ADRi vTHD: “Rule of Law in Times of Crisis: Combatting Corruption’s Economic Impact and Championing Human Rights in the Face of COVID-19”

International Anti-Corruption Day and International Human Rights Day hold special importance as these two concepts are central to supporting the rule of law and democracy –themselves crucial to our development as a nation in the new normal.

The Philippine government’s response to COVID-19 has been characterized by the unchecked movement of large discretionary funds, creating openings for corrupt practices by opportunistic public servants. This creates a multifaceted threat by interacting with the rising trend of human rights violations.

This is for three key reasons. First, corruption motivates human rights abuses by providing a financial reward for overriding accountability mechanisms and democratic institutions such the elections, free press, and an independent judiciary. Second, unchecked corruption undermines the rule of law, a key component in protecting human rights. Lastly, corruption has a direct negative impact on economic outcomes, increasing inequality and abuses.

An emerging risk in the area of corruption and human rights abuses is corrosive capital. Corrosive capital is the entry of foreign capital from authoritarian regimes that amplifies corruption. This form of capital succeeds by preying on existing issues in transparency, accountability, and democracy in target countries to create otherwise unreachable levels of profitability.  As corrosive capital enters, it further empowers corrupt practices and increases the likelihood and frequency of human rights violations.

Unlike legitimate investment that benefits the public by generating jobs and sustainable income that propel growth and economic development, corrosive capital instead enables corrupt officials and corrupt practices. Such corruption poses a threat to Philippine democracy and economic development by undermining the rule of law, increasing human rights violations, and fostering inequality.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the dangers of a fragmented response to an interlinked crisis. Corrosive capital, the human rights crisis, and corruption are not separate issues that merit isolated responses. Instead, these exist in a shared cultural, political, and economic ecosystem. This demands no less than a whole-of-society response at all levels, especially as we face a global health crisis and an upcoming presidential election in the Philippines.

This event aimed to bring the concerns of economic damage, human rights violations, and corruption under a single holistic approach, by which we may collectively address the issue.


Atty. Jenny Domino
Non-Resident Fellow, Stratbase ADR Institute;
Associate Legal Adviser, International Commission of Jurists

Opening Remarks
Prof. Dindo Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute

Corruption and Human Rights Violations: The Role of Civil Society
Judge Dolly Español
Chairperson, Transparency International-Philippines

Human Rights and the Rule of Law: Risks to the 2022 Elections and Philippine Democracy
Prof. Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan
Director, UP Institute of Human Rights

Economic Impact of Corruption
Mr. AJ Montesa
Economist, Action for Economic Reforms (AER)

Case Studies on Corrosive Capital
Mr. Edwin Santiago
Fellow and Member of the Editorial Board, Stratbase ADR Institute

Closing Remarks
Mr. Paco A. Pangalangan
Executive Director, Stratbase ADR Institute;
Lead Convenor, Democracy Watch Philippines

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