Can a Private Right of Action Solve State Capture in the Philippines?: A Skeptical View

Last month, as a part of the LIDS Global initiative (discussed here), a research team at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) put forth an ambitious legal proposal to combat corruption in the Philippines. The centerpiece of the proposal is a private right of action that would allow individual citizens to bring civil claims against public officials for violations of the Philippines’ Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The proposal is designed to overcome the problem of “state capture”–the shaping of laws, rules, and regulations through illegal and non-transparent payments to public officials. Because state capture is so severe in the Philippines—reaching even high-ranking officials within the country’s own anticorruption agencies—citizens cannot “rely solely on the political will of government officials to prosecute their peers in the government.” The private cause of action is intended to address (or at least circumvent) this problem by enabling private citizens injured by corruption to go directly to court, without having to rely on public enforcers.

While I agree that state capture presents a huge problem for anticorruption efforts, I’m skeptical that the proposed private right of action will be effective–at least in the Philippines. The roots of my skepticism are threefold: Continue reading

Announcement: New Collaborative Research Report on Legal Responses to Corruption

Harvard Law School’s Law & International Development Society (LIDS) last year launched a new initiative — LIDS Global — to promote international collaboration on research projects related to the role of law in promoting development. The first LIDS Global project focuses on legal responses to corruption, emphasizing in particular legal mechanisms that will promote compensation of corruption’s victims, as well as other forms of remediation. This collaborative effort, which builds on a thoughtful and provocative article authored by several LIDS members last year, features contributions from teams in India, Tanzania, Singapore, and the Philippines. It’s definitely worth a look. The LIDS announcement and description of the project is here; the full text of the LIDS Global Report is here.