MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Has Anyone Been Surprised By The Arroyo Government's Rise To The Most Corrupt List Of The World?

Published by MAC on 2005-01-28
Source: Kalikasan-PNE

Has anyone been surprised by the Arroyo government's rise to the most corrupt list of the world?

Kalikasan-PNE Press Statement

January 28, 2005

The recent findings of the survey of World Economic Forum (WEF) naming the Philippine government as 2nd to the most corrupt in the world surprises no one. Since 2001, the Arroyo administration has been plagued by numerous corruption scandals like the Jose Pidal account, the $400 million IMPSA project scam, the Php1.1 billion Macapagal Boulevard, and Major Gen. Garcia's military scams, etc.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Php100 billion of the annual budget is lost to corruption while Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo estimates it to be around Php200 billion a year. This money could build more than 1,050,000 houses for the poor or could support 4,550,000 children through six years of elementary education, expand road networks, build bridges, construct more irrigation facilities and purchase medicine for the indigents.

Corruption has been becoming more entrenched with every president. It has become common practice in just about every branch of the government so much so that most people reacted with nonchalance to the above-quoted news, inured to the reality of corruption in official circles. According to a Social Weather Station survey in 2004, most business firms in the country set aside 22% of their budget for bribes to get government projects approved. A recent Asian Development Bank survey also says that foreign corporations offer bigger bribes and allot more of their revenues for grease money.

Recently, word has been getting out that big transnational oil and mining companies provided a hefty $50 million as 'slush fund' to campaign for the reversal of the January 2004 decision of the Supreme Court (SC) declaring the Mining Act of 1995 unconstitutional and violates our national patrimony. In December 1, 2004, the SC reversed itself and uphold the said Act.

This is not surprising. Big oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and US-based Texaco, both of which own 90% of the Malampaya natural gas project, and mining transnational company, Climax Arimco, which is a 100% foreign owned company, raised their "concerns" over the decision. They were worried that the SC decision would affect their existing multibillion peso projects in the Philippines.

Consequently, the top officials of the land particularly President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House Speaker Jose De Venecia, Senator Richard Gordon, NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri and DTI Secretary Cesar Purisima expressed disappointment with the earlier SC decision and chorused with their "unsolicited opinion" that an SC reversal will be good for the people and the economy. International financing institutions such as World Bank provided funds for the government to implement its program and projects to promote mining liberalization. Not one from the government raised hell that this smacks of foreign intervention, a simple case of influence peddling or political pressuring.

On the SC reversal, the justices said that the "mineral wealth and natural resources of the country are meant to benefit not merely a select group of people living in areas affected by mining activities but the entire Filipino nation, present and future, to whom the mineral wealth really belongs."

But we ask, will the Filipino people really benefit from the mining liberalization program of the government? Can we really hope for genuine development with the world's 2nd most corrupt government salivating over the dream of generating mining wealth of $840 billion?

It is stupidity to even think that the answer to both is in the affirmative. But how much more stupid is it of the government to expect that the Filipino people will stand by its abject corruptibility.

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