The Philippines was again put on the spotlight (in a bad light) albeit, erroneously when actor Taylor Kitsch told David Letterman in the latter's late night show about how he ran into some trouble on his way to work in the Philippines to shoot his latest film, Savages. The interview seemed to suggest that the bribery incident encountered by the actor happened in a Philippine airport. Letterman mentioned the Philippines when he talked about the shoot -- but Kitsch failed to correct him and say that the filming took place in Indonesia. Recent clarifications however revealed that the incident happened in Indonesia and not in the Philippines.
A recent article from The New York Times reported about the website ipaidabribe.com, a site that collects anonymous reports of bribes paid, bribes requested but not paid and requests that were expected but not forthcoming.
The site aims to collect reports of bribery with the ultimate goal of using such reports in advocating with the government for an improved system.
The bribery stories found on the site range from costs of claiming a legitimate income tax refund in Hyderabad, India amounting to 10,000 rupees to the going rate to get a child who has already passed the entrance requirements into high school in Nairobi, Kenya in the amoount of 20,000 shillings and even the expense of obtaining a driver’s license after having passed the test in Karachi, Pakistan which will cost 3,000 rupees.
A huge percentage of the reports to the site tell stories like the ones above of officials and bureaucrats seeking illicit payments to provide routine services or process paperwork and forms.
Similar sites have been set up in other countries such as Kenya, Pakistan and the Kingdom of Bhutan, all with the same goal of exposing stories of bribery-slash-corruption.
Reports show that the site had an impact in Bangalore, India, when the transport commissioner collected data from the ipaidabribe website to push through with reforms in the motor vehicle department. Senior officers were cautioned while many others received counseling. As to policy reforms, licenses are now applied online and Bangalore became home to the world's first automated driving test tracks (a track wherein applicants for licenses get to navigate and demonstrate driving skills - all monitored electronic sensors, hence, eliminating the whims and fancies of the motor vehicle inspectors).
How I wish setting up such a site in our country could impact the Philippine system similarly.
Agnes M. Santiago, Entry No. 12