WB-funded road contracts & the US State Department’s charges of graft and corruption.

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For some weeks now, World Bank (WB) tells us of the corruptive practice which rigs the bidding of the foreign bank-funded road projects in the Philippines. Instead of being thankful to the international lending institution for giving important leads to curb corruption, some of our government officials have been defensive.

Without tangible effort to find out the truth, supporters of the Arroyo government thought of filing a “diplomatic protest.” As if to way lay the investigation, Sen. Santiago pompously crowed over “court evidence” and insisted on the foreign bank officials to feed the senate investigation with all the details of the allegation. WB officials in turn told our government investigators they couldn’t do the job for us. Careful not to trample on our national “pride,” they said it wasn’t the foreign bank’s duty. Yes, why then couldn’t we have our investigation without the help of an outsider like the foreign bank?

Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo, was at the center of the WB scandal. Santiago, an Arroyo ally, behaved as though it was WB’s interest over our own national interest that criminal wrong-doing be proven. The foot-dragging that followed demonstrated the lack of resolve to get into the bottom of the case. The inquiry led by Sen. Miriam D. Santiago was haphazard, diversionary and inutile.

If only to heighten our shame and incompetence, the US State Department, on a separate issue of human rights, called on our government to exert more in stopping graft and corruption. In its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2008,” released last February 25, 2009, the department disclosed corruption in government agencies and the judiciary was among the reasons why basic human rights continued to be violated in the Philippines.

‘The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,‘ the report says.”—Inquirer (02/28,/09, Dizon, N; Burgunio, TJ)

What they are saying about us is consistently embarrassing, but many of us choose to keep the usual silence. Malacanang Press secretary Cerge Remonde tries to be “smart” by dismissing the accusations as merely perceptions and therefore not rooted on reality.

“Corruption is really more…perception than reality. This perception is making us more aware and more conscious of the problem. More people become vigilant in watching graft and corruption,” Remonde told a news conference at the Palace on Friday.”—PDI, (02/27/9, Guinto, J.)

Others like Remonde in government are defensive by pointing that even USA and other countries have shares of the same problem. Apologists for the country say the Philippines isn’t the only one. They try to downplay the stark contrast in how other countries respond to stop graft and corruption.(Photo Credit: Animationcomics) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009

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