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The Problem Of Corruption In The Philippine Government

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Corruption is defined as an illegal transaction where public officials and private actors exchange goods for improvement of their own at the expense of society in general (Manzetti & Wilson, 2007). It focuses attention primarily on the public sector predominantly on the distinction between official and private activity of people in a position of official authority wherein recognition of the difference between public role and private interest is required. Whereas, according to the UNDP as cited by Quah (2003), corruption is defined as the reference to “the misuse of public power, office or authority for private benefit — through bribery, extortion, influence peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money or embezzlement.” Corruption is a general term encompassing the misuse of authority that violates an official’s authority as a result of consideration of personal gain and special interest which need not be monetary. As mentioned by Caiden (2007) corruption, as defined by Nye (1967), is a behavior or conduct which deviates and strays from the formal duties of a public servant because of the regards of private pecuniary or status gains or defies rules against the exercise of certain types of influence in private-regarding. Moreover, corruption may also be defined as the act wherein government official abuse and take advantage of their position and power to impose bribes on to citizens and businesses in order to receive public goods or in some instances openly use government institutions for their own enrichment in any way possible.

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In the Philippines, despite of the long tradition of democratic government and serious efforts at market-oriented economic reform, the country remains plagued by poverty, corruption, crime, insurgency (Rogers, 2004). It argues that even with efforts to eradicate corruption in the Philippine government system, it remains undeterred and continues to plague the governing body of the nation. Khan and Jomo (2000) stated that corruption is extensive throughout the structure of the Philippine government that extends from the lowest up to the highest levels. Nye (1967) argued that some say corruption is endemic or regularly found in all governments. However, Quah (2004) indicated that corruption in the Philippines was introduced by the Spanish as the “low salaries and poor working conditions of the bureaucrats and the many opportunities available for corrupt behaviour contributed to the widespread corruption in the colonial bureaucracy.” In addition, Enriga (1979) stated that in the present Philippine bureaucracy, the phenomenon of graft and corruption could be traced back to the Philippine colonial encounter particularly during the Spanish colonization period. But in spite of that, in the recent years, the Philippines shows improvement on its global ranking in the corruption index by climbing 12 notches in the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Implicit to this significant improvement is that there is hope for the country to vie for a corrupt-free government in the years to come.

Moralist-Normative Perspective

The Moralist-Normative Perspective or Moral Approach is considered as the oldest school of thoughts or way of thinking in regards to corruption. It defines corruption as innately bad, emerging from a lack of moral commitment among government officials that also focuses on destructive effects of corruption on public moral, institutional discipline and the trust given by the public to officials. According to Jiang (2017) it is necessary to have a shared understanding of the rules to maintain public order and confidence otherwise any behavior contradicting norms are seen as immoral or bad, which includes corruption. In addition, this perspective defines corruption as having serious and detrimental effects on a whole range of political and economic activities due to an immoral deviant form of behavior. As stated by Heiser (2001) the revival of the moralist approach is in conjunction with the growing belief that the ethical foundations of democracy have shown evidence of decline during the past decades.

Functionalist Theory or Functionalist Perspective

Corruption had not been always viewed as an unwanted factor in politics and administration, but rather promulgated the idea that it could help get the wheels turning and “grease” non efficient bureaucracies. According to Méon (2008) “grease the wheels” hypothesis is known as the leading argument suggesting that beneficial effects may be conferred by corruption, it was proposed by Leff (1964), Leys (1965) and Huntington (1968). It suggests the notion that corruption may be beneficial by reducing the distortions caused by ill-functioning institutions. The functionalist perspective viewed corruption as a indispensable evil to cut bureaucratic red tape, redistribute resources, and sustain socioeconomic development in countries governed by ill-functioning institutions. Corruption viewed as ‘another form of political influence,’ functionalism, condoned certain forms of corruption that were held to enhance economic development and political integration during the 1960s (Heiser, 2001).

Public Office-Legalist Perspective

The public office-legalist perspective argument puts prominent emphasis on the importance of creating legal institutions and using law to combat and counter corruption. According to Jiang (2017) the basic view of public-offices definition is that there are certain defined and explicit rules governing their behaviors of officials, a public official is otherwise corrupt unless he/she will perform his/her roles by following all rules. Whereas, others argue that a lack of legal institutions and laws concerning corruption in public office does not primarily result to corruption. On the other hand, they point out that the main problems are located in the enforcement and the implementation of the law.

Public Interest-Institutionalist Perspective

The public interest-institutionalist perspective attempts to explain how institutions shape individual officials in serving the government wherein moral issues are taken into account. In the definition provided by Jiang (2017) the standard is changed from norms to the harm to the public, from external criteria on corruption to consequences of corruption and in order to have a coherent idea of what behavior is considered as corrupt, a distinction or differentiation must be made between the public needs or interests shared by a community as a whole and private interest. And in this definition provided, public interest always precedes private interest in people’s value system. The concept of public interest, its values, perceptions, and laws differ across societies and that has implications or indicatrions in terms of what manifestations of corruption are identified across cases (Heiser, 2001).

Corruption can be viewed from numerous perspectives. The main ones are the Moralist-Normative Perspective, Functionalist Theory or Functionalist Perspective, Public Office-Legalist Perspective and thePublic Interest-Institutionalist Perspective. Corruption as a political phenomenon adds to that complexity of defining “corruption”. In the notion that different nations belong to different stages of development, originate from different civilization traditions, and adopt different political and economic systems, the norms and laws governing these nations are definitely divergent. So instead of depicting exact corrupt behavior features and giving it definition based on its characteristics, more attention is devoted to identifying the structural environments wherein corruption arises or to the dynamics of the emergence of corruption.

References

  • Caiden, G. E. (2007). Corruption and governance. Combating Corruption, Encouraging Ethics: A Practical Guide to Management Ethics, 78.
  • Enriga, J. N. (1979). Historical notes on graft and corruption in the Philippines.
  • Heiser, W. J. (2001). Corruption: political and public aspects. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2824-2830.
  • Jiang G. (2017) Corruption—Theories and Perspectives. In: Corruption Control in Post- Reform China. Springer, Singapore
  • Khan, M. H., & Jomo, K. S. (Eds.). (2000). Rents, rent-seeking and economic development: Theory and evidence in Asia. Cambridge University Press.
  • Manzetti, L., & Wilson, C. J. (2007). Why do corrupt governments maintain public support?. Comparative political studies, 40(8), 949-970.
  • Méon, P. G., & Weill, L. (2008). Is corruption an efficient grease?.
  • Nye, J. (1967). Corruption and Political Development: A Cost-Benefit Analysis. American Political Science Review, 61(2), 417-427. doi:10.2307/1953254
  • Quah J.S.T. (2003) Singapore’s Anti-Corruption Strategy: Is this Form of Governance Transferable to Other Asian Countries?. In: Kidd J.B., Richter FJ. (eds) Corruption and Governance in Asia. Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • Quah, J. S. (2004). Democratization and political corruption in the Philippines and South Korea: A comparative analysis. Crime, law and social change, 42(1), 61-81.
  • Rogers, S. (2004). Philippine Politics and the Rule of Law. Journal of Democracy 15(4), 111- 125. Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved February 10, 2019, from Project MUSE database. 
10 Jun 2021

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