Sunday Essays: To solve is to battle

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

DESPITE efforts to attain progress in different aspects in the country, it is quite a shame to admit that Philippines is undeniably a golden coin that sits at the bottom of a glass of mud.

Philippines, a country rich in resources, skills and means is hindered on its way to advancement by corruption. Instead of these assets being used, it is unfairly mismanaged by a lot of big names who hold power in the country.

Corruption in the government which is mostly in the forms of bribery, graft, nepotism, and embezzlement has always been rampant in the Philippines. Some say it is stitched into our culture.

It is during President Benigno Aquino’s years in the position that a number of huge expositions and busting of corruption surfaced such as the controversial abolishment of Philippine Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), probing of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and the cases sued against corrupt suspected government officials. Names were named, acts were punished.

But the roots of dishonesty have dug so deep that there’s just still so many of it and the tail of a corruption-free, progressive country cannot even be seen yet.

The following years of the Philippines will still be a system plagued by corruption.

It is good to see that advocacies of the current president have been working. Despite being slow, it is somehow a contribution to be considered. But based on what is given, Filipinos still have a long way to go.

According to a World Bank study in 2008, corruption in the Philippines is considered to be the worst among East Asia’s leading economies and the country has sunk even lower among those seen to be lagging in governance reforms.

From ranking 141 among 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index by global watchdog Transparency International in 2008, the country jumped to 3rd on the year 2009. The nation scored 2.4 in the TI index, compared to 2.3 in 2008, which ranked it equal to Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Baltic state of Belarus.

Transparency International-Philippines President Rosalinda Tirona says on annual ranking of Corruption Perceptions Index that the 2012 data in which Philippines got a 34 on a scale of 100, 100 being the cleanest, that Philippines has to take more action to improve how things are done in the country.

More of these inefficiency and corruption was shown along with the hit of Typhoon Yolanda. When the strongest typhoon hit the country in December 2013, not only properties were uncovered but a lot of muddy acts have been exposed.

Immediately after the world knew about Yolanda, hundreds of millions of dollars, euros, donation goods and rescue aids poured in from different parts of the world. But even these were managed to become promotional means.

Donation goods were given with politicians’ names on it and plastic bags used for distribution have officials’ faces printed on. International organizations also complain of issues of why rescue goods were blocked and not reaching the victims. And worst, aid goods were found for sale in different cities. Affected areas have been warned to prepare and were provided with means yet they all ended up being severely devastated.

According to Rappler reporter Marites Danguilan Vitug, “President Aquino faces the worst corruption scandal in his administration, a ‘land mine’ left by his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but the roots of which lie deep in Philippine political culture”.

Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon also brings up his view that Bureau of Customs is obviously a hopeless case and better be abolished to start anew with the aim to get rid of the raging corruption inside.

With all these, we see that corruption in the country is just too deep to be solved by a single leader in years. This is a problem that takes decades and even more to get solved. It takes not a single one’s effort but a determined heart of citizens to change the whole system.

We are capable yet hindered. May Filipinos must see that indifference won’t solve anything. Everyone must realize that each penny and each time that passes unfortunately gets wasted on the hands of wrong people.

But yes, corruption can be solved. The next years may not be an assured time of freedom from corruption but with informed and determined hearts to bust exploitation, we can all make it years of gradual, piece by piece, bit by bit, slowly but surely steps of progress in the government system and in the whole country. (Mae-Anne Bornillo)

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Sunday Essays are articles written by Ateneo de Davao students for their journalism class.

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