Why corruption can’t be eradicated

In the wake of President Duterte’s war against corruption, people ask—will he succeed?

My answer is that he won’t. At best, he can only minimize corruption in government.

I have been a journalist for almost seven decades now and I can say for sure that corruption is embedded in government. Some even say that this is a way of life. Says a joke about corruption in Southeast Asia: In Vietnam, it’s over the table. In Indonesia, it’s under the table.

In the Philippines, it’s including the table!

Corruption in the Philippines is part of doing business. I know for a fact that companies and businesses allot so-called “facilitation” or “contingency” fees in their budget, for the specific purpose of bribing government officials.

In a way, it takes two to tango. To a business, time is precious. Santa Banana, if you don’t grease some palms as you get permits and licenses, you will get nowhere.

I know this because my son opened a shop across Greenbelt in Makati. He had to go through the wringer—permits from the barangay and the sanitation department, permit to construct a mezzanine, an electrical permit, and so on. It took him three months just to get the permits, until he had to hurdle the last one, the mayor’s permit. He was asked to pay up P50,000 “for the boys.”

My son sought my help, and a businessman friend advised me to go to a councilor to get the mayor’s permit. My son eventually got it.

I tell this story to illustrate how difficult it is to open even just a small business in Makati. I can imagine how difficult it must be in the provinces.

President Duterte supposedly fires friends, classmates, fraternity brothers who have a whiff of corruption about them. But then he recycles them. This is why I say that success or failure in the war against corruption is an issue of leadership and credibility.

Corruption can never be eradicated. It can only be minimized. In the Filipino psyche, gifts are not necessarily bribes. The Asian way is to express gratitude through gifts.

Still, this gets out of hand. You have to grease the palm of congressmen or senators when you are trying to get a franchise or a renewal of it. This is just pro-forma—the usual thing.

* * *

The Supreme Court’s final decision ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is not unexpected. From the start, it was apparent that the justices would not change their minds about the quo warranto case.

Actually, there was nothing new in her appeal. She just said that she could only be ousted through impeachment, that the Supreme Court did not consider the prescription period, and that the decision was arrived at by justices who had been prejudiced against her.

My gulay, that Sereno failed the acid test of integrity was clear when she failed a number of times to submit her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth when she was a professor at the UP College of Law.

She did not only violate the Constitution. She betrayed public trust. She showed that she lacked the necessary rectitude expected from a high public official.

A good question has been asked: What will Sereno do next? I really don’t know because she is also facing contempt charges because she discussed her case in public. She also ranted against the justices she thought should have inhibited themselves from her case. She may even be disbarred!

I believe the opposition will try to make her a rallying point, as some kind of victim of oppression and persecution. There are also reports that the opposition may include her in the Liberal Party Senate ticket.

But how can we vote for somebody proven lacking in integrity?

* * *

The unsolicited proposal of San Miguel Corp. to build a P750-billion aeropolis in Bulacan, which would come at no cost to government, would certainly be a game changer.

The plan is to build the aeropolis on a shoreline property near Malabon and Navotas

Aside from this, SMC’s Ramon Ang has also offered to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for free so the government could run it more efficiently.

Note that a consortium of seven conglomerates has also proposed to rehabilitate Naia. There is also the plan of Henry Sy Sr. to build an international airport at Sangley Point, together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

But the proposed airport in Bulacan is really something different. It will have no less than four runways with length of 3.32 kilometers each, and air bridges accommodating 200 planes taking off and landing at the same time. Compare this to the current capacity of less than 50 at Naia.

Ang has promised the creation of 20 million jobs.

What I find interesting is that this proposed airport will be connected to Metro Manila expressways and rail projects.

* * *

I was taken aback when I heard the President say on TV that there would be no justice for families of slain suspects in the war against illegal drugs. He also said he would not tolerate policemen going to jail for alleged killings.

Santa Banana, hearing this got me thinking. What about those who were killed without cause? Don’t they deserve justice?

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Ramon Ang , Henry Sy Sr , San Miguel Corp
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