Albay Rep. Joey Salceda slammed the recent Forbes article claiming that the Philippines is becoming a “more corrupt” state under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a statement, Salceda said the Jan. 24 article has used the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that rates countries on the basis of “perceived levels” of corruption, which he described as a “highly subjective and simplistic measure” that does not fully take into account the situation on the ground.
“The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on scores given by ‘experts,’ making it exactly what it claims to be — just an index of “perception,” which does not take into account the sense of the Filipino people, who are, after all, the only people to whom the President is accountable. Foreign elite perception is hardly a credible measure of domestic institutions,” Salceda said.
Salceda noted that the CPI does not measure improvements in private sector corruption, which the President has “very aggressively combatted”.
“The single ever tax settlement in the country’s history, the PHP30 billion haul from the Mighty Corporation tax fraud case, happened under President Duterte’s robust leadership. Onerous deals between government and private entities are now being exposed and renegotiated, to promote the public interest,” he said.
“All of this even as doing honest business has become easier, with the Philippines jumping to 95th place from 124th in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, an index with broader and more nuanced set of sources,” he added.
Apart from improving the ease of doing business, Salceda said the current administration has either reorganized or abolished corruption-riddled agencies like the National Food Authority (NFA), the Road Board; and has set up an Anti-Red Tape Authority curb illicit deals in government offices and improve transactions.
“The President’s actions are not what the article describes as mere “rhetoric.” Aggressive executive action has resulted in real and unprecedented increases in government revenue from previously untouchable tax evaders,” he said.
“Public welfare, the greatest good for the greatest number, is now also the guiding principle in extending privileges granted by the state,” he added.
The “most misguided conclusion” in the article, according to Salceda, is when it claimed that the Duterte government is making the country more corrupt and less democratic, thus keeping its people poor.
“The article blatantly disregards one of the most significant achievements of the President: leading an all-of-government campaign against poverty, which has since gone down to 16.6 percent in 2018 from 23.3 percent in 2015, before the President took office,” he said.
The article claims that “Still, the old villains — corruption and political oppression — remain intact, preventing the country from developing modern infrastructure, attracting foreign capital, lowering unemployment, sustain economic growth, and escape poverty.”
Salceda refuted the claim, saying that Duterte has led the “most ambitious” socioeconomic agenda in Philippine history and has delivered some of the “greatest socioeconomic achievements” of the country.
According to the economist-lawmaker, these include universal health care, universal access to tertiary education, the largest public investment in Philippine infrastructure ever, lowest unemployment rate since 2005, among the highest foreign direct investment to gross domestic product ratios in Philippine history, and sustained economic growth.
“The article, in other words, appears to have been written by just another foreigner with very little real understanding of the Philippine situation, not to mention any significant grasp of even the most basic facts about the country,” he said.
“Let us be clear: The Philippines has not yet reached its growth potential. There is real poverty and real unemployment to be addressed. But these are problems the President inherited, and for many Filipinos, this is the first time that they are witnessing a government with the political will to meaningfully address these problems,” he added.
Salceda said the article portrays the country as an oppressed nation with an ineffective and possibly corrupt leader “when the same leader is enjoying record high popularity from the only people whose opinions of his government matter to him — the Filipino people.”
The article published by American business magazine Forbes is titled “Duterte Is Turning Philippines Into A More Corrupt And Less Democratic State”. (PNA)