Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje Tuesday thanked the business sector for giving the agency improved marks as reflected in the results of a sincerity survey recently published by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
Paje said the survey results showing a big jump in the DENR’s ratings from a “Bad” -34 score in 2009 to a +1 in 2012 clearly showed that the agency’s journey towards the “matuwid na daan” (straight path) is slowly paying off.
Despite the improvement, however, Paje said his agency still needs the business sector’s help in improving its delivery of services to the public.
“We still need the assistance and support [of the business sector] so that we will be able to gauge the effectiveness and appropriateness of various reforms we have been undertaking to improve our service to the public,” he said.
The ratings, presented during the recent Second Integrity Summit, were a result of the 2012 SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption conducted from July 16 to Sept. 14, 2012. The SWS described the survey as having the largest sample size and broadest area coverage, with interviews of executives of 826 small, medium and large companies.
Prior to this year’s survey, SWS had ran the same survey, from 2005 to the last survey in 2009, where the DENR was given a consistently “Bad” average rating of -33.
“For the first time since the sincerity survey was conducted, we got a positive rating. This means we were one of the regulatory agencies which have been regaining the confidence of the public in our anti-corruption stance,” he stressed.
For Paje, the results showed the determination of the agency to execute good governance as a cornerstone of the Aquino administration, “from cleansing our own ranks to promoting transparency in our transactions with the public.”
He attributed the improved rating to measures the DENR has been implementing as part of its anti-corruption drive. Among these are the posting of all contracts and bidding results in the DENR website; and the holding of a consultative meeting with civil society organizations on the agency’s proposed budget for 2013. He said that these measures were “to engage the public and other stakeholders in governance.”
The environment chief added that the agency is also in the process of “cleansing its ranks” by prosecuting and penalizing erring personnel. To date, more than 60 personnel have been dismissed or suspended, 34 were charged for various offenses, while 176 were placed under investigation. Suspended personnel include the 31 officials relieved in June this year for their supposed failure to stop illegal logging in the Caraga region.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have also been installed in all DENR offices nationwide, meant not only as a security measure for employees but also to promote transparency and accountability and eradicate fixers. For the same purpose, process flow charts have also been strategically posted in all offices to assist the public in their transactions with the agency.
Paje has also designated a senior official as head of the agency’s Internal Audit and Anti-Corruption Office to supervise the investigation of personnel, as well as act on complaints from the public.
He also gave credit to other government agencies that the DENR has closely been working with, such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and the Department of Education, for helping institute measures that “would intensify the drive against those who continuously abuse our environmental laws.” He likewise mentioned the vigilance of civil society against such violations, as well as their initiative in partnering with the government in environmental programs.