Is The Philippine Judicial System Effective in Fighting Corruption?

This research study, entitled “Is the Philippine Judicial System Effective in Fighting Corruption?” was prepared by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) in partnership with Transparency International (TI)-Philippines.

In early November 2006, Transparency International (TI), in its 2006 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), rated the Philippines as among 163 countries whose ranking fell to 121 from 117 in 2005. TI also ranked the Philippines as the third most corrupt country in the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) region next to Myanmar and Indonesia.

Earlier in 2004, TI’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) named the judiciary as among the top institutions where the incidence of corruption is very high in the Philippines. Likewise, topping the GCB with the judiciary was law enforcement, another pillar of the criminal justice system.

These studies by TI about the incidence of corruption in the Philippines have been disputed by the government of President Gloria M. Arroyo, particularly its anti-corruption consultant and the Ombudsman both of whom called the findings of TI in its GCB - as well as of the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, Ltd. (PERC) - as mere perceptions. Their reactions suggested that government was doing all it can to address the endemic problem, and that corruption had been minimized and, hence, should not be projected internationally as a hopeless case.

Assistant Ombudsman Cyril Ramos also dismissed perceptions that the country’s judicial institutions are toothless in the crusade against corruption for failing to convict powers-that-be or, in his own words, the “big fish”. On the contrary, he said, several municipal and city mayors have been convicted for graft and related offenses by the Sandiganbayan.

CenPEG and TI thus planned this study in order to evaluate the validity of these claims to the effect that government institutions including the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan, as well as other agencies have been playing their part in the prompt and fair investigation and judicial disposition of complaints regarding graft and corruption and related cases. The study focuses particularly on the performance of the Ombudsman, as a pillar of the judicial system, and the Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court, from 2001 to May 2006, or during the present term of Mrs. Arroyo.

The study also covers the performance of the media in publicizing reports about graft and corruption in order to gauge the industry’s adversarial role vis-à-vis government especially in checking its excesses and abuses. Another important pillar of the judicial system, the citizens movement or grassroots organizations, is included in the study because of their equally crucial role in the fight against corruption during the period.

For copy and further information, please contact Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), 3F CSWCD Bldg., University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, 1105 Philippines. Telefax: +632-9299526

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