Sunday, March 9, 2008

Philippine Corruption: A Fearless Analysis

Corruption… Anyway we envision it either during Marcos time or before Marcos time, it is the same, because since man started counting time there was already corruption. We cannot avoid it because government is only governed by humans. A government that is clean and incorruptible is the government of angels.

I think there is no need to question sympathizers, relatives, friends or supporters who get the best position in government whenever the politician they're supporting wins in an election because that is normal in politics. You don't appoint your political adversary to a very sensitive position in government, but you have to appoint a trusted man coming from your own political party. In the case of JFK, when he was elected president of the US he appointed his own brother as the US Attorney-General.

The awarding of contracts of whatever kind to the politician's financial supporters is normal as long as it is not against the law. There is nothing to be against it. All of these they got it through political patronage….  Of course!

In an ideal political election campaign each opposing political party has its own economic platform presented to the people. They have financial supporters and also advisers to advice them on economic issues. Whoever will win after the elections, political advisers especially those who are dealing with the party's economic platform will get the juicy position in government, like the position of governor of the Central Bank or Secretary of Finance or BIR commissioner or Chief in the Bureau of Custom. Political supporters who cannot be accommodated in government positions will become lobbyists in the private sector. Sweet and juicy contracts in government are always cornered by these lobbyists.

This is where the issue of corruption emanates. Most of the times the issues are tainted with envy. For Filipino politicians one week is too long for the next election. That is how greedy they are in the pursuit of political power. In today's political skirmish in our country oppositionists device plans and political manoeuvres to fuel the anger of the people and oust a sitting president before his or her term ends. The conduit of this political manoeuvres is the media. The media is the one responsible in demonizing and spinning issues against a sitting president. The media is the one pretending to be the voice of the people.

Filipino intellectuals have the habit of glorifying the media as part of our system of living in a democratic society and most of them tend to believe and listen to the media as the voice of truth that, whatever is written in the press can be considered as if it is the truth in the gospel. But in a democracy the last bulwark is a court of law. This is where the other side of the truth is heard.

There is a lot of difference between the US media, our model of freedom of the press, and the press in the Philippines. In the US, I think there is mutual respect for both parties whoever wins the election by restraining each party and the media in the issue of corruption. For example is Halliburton Inc. which was chaired by Vice president Cheney… When he was elected vice president of the US he transferred the chairmanship of the company to his wife. Ever since G.W. Bush Jr. was elected president of the US, Halliburton Inc. is cornering all the government contracts in the Middle East especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is the US press shouting to high heavens of corruption between the government and Halliburton Inc.? I think not! Are government officials not reaping commissions from government contractors like Halliburton Inc.? Of course they are reaping commissions. Is receiving commission a form of corruption? The answer is…. No!

The two Filipino presidents demonized by the Philippine press as corrupt presidents are Erap and Marcos. They even landed in the Guinness Book of World Records as corrupt leaders. On records  the book says that Marcos amassed a whooping 10 billion dollars during his term as president. Aside stashing away billions of dollars Marcos also connived with Westinghouse Inc. in a corruption scandal in the contract of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant or BNPP. The Cory government discovered in Malacanang left by the Marcoses documents purportedly to be bribe receipts worth $10 million from Westinghouse Inc.. As I've said before that; "The last bulwark of democracy is the court of law"… So Atty. Rene Saguisag representing the Philippine government and Napocor went to Seattle to file the case against Westinghouse Inc. of corruption and bribery. Lawyer from Westinghouse Inc. testified that the 10 million dollars was a commission not a bribe  that even without Marcos anybody in his government will receive that amount. Atty. Rene Saguisag went home empty handed because the Seattle court rendered the decision in favor of Westinghouse Inc.. The court believes Westinghouse Inc. that it is not a bribe but a commission.  

I think there is an ocean of difference in definition of commission earned in government contract from corruption or bribery even in Philippine jurisprudence. I think we are only blinded by the press not to know the right definition.

People in our country like the students, the politicians and the business elite, people in the academe, the Philippine bishops and clergies, members of the media and the Filipino intellectuals… These are the people we can clearly classify with superior intelligent minds that can influence the political thinking of a nation… compared to the people who labored as maids, drivers, factory workers, blue collars OFW's, farmers, fishermen, basket and nipa weavers in the rural areas, quarrymen and the "coconut pilot" or the tuba gatherer… These are the people who are silent and uninfluencial and they cannot even understand the implication of a political issue yet, I believe they comprise the majority of the Filipino people. They are the one that holds the power through the ballot and not those minority that formed as a mob in Edsa.

In the constitution it is provided the people's participation. Is this mob people power or the power of the people through the ballot?

Daghang salamat!

R.A. Matig-a