WORM’S EYEVIEW: Corruption in the barangay (actually in public life, generally)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/10 January) — Corruption in the barangay, our basic political unit, as well as in other units of government, is like sin that lurks in the human heart. It afflicts private and public lives and bedevils our community and society.

Everyone is exposed to corruption, especially officials, and no one is deemed to be exempt or invulnerable. And like sin, it comes in various forms.

There’s pride which is manifested as arrogance, self-importance, self-love, or unseemly conceit. Pride drives an official to act like an autocrat or martinet. He won’t bother to consult on his decisions or actions. Nor will he take pains to honor the principle of consent-of-the-governed through public hearings. He’ll just do what he wants.

Pride will push him to do whatever he likes. It will make him presume that it is what everyone else likes also, or should like. It makes him presumptuous. He could become a tyrant who thinks his behavior makes him out to be a disciplinarian.

There’s greed which makes him obsess about acquiring power, wealth, honor, and credit for achievement. The cupidity of this official is betrayed by his penchant for aggrandizing dominion over people, ideas, or things. He is clannish and is a dynasty-builder. He will put his family’s mark on every conceivable thing or achievement. And he shamelessly imposes his family’s control over politics and economics, boasts about being able to do so, and revels over the fact. Rarely will he be a statesman.

Then there’s envy which begrudges goodness in others, in which an official is loathe to acknowledge success or achievement outside of his own or of his family’s or clan’s.

This is the official who insists on establishing new programs or projects to replace previous ones, or renames places or things to ensure his or her own glorification. Beware of his wrath or fury. For in his jealousy, he will destroy your good works and sacrifice your wellbeing to ensure his own welfare and blame others for doing so.

There’s also gluttony which seeks to devour everything unfavorable or disadvantageous that lies in its path. Gluttony is excess, an uncommon indulgence in pleasure or pleasurable delights like gambling, smoking, carousing, eating or drinking, even sex.

Gluttony also encompasses greed, avarice, attachment to worldly possessions. It offends human decency and dignity and debases a person.

Not least, there’s sloth which is laziness, apathy, or indifference—which are deadly to the misery and suffering of the poor and disadvantaged or social problems in general. Slothful leaders rarely set records for public service or make a difference in the community.

Corruption is sin or wrongdoing. Come to think of it, it embodies all the seven capital sins!

It is an offense against goodness, against doing the good expected of a citizen or public servant. It is the ever-present threat to our way of life and our living arrangements. And like the devil, it is always on the prowl. That’s why we must be on the lookout, and guard against it.

For it usually is unnoticed—unless it strikes in a big way, inflicting damage where it’s least expected, causing tremendous impact.

Take the pork barrel and its abuse. It had been around for sometime but no one saw its dark side. No one saw how it got officials and constituents addicted or how it crept up on our congressional districts, even on some of its churches and churchmen. Then it exploded on prime time and the front pages and could no longer be ignored.

Now there’s the DAP, so-called Disbursement Accelerated Program concocted by the department of budget and management. It’s still a developing story, still to be judged by the court. But it’s looking every bit as shocking—and bigger!—than the pork barrel. Let the vigil continue!

Manny was former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, director at development academy of the Philippines, vice chair at Local Government Academy, and 2004 PPI-Unicef awardee for outstanding columnist. He heads Gising Barangay Movement as national convenor and president. valdehuesa@gmail.com