Press Release
November 27, 2014


Famously known for busting graft and corruption, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago hit the culture of corruption in Philippine politics during her speech at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) Thursday.

"With so many pending cases for plunder and corruption against high-profile political leaders, common sense dictates that as scholars, we need to examine the culture of corruption: its sources, its mind-sets, and whether the candidates we vote for might present a profile of corruption as a work in progress," Santiago said.

The Philippines has the highest number of anti-corruption measures in Asia. Yet according to the 2013 Corruption Perception Index, the Philippines ranked 94th out of 177 countries. Santiago said "corruption limits the ability of public officials to improve the economy with the use of foreign aid."

She cited four sources of corruption: vicarious learning, principle of desensitization, rationalization, and learned helplessness.

Santiago also criticized the government's implementation of anti-corruption laws. According to her, local and national public officials engage in corruption because the anti-corruption laws are not always implemented and those who are guilty can get away with it.

Amidst the 2016 elections, Santiago urged students and young people to examine the personalities of potential candidates for public office who show signs of a corrupt official.

Santiago noted that in the Philippines, the most notorious act of plunder is the abuse of the pork barrel system.

"Corruption in our country is not necessarily associated with the conscious intent to be unethical or immoral. Rather, corruption is schematic, because it has become a routine practice in the conduct of daily business. This is why it is of the utmost importance to choose the best possible president and other national officials in the 2016 elections," Santiago said.

She said it is crucial to be informed of the presidential candidates' academic and professional excellence, and national and international achievements to gauge the character of the next president. For Santiago, the next president should have the political will to institute anti-corruption measures such as providing more protection for whistleblowers, granting more transparency and access to information, reducing the involvement of politicians in appointment systems, and raising the wages of those in government, among others.

Santiago also encouraged the students to help fight the culture of corruption by highlighting role models who fight against corruption, helping to educate voters on the candidates' character, and advocating reform in our systems and structures through social media.

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