Robbed: An Investigation of Corruption in Philippine Education

Winner: National Book Award for Journalism (1999)

THE DEPARTMENT of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) provides a classic case of corruption in the Philippines. Nearly all forms of corruption described in academic texts can be found in the department: from low-level bureaucratic corruption to high-level political corruption involving education officials, legislators, and Cabinet secretaries. The result is an education bureaucracy so ridden with graft that it is barely able to deliver the most basic educational services to the country’s 15 million public school students.

This investigation shows in graphic detail how corruption permeates all levels of the public educational system, from the DECS central office in Pasig to the school on a remote island in the fringes of the archipelago. Corruption assumes various forms, from petty or survival corruption engaged in by lowly clerks who sit on papers until suppliers cough up grease money to top-level corruption where policy-makers at the Pasig or regional offices change, bend or breach the rules to favor suppliers that come up with bribes.

The areas most vulnerable to corruption are procurement and recruitment. Money changes hands at nearly every stage of procurement, from the accreditation to the payment of suppliers. Money is also given out from the time a teacher applies for a job up to the time she requests for a change in assignment or works for a promotion. In some cases, expensive gifts replace money in cash-less transactions that take place in the education bureaucracy.

Embezzlement, nepotism, influence peddling, fraud and other types of corruption also flourish. Corruption has become so institutionalized that payoffs have become the lubricant that makes the education bureaucracy run smoothly. The result: an entire generation of Filipino students robbed of their right to a good education.

© 1999, 172 pages, ISBN 971-8686-26-6

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