Still holding on!

                              (click image to enlarge)

The results of the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) survey done by the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) recently came out. The CPI is the only annual survey that sorts out country corruption levels on a global scale. A CPI score near 10 is categorized as least corrupt, and a score near 1 is more corrupt.

For 2010, the Philippines scored 2.4 and ranked 134th out of 178 countries included in this year's survey.

With this score and rank, the Philippines is part of the 12 most corrupt countries in the world, together with Azerbajian, Bangladesh, Honduras, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

In 2009, the Philippines scored the same CPI (2.4) but ranked 139th out of 180 countries, thereby making it as one of the 13th most corrupt countries in the world.

The country is showing some resilience as it has been holding on since 2008 (see Hold on, Philippines).

Somalia is still at the bottom rung scoring 1.1 in CPI, making it the most corrupt in the world for this year. Interestingly, Somalia held on to this post with the same score in 2009 also.

The top post (least corrupt countries) is shared by Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore with all 9.3 in CPI for this year. Last year, Denmark singly topped the rank with a 9.4 CPI.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines got worse. With its CPI score and rank, the country holds the position of the 3rd most corrupt in Southeast Asia, next only to Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. In previous years, the Philippines is better off but has been overtaken by Indonesia, Vietnam and Timor-Leste for this year. Both the Philippines and Timor-Leste are the only predominantly Catholic countries in Southeast Asia.

1. Singapore (9.3)
2. Hong Kong (8.4)
3. Taiwan (5.8)
4. Brunei (5.5)
5. Malaysia (4.4)
6. Thailand (3.5)
7. Indonesia (2.8)
8. Vietnam (2.7)
9. Timor-Leste (2.5)
10. Philippines (2.4)
11. Cambodia (2.1) and Laos (2.1)
12. Myanmar (1.4)
Globally, the Philippines is resiliently holding on (sans the Southeast Asia caveat) for the past 8 years. It has maintained a steady pattern of 2.4-2.6 CPI range from 2002 up to 2010. In 2005-2007, the country showed a steady course for a 3-year CPI of 2.5.

Despite all the unresolved national scandals, the steady pattern is a relieving sigh, although we hardly recovered from the drastic fall of 1999-2002. Our highest CPI is 3.6 (1999), sharply fell to 2.8 (2000), slightly rose to 2.9 (2001) and fell again to 2.6 (2002). During this period, the country was still reeling from the consequences of the Erap Impeachment and the precursor of widespread irregularities in the Estrada Administration.

With the renewed hope and more collective action to resolve current scandals and combat corruption under the Aquino Administration, let us all hold on and hope that our steady pattern in CPI will leap us back to the level of 1999 (3.6).

We have six years!


Oath of Plataea

The rise to the presidency of Benigno Aquino III excites some uncertain future for the country. For the many who are suspicious of him, the future is a bit blight. For the majority who trust him, the future is a hopeful one. It is now up to President Aquino to steer the country's future to the right path, as his Inauguration Address underscored. It is up to him to drive this country out of the mess, as brought about by the past administration.

No matter where the country is going, it always starts from where it is. While the present greatly shapes the future, it is a lot constrained by the past. Moving on means resolving - and not forgetting - past actions, especially past wrongdoings.

The country is like a turtle. Those who want reform are like the turtle's head wanting to forge ahead, but is however strained and held back by its heavy shell of many unresolved scandals.

As President Aquino always reiterated - "there can be no reconciliation without justice... Sa paglimot ng pagkakasala, sinisigurado mong mauulit muli ang mga pagkakasalang ito!"

And he is correct in this exhortation. How can the country move on and face the future if it has unresolved past? The present juncture is a make or break for the country.

We should never forget. NBN-ZTE Broadband Scandal. Fertilizer Fund Scam. Euro Generals. Hello Garci. Lamppost Overpricing. 12-0 Scandal. Maguindanao Massacre. Jose Pidal Account. Cash Gift Scandal. Midnight Deals. Midnight Appointees. Even the Manila Hostage Taking is a consequence of unresolved past. These are some, and many more to come. This is the reason why we should never forget the past, for us to learn our painful lessons. The past should remind us, and hurt us, to move us!

In the Ancient Greek City of Plataea, when the Plataeans fought with the Athenians to win the battle against the invading Persians in 479 BC, they decided to preserve the ruins of the war, subscribing to an oath not to rebuild the sanctuaries destroyed by the invaders. The ruins would remind them of their struggles and pains as a people. The ruins allowed them to remember and learn of their past. The ruins strengthened the Plataeans as they shaped their strong future.

This became part of the Oath of Plataea - remembering the painful past for the future to learn.

Reconciliation without resolution, forgiveness without fairness, judgment without sense of justice are sure formula for committing the same past mistakes.

We need the Oath of Plataea in the Philippines!