Get Involved: A Call for Individual Action to Counter Corruption

Article | 29 July 2015

The Philippines has become a leader in recent years in the fight against corruption. Influential Filipino economist and media personality, Professor Solita “Winnie” Collas-Monsod, shared some insights into how the country has done it.

During a speech at ADB headquarters in Manila – which was part of ADB’s “iAct to fight corruption!” internal anticorruption outreach campaign – Mrs. Monsod discussed the progress of the Philippines in fighting corruption. She also called for more individual action to stamp out this social ill.

Mrs. Monsod noted that the ranking of the Philippines on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Transparency International has improved in recent years. It has moved from 36th place in the list of countries perceived as most corrupt to 85th out of 174 countries.

"That's progress!" she said.

The Philippines has faced a series of high-profile corruption scandals in recent years but Mrs. Monsod noted that the current presidential administration has brought more corruption charges against senior public officials than its predecessors.

Mrs. Monsod noted that the Philippines has strong anti-corruption laws in place and active non-government organizations that help keep officials honest. She also disputed the assertion that corruption in the Philippines is endemic and linked to the Filipino culture.

“We are not a damaged culture,” she said. “We have no innate character flaws. We are actually a rational people who have taken to corruption because it pays. We just have to make sure that it does not pay in the Philippines.”

Mrs. Monsod called for individual action to address corruption. She said people should try to understand the reasons for corruption and its effects on society, and then educate others.

“Talk to the people in your immediate family and convince them this is the way to go,” she said. “Talk to your maids and drivers.”

Getting involved and informing others about the deep costs of corruption is a personal responsibility, she said.

“We have to bring down the costs of corruption to the level of Juan dela Cruz,” she said, using a term that means the common Filipino. ”Who can show that to him? Not somebody from up there, but somebody that’s close to his level. That means you and I.”

Mrs. Monsod noted that the Internet and social media has produced an increased number of corruption allegations. She further urged the public to not only get involved online, but to also join nongovernment organizations that work for transparency and accountability in government.

“You don’t realize how important it is that you are able to call out social ills through direct participation,” she said.

In closing, ADB’s Office of Anticorruption and Integrity Head Clare Wee affirmed Monsod’s call for individual action.

“The responsibility for fighting corruption doesn’t lie outside of ADB’s walls,” she said, addressing ADB employees. “It lies with each and every one of us.”