Corruption in the Philippines: Where is the Money Going
Guilty or not guilty, these are the words that we all have waited for as our former President Joseph Estrada faces the 211 pages verdict by the Sandigan Bayan for graft and corruption charges way back in 2001. The moment of truth had passed and the accused was declared guilty. Countless allegations followed, from PGMA to the senators and congressmen allegedly involved in the PDAF scam.
With this as an example we have proven once again that corruption is rampant in the country that even the once most influential person in the land was capable of doing this disgraceful act. Maybe this time we should ask ourselves, are we not doing any actions against corruption or are we just lax in implementing existing laws against it or are we involved in such acts.
One broad definition of corruption is the violation of norms of duty and responsibility for personal gain. It includes embezzlement where public funds are used for one's own benefit and nepotism where friends, relatives and associates are appointed to public offices on the bases of the relationship rather than merit. In the Philippine context, corruption has been cited as one of the economic problems that hinder us from becoming a first world country. In 1982, the cost of corruption to the national economy was estimated roughly P8 billion or 10 percent of our GNP. After five years as observed by the Non-government organization "Gising Bayan", P100 million are being lost every day and in 1996 the office of the ombudsman reported that P1.4 billion was lost annually-this was indicated by court cases for the recovered assets and government lost funds and assets. Also in the same year, the Philippines ranked 11th as the world most corrupt nation in the world according to Transparency International. What is the implication of these numbers? It tells us that despite the fact that we have scarce resources to sustain the needs of this country, billions and billions of pesos are being lost due to corruption.
Are we not bothered about the cost it can bring us in the near future? Maybe some of you do not feel the effects of corruption or some don't even care. But come to think of it that this money came from people's taxes. Do you want your money to be wasted that easily knowing that you worked hard to earn that? Let us look how corruption gets to us. We all know that we have a budget deficit, but how can we provide social services with this kind of situation where much of our money was lost for nothing. Look at our classrooms, how can we provide quality education if we lack books and classrooms? In the country, every infrastructure is overpriced. Take for example NAIA III that has been moth balled for a very long time, the Macapagal Boulevard that can be considered as the most expensive boulevard in the country or even in the world. We have laws, but how can we provide tooth to these laws if we do not have money to fund these laws, even the environment will suffer because of lack of funds for the implementation of conservation measures. Also debt servicing is not an old issue to us, if we could only have our budget a hundred percent free of corruption, maybe we have already paid these debts. There are many more, including crime, political patronage, high cost of doing business, loss of investors confidence and etc.
Yes it is true that completely eradicating corruption is impossible but we have to strengthen these counter measures at least to lower this and Lowering the cases of corruptions mean that we can allocate and maximize our scarce resources for other services. How are we going to achieve this? There are counter measures already exist to combat this like reducing opportunities for corruption, reforms in campaign finances, increasing public oversight, reforming budget processes, improving the civil service and etc. But who spearhead these efforts? There are people in charge but this is useless if we citizens do not have the coordination and cooperation with the agencies involved. Just like in the old saying, "Kung hindi ngayon, kelan? at kung walang gagawa, sino ang gagawa? We have suffered many times and we have bee mom poverty for centuries and we better act now before we ran out of time. Remember that this is not only for us but also to our children’s children.