Wake Up, Philippines!


Posted in DPWH, Editorial, Graft and Corruption by Erineus on March 20, 2009

Updated March 20, 2009 12:00 AM

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The rating of the Department of Public Works and Highways as the most corrupt government agency in a recent survey was not surprising. Every survey on corruption shows the DPWH in competition with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs for the top slot.

What was new, and disheartening, in Pulse Asia’s February 2009 Nationwide Survey on Corruption was that among the respondents who said they had personally experienced corruption, a high 81 percent opted to keep silent about it. Pulse Asia said keeping silent could be “the most reasonable action to take in light of the experiences of whistle-blowers in publicized cases” such as Rodolfo Lozada Jr.

Lozada and his family are still living on the kindness of nuns and priests of De la Salle University. He faces charges in connection with his former government job. The charges were filed only after he defied the administration and told the Senate what he knew about the national broadband network deal between China’s ZTE Corp. and the Department of Transportation and Communications. He is out of a job, while most of those implicated in that deal have kept theirs or have been promoted, including those he said were involved in the effort to keep him silent.

Other whistle-blowers have suffered worse fates. And after suffering those fates, the worst part is that nothing happens to the corruption cases that they have denounced. After the ZTE deal was scrapped, the administration has tried to wish away the corruption controversy and revive the broadband deal in a new version. Amid bribery allegations, Benjamin Abalos was forced to quit as chairman of the Commission on Elections, a few months short of the end of his fixed term, but he now seems to be enjoying his retirement.

With recent developments, you can’t blame Filipinos who think that blowing the whistle on corruption is an exercise in futility. Who is rewarded in this country, and who are the losers? In the next survey, the number of Filipinos who decide to keep silent in the face of controversy will likely be higher.


A matter of view?

THE World Bank (WB) is a specialized agency of the UN system, established in 1944. It encompasses two development institutions and three affiliates focused on worldwide poverty reduction.

Helping poor nations

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is WB’s main component that provides loans and technical assistance for projects in developing – poor – member countries, like RP, and encourages co-financing for projects from other countries or a syndication of dozens of giant commercial banks in the US and Europe.

Huge loans

Most big infrastructures in RP are funded with loans by the billions of pesos from IBRD, that in turn urges big commercial banks in Europe by the dozens to invest here.

One bridge or highway project here costing R500M needs a long-term loan of .52 million. The World Bank will then encourage other giant banks in Switzerland, Paris, London, Berlin, New York, etc. to share in meeting the loan and its terms.

One or two banks may not loan more than R500M to RP.


Disclosures of IBRD that some Filipino contractors and politicians connive or help each other to “corner” contracts via acts amounting to fraud, conflict of interest, influence peddling and other fraudulent means serve as notice/revelation to the lending banks.

The above places RP on the banks’ blacklist of nations notoriously engaged in making net loans result in inferior bridge or road called by honest builders as “matapang sa buhangin.” The same notice or knowledge is not forgotten for years by nations that apply their IBRD loans with unassailable honesty.

Just an image

This was probably the start of RP’s unkind image of having corrupt high officials, national and local, and of wasting loans from IBRD and other sources encouraged by the World Bank Group.

Our high officials and politicians were “splendidly quick” in denying allegations of contract “rigging, fixing and spinning yarns or wizardry.” They – officials and contractors – angrily disputed the lending bank’s official list of shadowy contractors and questioned results of a long investigation by independent experts.


The bank officials did not answer the rage/anger of blacklisted contractors and their protectors. Neither did it refer to blacklisted contractors considered by DPWH officials/engineers as truly friendly and kind and thoughtful and honest – of all things – all the time.

Unkind words

And all 91.8M of us don’t know what epithets and unkind words are being thrown by lending banks in our way for years.

Let’s not forget that a syndication of banks is like a club and can influence other banks in Europe and in the US not to give RP loans of any kind in years.

But let’s not be too harsh on DoJ investigators and the NBI if they call World Bank investigations without basis or based on unreliable evidence like the findings favorable to dirty little crooks selling drugs.

Lacks ‘audacity’

The two agencies combined, including other good agencies, cannot summon Obama’s audacity to take a closer look at disbursements called pork or view a few bottles of liquid fertilizer (replaced by deepwell water) but commanded a price amounting to 1000 percent (or 10 times) of the normal price tag.

Lender’s view

DoJ and NBI conclusions with respect to PDEA’s arrests of drug traders they considered innocent are now under review by a commission headed by a retired and distinguished Supreme Court justice. (Comments are welcome at roming@pefianco.com)

Author: Atty. Romeo V. Pefianco