MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) campaign might have picked up steam in the upper echelons of government but the campaign has not permeated bureaus and other lower offices, Senator Joker Arroyo said on Sunday.
Proof of this, he said, was when a customs employee assigned to the post office asked for a bribe from the senator’s driver when he went to there to claim a package that contained books.
“I thought books are not taxable. Is that not the law?” Arroyo complained in a phone interview.
The senator said he refused to give money to the driver, insisting that the parcel notice was issued by the post office itself and Arroyo’s own ID should be enough proof that he was indeed the addressee.
“He stayed in the post office a long time just to argue my case,” the senator recalled.
Arroyo said government employees appeared to have difficulty adhering to “daang matuwid,” the President’s philosophy against corruption that he first announced during his 2010 campaign.
The senator noted that his office has been receiving letters from constituents relating their own sob stories.
Still, Arroyo maintained his optimism about Mr. Aquino’s capability to carry out his anti-corruption plan before the end of his term in 2016.
“The good news is that ‘daang matuwid’ is taking hold in the upper echelons of the government, like in the departments so we should congratulate the President,” Arroyo said in a radio interview on Sunday
But not in lower levels of the bureaucracy, he added.
“Corruption continues. Maybe this would be corrected over time since the President has four more years. But as of now, go to any government office at the director’s level, it has not changed,” the senator said.
If corruption was eradicated from the bureaucracy, Arroyo said there would be no need for Charter change as a means to entice foreign investors.
He said foreign investors would be more attracted to consistency in business policies than a more liberal ratio in the control of assets and investments in the country.
The Constitution imposes a 40 percent ceiling on foreign ownership of properties and businesses.
“Corruption is the one that should be blamed for difficulty in investing and putting up a company. So we must stop corruption before foreign investors can put up shop. They complain of how long it takes to get a business permit, or how rules are changed after they set shop,” Arroyo noted.
Arroyo saw no need to amend the Constitution to respond to these issues.