countries are showing consistent improvements: India, Moldova, South Korea and Liberia.

Both India and Moldova scaled up by 4-5 points from 2008 to 2009. Liberia showed upward leap by almost 10 points, when its CPI of 2.2 in 2005 jumped to 3.1 in 2009. South Korea also exhibited sharp improvements for the past decade, with CPI progression of 4.0, 5.0 and 5.5 in 2000, 2005 and 2009 respectively.

The Philippines, like USA, displayed a holding-on pattern for the past five years with 1-2 points of variances thereby maintaining its momentum since 1995. The Dominican Republic just participated this year in the annual corruption survey, starting with a 3.0 CPI score.

For more analysis on Philippine and ASEAN corruption levels,
please click on these links:
http://cyberron.blogspot.com/2009/11/holding-on.html and


Poll closed

The Philippines ranked as one of the 12th most corrupt countries in the world in 2008. Do you think the country will improve its standing for 2009?

35 votes (37%) - Yes, it will improve
40 votes (43%) - No, it will worsen
19 votes (20%) - Not Sure
94 votes (100%) - FINAL RESULT


GMA can still be a great president!

Some local officials and Congressmen are moving for a formal resolution to call on Pres. GMA to run again for public office, this time as Pampanga Representative. She will most probably win, considering the incumbency machinery of a sitting president (and she will most probably become the Speaker of the House, given all her resources).

As a citizen of this country, I beg to register my opposition to this move.

I wish to offer the President this simple formula of Ogunlela Olu: SELFLESSNESS = GREATNESS!

It will be the ultimate act of greatness if President GMA will not succumb to the temptations and pressures to run again for public post!

I am sharing again my unsolicited analysis and propositions for Pres. GMA. These were culled out from what I wrote in my earlier blog at this link.

GMA can still be a great President

I would like to strike a middle ground. We can spark an explosion of collective purification that should be led by no less than President Arroyo and all her Cabinet members.

This can be achieved by heeding the simple formula of Ogunlela Olu: selflessness = greatness!

For President GMA, the purification process should begin with undertaking the following concrete steps of selflessness, which I believe would really leave a significant mark towards her greatness:

1. Finish your term and swear by your ancestors not to run again for the next election, in whatever form and mode. Speak in categorical and sincere terms that you will step down peacefully and honorably in 2010; no teasing, no ambiguities, no obscurities! If you are sincere and categorical, all your people, especially in Congress, will heed your wish!

2. Ensure that there will be no cheating in the 2010 elections. Please do not allow another Hello Garci and another 12-0! They really divided the country; they really caused miscalculated damage to your administration.

3. Convene a governance transition team now, which will plot a proper and orderly system of turn-over to the next elected president. No political talk, just be professional. Be transparent in your modest gains and be candid of what you have not achieved. The next president should be able to address this lacuna.

4. Make Constitutional change a priority for the next administration, and you can explore the process for including the election of the members for a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) during the 2010 elections. Constitutional Assembly (ConAss) is really not popular, since
Congress does not enjoy popular people's trust. Surveys speak!

5. Take more proactive measures to solve at least the major corruption issues that scandalized your administration. You can use all the powers of the presidency to solve at least the NBN-ZTE broadband overpricing and bribery scam as well as the fertilizer fund scam. I believe you have all the powers to help solve these scams because the parties involved are your own officials. And they take cues from you!

6. Stop all political appointments. The 2009 Philippine Human Development Report revealed that you have already exceeded the allowable presidential appointments for Cabinet USec and ASec positions (and many of them are not even qualified). If you decide to take back their appointments, you win the votes of meritocracy!

7. Make radical reforms on two other very important issues in the country: (a) flooding and climate change and (b) the Mindanao peace talk.

We Filipinos have a soft heart for conciliation and healing. As you endeavor to end your term properly and to leave a significant mark to be great, you can reach out to your ardent critics and detractors -- even those who hurt you -- and make good peace and reconcile. This is the greatest mark of humility!

These are my unsolicited propositions for the President, which I believe will regain or win greatness for the incumbent leadership. We have 7 months before the next elections.

Madam President, you have 7 crucial months to make history for the Filipino people and be great as well!