CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/18 January)–With all our advances in education, science, and technology, we ought to be embarrassed about how backward our politics and politicians remain. Corrupt as ever, they make you wonder about our institutions: the church, the state, the civil society.
Why would anyone with pretensions to being a leader or statesman fool around with corruption or tolerate wrongdoing? They freeze-frame the condition of our society in an ugly portrait, as if that of Dorian Grey’s.
The sad thing about all this is, it is not even a new portrait. The 5th President of our Republic, Diosdado Macapagal, described how politics and politicians behaved in his time and you’d think he was describing the future, especially during his own daughter’s term as our 10th president.
“Upon his election,” Macapagal wrote, “the politician will recover what he spent in the campaign. Since his emoluments are not adequate for this, he uses the influence of his office to make money through some business and profession or through direct graft…[He] will raise more than double what he spent in the campaign in order to cover his past expenditure, the expense of the next campaign, and a residue for him. The more he spent in the campaign, the worse and more expensive the graft.
“The financial backers of a corrupt politician become his accomplices in graft. Their candidate having won, these corruptors collect their reward after the victory. They are able to obtain official decision and influence irrespective of merit because the politician will continue to depend on them in his future political campaigns. The more they contribute to the campaign funds of the politician, the more inordinate and illicit the concessions they obtain from the government. Under such circumstances, the government is compelled to operate not for service to the people but for favors to privileged individuals and groups.
“This conspiracy between the politician, his financiers and other corruptors has through the years become a deep-seated setup in the government. What is worse is that the situation is not improving in favor of faithful public service but is deteriorating.”
These were the words of the “Poor Boy from Lubao” at the time he was gunning for the presidency of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. (From A New Constitution for the Philippines, p. 78, Mac Publishing House, Quezon City: 1970.)
If he was alarmed by the quantum of corruption then, one wonders how his own daughter, 10th president, felt in her time. Mind how she is perceived as having exponentially spread corruption with no less than her husband as co-conspirator.
During her father’s time, we had already been singled out for corruption, which she should have taken a cue from. In a book titled The Asian Drama (Pantheon Books, New York, 1968), Gunnar Myrrdal, noted Swedish sociologist and economist who had been a UN executive and Nobel Prize Winner, cited the Philippines, as follows:
“Graft and corruption permeate all levels of public life. Perhaps in no other country in South Asia is political dishonesty so widely recognized, accepted, and talked about as part of the political game.”
Now almost half a century since he penned these words, a sense of national pride or shame or embarrassment should drive us to cleanse corruption in our immediate community (our own barangay) at the least.
Indeed, let’s do it! Let’s begin to cleanse our sysrem and rid it of the political animals that debase our nation, impoverish our economy, and fatten their dynasties at our expense! (Manny Valdehuesa was former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of the Southeast Asian Publishers Association, a director at Development Academy of the Philippines, vice chair of the Local Government Academy, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. He heads Gising Barangay Movement as national convenor and president. He can be reached at [email protected])