Unpacking Corruption Techniques and Countermeasures

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This paper discusses mechanisms of corruption in the Philippines and surveys impact evaluation studies of anti-corruption initiatives across the world with a focus on bottom-up or grassroots approaches. Corruption is an age-old issue faced by societies all over the world, but most especially by developing countries that do not yet have the strong institutions that could curb corrupt behavior and tendencies. In the Philippines, corrupt activities take on many forms from vote-buying to bid-rigging. Because of corruption, citizens have difficulty in accessing to quality public goods and services. Literature on corruption has evolved from focusing solely on the relationship between public officials and top bureaucrats/politicians (“horizontal accountability”) and has expanded to the accountability mechanisms between voter and politician (“vertical accountability”) and citizen and public servants (“social accountability”). Grassroots approaches addressing social accountability mechanisms have become increasingly popular in developing countries as these fit well with community-driven politics in these societies and empowers citizens in these countries to push back against erring officials. However, there are issues in the effectiveness of grassroots approaches because of the community’s possible lack of capability in processing and acting on information related to government activities, the lack of power in collective civil action, and its susceptibility to local capture by elites. More than ever, it is crucial for those in developing countries to be more watchful of the different players involved in corruption and how existing anti-corruption initiatives are holding up in the ever-changing political landscape.