Gov't 'less corrupt' for businessmen

MANILA, Philippines – A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey says the Aquino administration made "radical" progress in reforming the government. Fewer businessmen say they encountered “a lot” of corruption in government. 

Paterno Esmaquel reports.

Businessmen see less corruption in government, and President Benigno Aquino boosts their confidence.

A Social Weather Stations survey shows 42 percent of  businessmen in 2012 report “a lot” of corruption in government... down from 64 percent in 2009.

SWS president Mahar Mangahas says “radical progress” drives the government's anti-corruption campaign.

MAHAR MANGAHAS, president, Social Weather Stations

“To put the message in just one sentence, we are entitling this report as, 'The Fight Against Corruption Has Radically Progressed Since 2009.' That's the main run of our report... In a nutshell, the good news is in the public sector, and the disappointing news is in the private sector, which has not progressed as much as the public sector.

The SWS notes the most radical change comes from the Office of the President.

In terms of net sincerity in fighting corruption... the SWS says Aquino get an excellent grade at +81... an improvement from Gloria Arroyo's “bad” rating at -37 in 2009.

In his keynote speech, Aquino says integrity in government has produced “real, tangible” economic results. He says improving the business climate is his administration's priority.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, Philippine president

"We believe that a level playing field – in essence, a  just society – built upon institutions that are fortified by the people's trust, is the foundation of sustainable growth. We talk of sustaining growth because the Philippines is in it for the long haul."

He says he will not do the “politically prudent thing.”

I am faced with a choice. I can just kick a can down the road and let the next set of leaders deal with this problem. After all, the politically prudent thing to do will be to not rattle the cage, to not make any noise... I prefer to pick up the can rather than kick it down the road

But challenges remain especially for the private sector.

Makati Business Club chair Ramon del Rosario Jr says the challenge is immense... a culture that forces businessmen to play dirty if everyone else does.

RAMON DEL ROSARIO JR, chair, Integrity Initiative

What you're up against is this notion that if you are honest, and your competitor is not honest, then you don't have a level playing field. And in those instances, some people think that honesty and integrity become a competitive disadvantage, which is a very sad observation of things.

He says corruption doesn't start and end with the government.

It needs private citizens demanding integrity as well.

Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila. –