Monday, October 22, 2007

Coordination and synergy in the fight against corruption

The World Bank-Knowledge for Development Center(WB-KDC), in coordination with the Transparency and Accountability Network(TAN)and the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB)conducted the "Workshop on Procurement and Anticorruption" last 15-19 October 2007 at the Richmonde Hotel in the Ortigas Business District.

Various initiatives
Among the activities in the workshop is a sharing on the anti-corruption initiatives undertaken by participants coming from various regions of the country. Integration into the course curriculum, training sessions in partnership with the Ombudsman, data gathering on budget and expenditures, and actual prosecution of corrupt officials are some of those mentioned in the sharing. To my mind, the most important insight in the sharing is the realization that people acknowledge the prevalence of corruption and actually wanted to do something against it.

Evolving a framework for engagements
The classic discourse on the root cause of any social problem showed up again: is it the people or the social structures that foster corruption? Personally, I think any debate on this area may not be so productive. After all, both the people and the structures are part of a complex, interdependent social set up which has evolved through the years. Thus, my prescription here is always the two-pronged approach to the problem. Let us pursue structural reforms but do not forget the impact of values and orientation to the individual. The quest for social transformation must be pursued on two levels: the personal/individual and the collective/social. In this context, I mention the Jesuit-inspired modules of Ehem! and Aha! If you are interested to run this anticorruption modules in your institution or agency, just visit Ateneo de Naga University for details. Dr. Ronnie Amorado has also come up with an interesting book about fixers in the Philippines, "Fixing Society"

Coordination and synergy
The WB-KDC, TAN, and GPBB workshop provided an opportunity for people (with more or less common advocacy) to sit down together and talk about the things they are doing. It is along this line that I put forward my call for a more coherent view of these initiatives from the local perspective. For example, I would like to see findings of various anticorruption initiatives such as PDAF Watch, Textbook Count, Procurement Watch, etc. presented together and showing the picture of a regional status. As much as I appreciate national presentations and policy advocacy, I also feel the need to evolve a more relevant tool for data utilization in the local level.

Forging a united front
The fight against corruption is a complex and multidimensional struggle: personal and social dimensions in the local, national, and even international level must be confronted. Our inherent personal and collective weaknesses must not be an obstruction. Instead, it must be an inspiration for working harder, overcoming obstacles. We always strive for the "more", the "better". We do this not only for ourselves, for our family and children, or for our society. We do it for the greater glory of God.

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