Corruption is deadlier than COVID-19 | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Corruption is deadlier than COVID-19

Early this year, Transparency International (TI) released the results of the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) among 180 countries, with data gathered in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CPI ranks countries according to their performance where a score of 100 indicates that a country is very clean, or devoid of corruption, while a score of 0 means a country is highly corrupt. TI also noted that the average score worldwide is 43 out of 100. This indicates that leaders in many countries have fallen to the dark side of corruption, amassing wealth from public coffers through their positions of power and privilege.

In the latest TI survey, South Sudan and Somalia were at the bottom with a score of 12 out of 100. Six countries have consistently been top scorers from 2012 to the latest survey done in 2020. Denmark and New Zealand ranked No. 1 with a score of 88, followed by Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, and Sweden, which all scored 85.

The Philippines, meanwhile, scored a measly 34, ranking No. 115 out of 180 countries. This is also a failing score, and lower than the country’s ranking in 2019.


In its analysis, TI noted that corruption is quite “pervasive in countries least prepared to handle COVID-19 and other crises.” It added that “[c]orruption undermines an equitable response to COVID-19 and other crises, highlighting the importance of transparency and anti-corruption measures in emergency situations.”

TI’s findings show that corruption can exacerbate the impact of a health crisis, such as a pandemic, and other emergency situations. For instance, relief packages for victims of man-made disasters like armed conflict can be overpriced, with the amount that is added to purchase each package pocketed by greedy welfare officials.

In 2019, a plunder case was filed against five top officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in South Cotabato for having distributed more than 1 million overpriced food packs to the survivors of the 2017 Marawi siege. The case was based on the findings of a lawyer from the Office of the Ombudsman that the food packs, priced at P515 each in the purchase order, was actually bought at P318 per pack. This meant that for every pack, the five officials pocketed almost P200. A South Cotabato congressman was also involved in the case, as the food packs were purchased in a shopping mall in Tacurong City, which was owned by his family. Just why the food packs were purchased from a city that is more than 250 kilometers away from Marawi is also quite puzzling, if not for the nefarious motive of amassing instant wealth in just one transaction! Indeed, disasters are instant pots of gold for corrupt DSWD officials.

All public funds lost to corruption could have been used to establish public health programs and services, or to build treatment centers for heart disease, which according to the World Health Organization, was the leading cause of death in the Philippines in 2018, with 120,800 deaths.


That money could have also been used for vaccines against COVID-19, which has already killed more than 12,000 people. While COVID-19 may not be as deadly as heart disease, it is highly contagious. However, COVID-19 has several vaccines already being made available to boost people’s immunity. Unfortunately there is no vaccine for corruption, and thus it can be deadlier than COVID-19.

Comments to [email protected]

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

TAGS: corruption, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, Transparency International

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.