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Political and Social Foundations for Review: Anti-corruption Strategies for the Philippines

April 19, 2011, 2:32 p.m.


Political and Social Foundations for Reform: Anti-Corruption Strategies for the Philippines by Michael Johnston looks at the role corruption plays in the Philippines and recommends both short-term and long-term solutions to mitigate the problem.  He states that there is a need for “deep democratization” to take place and for trust to be built between the population and political leaders.

Corruption in the Philippines diverts, delays, and distorts economic development, undermines the quality and credibility of democracy, and reduces the quality of life. That is so not just because of its extent but also because it comes in particularly disruptive and intractable forms. Philippine corruption is an example of the Oligarch-and-Clan syndrome—one found in countries offering significant and expanding political and economic opportunities in a setting of very weak institutions, but a pattern shaped by historical, cultural, and geographical influences specific to the country. Oligarch-and-Clan corruption is particularly disruptive, in development terms. Because of institutional weaknesses and the power of corrupt oligarchs and their followings, it often faces ineffective opposition. More than other syndromes it is closely linked to violence, and sharply limits the state’s ability to perform such basic functions as revenue collection, maintenance of institutional foundations for the economy, law enforcement, conflict resolution, and dealing with security threats.

In this paper I propose a series of anti-corruption steps intended to build such support on the basis of demonstrated success and improvements to citizens’ quality of life. The proposed changes would replicate, over time, the deep democratization that historically helped check serious corruption in a variety of other nations. Several proposals are for the short term, and are aimed both at (re)launching reform and at earning public credibility. Longer-term measures are noted as well, and can build upon early actions and credibility. Some proposals can be acted upon by executive order and administrative implementation; others would require legislation or even constitutional changes.

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