The Transparent Accountable Governance project is an attempt to summarize how, why and to what degree corruption exists in Philippine society.
This integrated approach relies on public opinion survey research, investigative reports, case studies, and briefings to engage the public in a discussion on corruption. The work has now extended to promoting good governance in selected cities and municipalities of Mindanao through capacity-building efforts.
TAG takes a pro-active role in encouraging public debate on the issue of corruption and on ways to counter it. The TAG website also presents the initiatives of both government and the private-sector in addressing corruption.
Corrupt and collusive practices are deeply embedded in the Philippines’ traditional personalistic system of governance. Influenced by extensive patronage networks, the bureaucracy feeds on cumbersome and opaque procedures that allow for too much discretion. A sophisticated culture of corruption provides disincentives for non-corrupt behavior, where individuals or companies that speak out against corrupt behavior fear negative treatment from government agencies. The institutional mechanisms for monitoring and reducing corruption are weak.
Although a hot topic of public debate, corruption in the Philippines is not well understood. It tends to be treated in a personalized, political manner, rather than as a systemic problem. The public at large expresses dismay at the problem, especially due to its perceived negative impact on economic development. But constituencies for reform are not well organized nor is there consensus on priorities to be addressed.
A new generation of sophisticated empirical research has begun to quantify the costs of corruption on domestic economies. Corruption has been shown to discourage both domestic and foreign investment and reduce economic growth. It also distorts allocative choices, allowing fiscal resources to be directed to inefficient sectors or unworthy enterprises.
While working with government directly on reform policies is important, there is growing recognition that greater pressure from civil society must be brought to bear in order to ensure political commitment to reform. The private sector is a critical part of this equation to strengthen and integrate counter-corruption strategies.
The TAG Project has continued to document perspectives among various sectors of the business community and general public concerning corruption as it relates to doing business in the Philippines; identify and analyze key areas of corruption to quantify their economic costs; and focus business and public attention on how particular areas of corruption affect the conduct of business and economic growth in the Philippines.
Our goal is to build consensus on a concrete agenda for counter-corruption reform.
Tag.org.ph is supported by The Asia Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development under the terms of Award No. 492-G-00-98-00020-00.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Asia Foundation or the U.S. Agency for International Development.