20% is common bribe take in RP

The 2006 Business Survey on Corruption by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) shows that the size of the bribery component to the contract was “commonly at 15 percent to 20 percent”.

According to managers surveyed by SWS, “bribery is commonly at 15 percent to 20 percent in public sector contracts and 10 percent in private sector contracts”.

The results were presented by SWS Chief, Mahar Mangahas from Manila to audiences in Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro via video conferencing on Thursday.

“Public sector contracts usually allow 15 to 20 percent for bribes,” a separate press statement released by the SWS said.

The trend, however, was not uniform across the key cities in the country. The bribe size was down in Cebu (15 percent in 2004 to 10 percent last year); up in Cagayan de Oro City-Iligan City (12 percent in 2005 to 20 percent this year);  uniform in Davao City and the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas (Calaba) area (15 percent annually since 2004); and fluctuated in the National Capital Region (20 percent in 2000, 15 percent in 2001, 20 percent in 2003, 17 percent in 2004, 15 percent in 2005, 20 percent in 2006)

In the private sector, contracts “usually allow 10 percent median for bribes” as shown in the results in the NCR, which was surveyed since 2000; in Cebu and Davao, both surveyed beginning 2004, and in both the Calaba and Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Industrial corridor, surveyed only beginning 2005.

According to some managers that SWS surveyed, they said that “most or almost all companies in my line of business give bribes to win public sector contracts.” But SWS noted that bribing to win private contacts was “much less common and down in all areas except Calaba.”

Also, fewer enterprises bribed local government units in getting permits or licenses last year.  About 40 percent of managers in the NCR, with the highest number of respondents among the areas, said they were asked for bribe. For paying income taxes, the number of enterprises that bribed dropped in the NCR and Cagayan de Oro-Iligan areas and rose in Calaba, Cebu and Davao.

Combatting corruption though, appears to be a herculean effort, if to be gauged in the effort are the managers, who are in the frontline of doing business with government. The survey said two out of three respondents would not report bribery because "nothing will be done.” One out of three said they did not know where to report. Only a few managers in all areas have reported bribery to authorities. One out of seven managers reported the bribe in Cagayan de Oro-Iligan area.

The survey found that two of three business managers said they still witnessed widespread corruption in government. A total of 469 out of 700 enterprise managers in five growth areas in the Philippines, gave this indication in the survey. About 67 percent of managers in the NCR, 72 percent in Cavite-Laguna-Batangas, 63 percent in Metro Cebu, 71 percent in Metro Davao, and 61 percent in Cagayan de Oro-Iligan areas said they witnessed "a lot" of corruption in the public sector.

Many managers also appear to have lost hope in the sincerity of government to combat corruption. About 72 percent of the managers said  “all government agencies are corrupt” and only two percent said "no government agency is corrupt.”

The survey also shows that most managers believe that media coverage of corruption is  accurate.

About 84 percent of the respondents in Calaba strongly disagreed they need to corrupt so their business could prosper. The same is true with majority of managers in Cagayan de Oro-Iligan (65 percent) Davao (60 percent), Cebu (56 percent), and NCR (55 percent).

Only 23 percent in Cebu agreed they need to corrupt to prosper in business; 18 percent in NCR; 16 percent in Davao; and 12 percent in Cagayan de Oro-Iligan. No one from Calaba agreed with the statement.        

Most managers said their company would make more profits if corruption were reduced to the level of Singapore.

Majority of the managers were "probably willing" to help government protect whistleblowers. One out of five said he or she was willing to provide a job in his or her own enterprise for a whistleblower.

SWS reported honest business practices like paying taxes honestly, keeping only one set of books, and always issuing and demanding receipts are being used by more enterprises now.

But Romeo Serra, chair of the Mindanao Business Council warned that a survey “would not provide solutions but indicate real problems, and what systematic innovations could be taken”.

“The project is a useful tool, it should go down to better services,” Ruben Vegafria, president of the Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in his opening statement

Roberto Teo, Davao City's Investment and Promotions Office chief, said the survey would guide government in fighting corruption, but stressed “the need to study the results well so they could use it”.

Antonio Pineda, president of the Cebu Business Club said the survey showed prevention is better than cure. "That advocating good governance is better than the hassle of prosecuting corrupt officials," he said.

SWS has been surveying Filipino managers yearly since 2000 in the National Capital Region, 2004 in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, and 2005 in CALABA and Cagayan de Oro-Iligan areas.  

For the 2006 survey, SWS asked a total of 700 respondents  from NCR (351), CALABA (75), Metro Cebu (100), Metro Davao (100), and Cagayan de Oro-Iligan (74) regarding the scale of corruption, bribery, sincerity in fighting corruption, use of honest business practices and willingness to help fight corruption.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)