The Philippine president is yet to deliver on her pledges to stamp out corruption - and analysts say she is never likely to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's vows to clamp down on corruption have failed to reduce the scourge, observers said yesterday. In the wake of a series of embarrassing cases, a political scientist predicted more would emerge as next May's presidential election neared. Some commentators said Mrs Arroyo's announcement of another crackdown on Monday was made with an eye on the polls - even though she has dismissed any intention to run again. The president said that four senior tax and customs officials, each in government service for more than 20 years, had been sacked and would be charged with corruption. On July 14, Jemaah Islamiah terrorist Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi and two members of the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping group escaped from a high-security jail in Manila. That prompted the removal of 90 officers and men from their posts in the police intelligence group yesterday, in the most serious fallout yet from the escapes, which embarrassed Mrs Arroyo. 'We shall crack down on corruption in the same way we are cracking down on terror and drugs,' Mrs Arroyo said. 'Corruption does not only bring disgrace to the public service but strikes at the root of our national security and stability.' Her resolve and ability to make inroads into cutting corruption levels were widely questioned. Dolores Espanol, the Philippine chairperson of the Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International, said the incidence and size of the scams involving government officials had increased since Mrs Arroyo took office in January 2001. She had ousted president Joseph Estrada who was charged with corruption. Courts are still hearing the cases. Judge Espanol, who presides over a regional trial court in the Manila district of Cavite, said not one of the more than 500 cases before her at present involved corruption. She accused the Philippine National Police and Department of Public Works and Highways of being the most flawed government agencies. Transparency International's respected Corruption Perceptions Index last year ranked the Philippines 77th of 102 countries, equal with Pakistan and ahead of only Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh among the Asian countries surveyed. 'I'm always hopeful that Mrs Arroyo will realise and make a serious follow-through of her pronouncements,' Judge Espanol said. 'In the al-Ghozi case, the police and military are directly under her and she should get to the bottom of the problem. It is not enough that there will be an investigation. What is important is the prosecution of those found to be remiss in their responsibilities.' A week after al-Ghozi's escape, the president made much of the arrest of the Bureau of Inland Revenue and Bureau of Customs officials. While welcome, such moves did little to restore confidence in the Philippines economy, financial analyst David Fernandes said. The World Bank reported in April last year that growth in gross national product was 5.2 per cent while gross domestic product growth was 4.6 per cent - the strongest figures since the start of the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Mr Fernandes, the Singapore head of Sovereign Research for the investment banker J.P. Morgan, said data showed the nation's economy was performing ahead of expectations. Tax revenue collections were on track and this had been an important driver for market optimism. 'This is clearly constructive, but not news that should make anyone think that the structural inhibitors to a sustained improvement in revenues and therefore a tighter budget deficit is in place,' he said. Academic Alfredo Robles said anti-corruption drives were a regular feature of administrations in the Philippines. Corruption was a deeply rooted problem and difficult to eradicate because it was linked to the economy. Filipinos expected favours from politicians who, in turn, had to find ways of finding sufficient resources so that they could be re-elected. The pay of civil servants was also extremely low, despite rising living costs. 'We're hearing a lot more about corruption because the election year is getting closer,' said Dr Robles of De La Salle University in Manila. 'Spending will definitely increase as individuals and groups are probably trying to fill their campaign chests.' He described fighting corruption as a 'never-ending process'. But one factor in the Philippines' favour was that it had an open society and media able to report cases. Resulting government investigations might make little headway, but public perceptions could be made from information that was uncovered.