House Deputy Speaker and CIBAC Partylist Rep. Bro. Eddie Villanueva on Thursday, Jan. 27 called on the country’s voters to elect as president the candidate who will certify urgent the passage in Congress of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Villanueva made the suggestion as he expressed serious concern over the decline in the country’s score in the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that was released recently.
Philippines ranked 117th among the 180 countries graded.
“A key indicator of the country’s needed President is he/she will make disclosure, transparency and accountability as defining and non-compromising policies of his/her administration,” Villanueva stated.
“This will be revealed if the candidate will certify as urgent the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill which will radically disclose all government documents and transactions to the public thus enhance public accountability and deter corrupt undertakings that are disadvantageous to the people,” he argued.
A total 20 FOI bills are currently awaiting deliberation before the House Committee on Public Information chaired by Cagayan Rep. Joseph Lara.
Many of the legislative proposals were filed as soon as the 18th Congress opened in 2019. One of them was authored by Villanueva.
In the Senate, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. chairs the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media that is sitting on seven FOI proposals.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, Bro. Eddie's son, authored one of the Senate proposals.
“The country’s drop in score in the 2021 CPI is an indisputable proof of two things: that even a cruel COVID-19 pandemic does not diminish the greed and callousness in the hearts of corrupt officials and that all rhetoric of the government in curbing corruption is a failure – corruption is still pervasive and worsening,” said Villanueva.
He explained that with a score of 33 in a scale where 100 means a country is perceived clean while 0 is seen as highly corrupt, Philippines ranked 117th out of 180 countries included in the 2021 CPI conducted by international watchdog Transparency International. This standing is a point lower and two notches drop than year 2020’s score and ranking - which is 34 and 115th, respectively.
The Philippines’s score for the 2021 CPI is below the average score of Asia-Pacific countries, which is 45. In addition, such country’s score is the lowest since 2012.
According to Villanueva the CPI is considered as the international barometer of corruption across countries as it is the most prominent and widely-used scoring metric to measure how corrupt a country’s public sector is, based on experts and business people.
According to estimate by the Office of the Ombudsman, around P700 billion of the national government’s budget is annually lost to corruption.