MANILA, JULY 7, 2006
(STAR) By Marianne Go - The incidence of business bribery has declined compared to previous years, a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.

According to the 2006 SWS survey of enterprises on corruption, the largest drop in the proportion of managers saying that "most" or "almost all" companies in their line of business give bribes to win public sector contracts was in Cagayan de Oro-Iligan (CDO/I), with 38 percent in 2006, a drop of 27 percentage points from 65 percent in 2005.

Metro Cebu saw the next largest decline of 15 percentage points from 62 percent in 2004 to 47 percent in 2006. In Metro Manila, 46 percent of respondents agreed with this statement, a drop of 11 percentage points from 57 percent in 2003. Metro Davao saw a decline of eight percentage points from 57 percent in 2005 to 49 percent in 2006.

However, in the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas (Calaba) area, it was 47 percent, unchanged from 2005.

The SWS survey found that bribery to win private sector contracts is much less common, and declined over the past year in all the areas surveyed, save for Calaba.

The managers, when asked about percentage of an average contract which is allotted to bribes in order to win that contract — in instances when bribery does happen — said it is 15 to 20 percent in public sector contracts and 10 percent in private sector contracts.

As to solicitations for bribes on certain transactions during the past year, 33 percent of the managers said they had been asked for a bribe to get a local government permit or license, 29 percent for a national government permit or license, 29 percent regarding their income tax, 22 percent regarding importations, 18 percent concerning supplying government with goods or services, 16 percent for collecting receivables from government, and 11 percent in availing of government incentives.

Bribes for local government permits are being asked of fewer managers in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, but of more managers in the Calaba area. Bribes for national government permits are being asked of more companies in both Calaba and Metro Davao.

Bribes in connection with income taxes are being asked of fewer managers in Metro Manila, CDO/I and, to some extent, in Metro Cebu. Bribes connected to compliance with import regulations are being asked of more managers in Metro Manila.

"However, reporting of bribe-solicitation to the authorities or to anti-corruption groups is minimal, with two of every three non-reporting managers reasoning that it is futile to do so," the SWS said.

More honest businessmen

The SWS found that the use of honest business practices is far from universal, yet growing somewhat in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

Only about half of the managers said that companies in their sector always demand receipts. Thirty-seven percent said the companies always issue receipts, 25 percent said the companies keep only one set of books and a mere 20 percent said the companies always pay taxes honestly.

While managers are willing to part with about five percent of their net income to contribute to a program to cut public sector corruption in half, a majority of them are more enthusiastic about helping out government whistleblowers.

Calaba area managers said they are willing to part with 10 percent of their net income, up five percentage points from last year. Metro Cebu managers said they are willing to part with only three percent, down two percentage points from last year.

There was no change in the figures from last year for managers in Metro Manila (three percent) and Metro Davao and CDO/I (five percent each).

The median response for the five areas combined was five percent in both the 2006 and the 2005 enterprises surveys, the SWS said.

Most managers also said their company would make more profits if corruption were reduced to the level enjoyed by Singapore. These managers’ median expected increase in net income is 20 percent, according to the SWS.

The great majority of managers said they would help government whistleblowers, with 69 percent willing to give financial aid, 72 percent willing to contribute for protection, and 77 percent willing to provide a job in their own companies.

Sincerity under question

The SWS survey also found that managers believe that Roman Catholic Church leaders are more sincere in fighting corruption than government agencies.

They gave local church leaders "the highest rating for sincerity in fighting corruption," a net rating of 71 percent, which the study classified as "very good," enjoying a net rating of over 50 percent.

The SWS survey defined net sincerity as the percentage of managers calling an agency "sincere" minus the percentage of those calling the same agency "insincere."

Agencies whose net sincerity ratings are deemed "good" or within the range of 31 to 50 percent are the Supreme Court (40 percent) and the Social Security System or SSS (38 percent).

Considered "moderate" in terms of net sincerity or within the range of 11 to 30 percent are the Department of Health, the city or municipal government and the Sandiganbayan.

Agencies that earned "mediocre" net sincerity ratings — which the survey defined as within the 11 percent to -11 percent range, "indistinguishable from zero" — are the trial courts, Commission on Audit (COA), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Department of Education and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Agencies with "poor" net sincerity ratings, within the -11 percent to -30 percent range, are the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the Office of the President, the Senate, the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the House of Representatives earned "bad" net sincerity ratings, ranging from -31 percent to -50 percent.

Agencies with "very bad" net sincerity ratings of below -50 percent are the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Commission on Elections (Comelec), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The SSS, GSIS, DOTC, DA, Comelec and local church leaders were included in the sincerity ratings for the first time in the 2006 survey.

Fourteen out of 23 agencies or institutions received lower net sincerity ratings in the 2006 survey compared to last year.

The net sincerity rating of three agencies slipped from positive to negative: the DOJ went from 13 percent in 2005 to -20 percent this year, a drop of 33 points; the Office of the President, from 10 percent to -15 percent, down by 25 points; and the PCGG, from five percent to -13 percent, down by 18 points.

The DBM’s net sincerity rating dropped from 24 percent in 2005 to zero this year. That of the Ombudsman fell from 22 percent to only five percent, while that of the DILG fell from -17 percent to -32 percent.

The agencies with ratings "more favorable or else less unfavorable" than the previous year are: trial courts (from three percent to five percent), the AFP (from -38 percent to -19 percent), the PNP (from -42 percent to -36 percent), the LTO (from -45 percent to -38 percent), the DENR (from -44 percent to -39 percent), the BIR (from -59 percent to -58 percent) and the BOC (from -75 percent to -74 percent).

Those with ratings unchanged over the past year are the COA (five percent) and the DPWH (-66 percent).

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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