Despite implementing a multi-sectoral response to the pandemic, the Philippine government continues to struggle in containing the spread of the virus and mitigating its social and economic impact. With more than 200,000 total infections, the Philippines now leads Southeast Asia in the total number of COVID-19 cases. The current situation in the Philippines can be attributed to several factors including the lack of testing laboratories, inadequate supply of protective equipment for frontliners, and the failure of the Philippine government to prepare the country’s health sector and provide Filipinos with accurate information about the global health emergency. Aside from these, widespread corruption and the lack of transparency and accountability among government agencies has also undermined the country’s capability to recover
Driven by this, the Stratbase ADR Institute has organized a virtual town hall discussion last Friday in partnership with Transparency International-Philippines to discuss the need to fight “the pandemic of corruption” and how the government should ensure transparency and accountability in its COVID-19 response.
The pandemic has demonstrated the need for a strong and responsive government, particularly in countries with poor healthcare systems. At the same time, it has also proven that countries with weak institutions and lack of oversight become more vulnerable to corruption especially in times of crisis. In the case of the Philippines, the pandemic provides an opportunity for the Philippine government to promote transparency and accountability in its measures and policies.
Countries that have made significant progress in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic has prioritized the establishment of key digital infrastructures such as cloud-based and blockchain technologies to support their health sector and strengthen the effectiveness of their government response. By doing so, these countries have ensured that the delivery of their public and health services are safe, convenient, and suitable in the new normal.
Digital technologies wielded as a weapon to stop corruption can dismantle the so called entrenched culture of corruption by eliminating the points of human contact with secure and efficient and most of all most convenient digital transactions that are fully documented and transparent.
The Institute calls on the Philippine government to harness the expertise of the private sector and the participation of civil society who are ready to work in partnership in a digitized better normal.
Prof. Dindo Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute