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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Echaves: Citizens watch, 2

WHERE I live in Mandaue City, garbage has not been collected for over a week.

This is very disturbing, especially because our garbage bins easily overflow, what with many neighbors already accommodating transients, boarders and lodgers of all kinds.

This paralysis in service is not the first time. The last time this happened, the government’s contract with the outside provider allegedly had not been renewed. Maybe it still hasn’t, or the concerned department is again sleeping on its job.

Duterte hit it right with his remark “ang dumi ng Pilipinas.” So, time to see heads roll, and after 72 hours, hopefully?

In its Anti-Corruption Kit, Transparency International suggests formation of a “Zero Bribes” movement and cites India as example.

Initiating the “Zero Rupee” movement, members and other citizens, when asked for grease money, would “pay” with a bill that resembled the real rupee. This was actually fake paper money that bore anti-corruption messages.

The more members the group has, the more effective the “zero currency” notes become. Moreover, the corrupt government officials and employees know they’ve been unmasked as corrupt.

But, the more unscrupulous government employees will likely turn hostile. All the more it’s important to report to that number 8888 Duterte will reportedly launch as hotline to receive all complaints 24/7.

Another suggestion is to mobilize petitions and protest papers. In this age of Social Media, this seems easier now. Signatures can be collected online or offline, or both.

I’ve signed many a petition paper, the more recent ones on environment and climate issues. The organizers seem to be an avid and vigilant group.

It’s good to know the petition platforms here and elsewhere. Transparency International, for instance, reportedly has chapters in over 100 countries including the Philippines.

Also, there’s Change.org, admittedly the world’s largest petition platform. Its users so far total over 40 million in 196 countries and its site has been translated into eleven languages.

If petitions are aimed at the government, it’s better to know their guidelines. How many signatures are needed to merit attention? How should people’s names be signed-- printed, by signature or both? Do signatories have to be over 18 years old? To whom should the petition be addressed or sent?

In its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2015 report, Transparency International shared good and bad news. The bad news is that not a single country in the world is corruption-free.

The good news for us is that the Philippines has steadily improved its rating by dropping ten notches lower from its previous year’s rating, thus moving from 134th place to 95th.

Another counter-corruption approach is to mobilize youth groups. This would lend itself easily to political science students and civics courses.

Discussions could center on what to students is the biggest corruption issue today, what’s the real cause of this problem, what could be done about this, and what they could do as a group to help address this problem.

It may even be appropriate to work with an existing institution such as a church, school, sports club, civic organization, or even NGO.

Surely, with many helping hands, the fight against corruption will not be too unwieldy.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)
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