'Culture change needed to fight corruption'

Posted at 01/14/14 9:17 PM

Prof. Barry Rider. Photo by Fidea Encarnacion

MANILA – Fighting corruption in the Philippines will need more than just prevention and enforcement of laws but a culture change as well, a British lecturer said in a forum Tuesday.

Professor Barry Rider from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom presented his paper “Current Issues in the War against Corruption” during the 3rd Ombudsman Integrity Lecture: Current Issues in the War against Corruption at the Asian Development Bank Auditorium in ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City Tuesday.

In his lecture, Rider pointed out the importance of prevention and enforcement in trying to find a solution to the problem of corruption.

“You have a tremendous number of laws relating to corruption,” he said, adding that there are also "soft laws" that cover money laundering and corruption.

He said that one big root of corruption depends on the economy and culture of the country.

“We have to be realistic. We have to look and see what is relevant in the society we are dealing with.”

Rider said transparency and disclosure is important in solving the problem but it must come hand-in-hand with how effective it can be in informing those concerned.

This primary mechanism can only be viable if it can be interpreted by institutions and the media to citizens in a more understandable way.

On the other hand, the problem of compliance in terms of transparency can be traced to the lack of expertise of who can attest if compliance is being monitored properly.

"The more we actually attack that problem, the better. That is, of course, vital where you have organized crimes work, because the money is the lifeblood of criminal enterprises."

Rider noted the ineffectiveness of traditional witness protection programs, saying that it could pose a danger to those who are supposedly willing to be up on witness stands for crimes against corruption.


He said that another critical area is whistleblowing, which is often seen as an effective way of telling off corrupt officials.

Fr. Albert Alejo, lead convenor of Ehem Aha Movement, agreed with Rider’s proposition that corruption can be solved culturally. He said the fight against corruption should start in the family and in schools.

“If we can have programs like these…then every family can be communal and collective whistleblowers,” Alejo said.

Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo focused on the roots of corruption stemming from the judiciary and government bodies. He said the biggest victims of corruption in these sectors are the poorest of the poor.

He proposed projects that can better monitor offices, and that the Office of the Ombudsman should recruit more investigators.

“New recruits shouldn't be mixed with corrupt investigators,” he added.

Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio La Vina, the final speaker from the panel of reactors, said social innovation and social leadership play key roles for change to take place. Photo by Fidea Encarnacion

Also present in the event was Presidential Commission on Good Government Commissioner Ma. Ngina Teresa Chan-Gonzaga, who facilitated the open forum, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who awarded tokens to the guest speakers.