Social accountability, antidote to corruption

Eagle Eyes

With this column, I resume the series on social accountability which I began last month. So far as I have written three columns on the subject: introducing this new governance tool, discussing how it could be mainstreamed, and defining it. In this column, I will examine the utility of social accountability as a solution to corruption, a timely topic given the recent re-arrest of ex-General Carlos Garcia to serve his court-martial sentence.

When we speak of anti-corruption, the popular images which appear to the layman’s mind are that of the “crusading, crime-busting official” (usually the Ombudsman, especially now with former Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales in the office) or the “lone voice in the wilderness”, often personified by the whistleblower (such as Clarrisa Ocampo, Jun Lozada) or a conscientious, compassionate public servant (like Heidi Mendoza) against an insensitive and corrupt bureaucracy. Yet the battle for efficient, effective, and responsive governance is one that is not successfully fought alone.

As the old adage goes, “it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.” More accurately, it is a relay race: more than one participant contribute to sustaining the effort towards the finish line. In fact, it is sad to reiterate that one reason why anti-corruption has yielded sluggish results in the Philippines is that we, as citizens, demand clean government yet fail to supply resources to make such government successful and sustainable.

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