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Why RP Won’t Survive as Half-loot?

February 15, 2008

 IT is important to identify what causes impoverishment in the Philippines. While it is implied above that poverty was somehow triggered by the dark lords of the past (the three superpower countries that invaded and ruled this land), there are, however, internal factors that somehow aggravated or tightened this rope of damnation around the neck of Juan de la Cruz.

There are four factors that drove intensely the already awful level of poverty to indescribable proportions. They are (1) culture of corruption and impunity, (2) bad governance, (3) undermined rule of law, and (4) the continuing enmity characterized by the government’s war on insurgency and the so-called ‘enemies of the state’. These four causes of poverty, which can be likened to the four horses of the Apocalypse, are the main exponent of the numerous problems this nation is facing these days.

The top ally of poverty is the culture of corruption and impunity. The first is the clear manifestation of what most of our government leaders, police authorities and the law enforcement mechanisms have become, robbing the public of both its treasure and soul, while the second is the appalling guarantor of the former, similar to a cordon sanitaire that seeks to ensure that public accountability is effectively derailed.

There are two kinds of corruption – the physical corruption, which is the brazen embezzlement of public wealth, and the moral corruption, which is the worst of all burglaries known to man, because it destroys the very foundation upon which the concept of state, or nation, is established— that Aristotelian concept heralding that a state must be most concerned with virtue: “for where this concern is lacking, a political community degenerates into a mere alliance, differing only in spatial extent from those alliances whose members live apart; while law degenerates into a mere compact – ‘a guarantor of mutual rights,’ without any power to produce goodness and justice in its citizens.”

It is important to distinguish the form, source, extent and effects of these two existing forms of corruption. The bold dishonesty of our public officials resulted in the accumulated ill-gotten wealth as in the case of Marcos and the unexplained wealth of most of our public officials, past and present, which, if properly accounted for, would amount to unimaginable proportions. Reports said that from the time of Marcos up to the incumbent administration, the price of unaccounted official deceit would not fall below one trillion pesos.

Imagine if this huge amount of money were rather devoted to the creation of livelihood programs and other endeavors that would somehow give the jobless not ‘bread” but ‘fishing rod’ to catch fish. Imagine if part of this P1 trillion were used for services, infrastructure developments and agricultural reforms and projects like irrigation system that would benefit farmers. Just imagine if crumbs of this embezzled money went to education, which, according to the government is “now declining continuously”, to solve the country’s education crisis. That stolen public money could have been used for the improvement of our justice system and court rooms, so that that constitutional mandate of ‘speedy trial’ and ‘justice for all’ were religiously followed.

But if our soul, our morals, were stolen from us, that would be the worst of all tragedies. If people’s morals were corrupted, they would be reduced to living dead, unable to determine right from wrong— unable to feel and to see evil— because that very fountainhead of man’s morals and virtue has been despoiled— conscience.

One good example of this is the recent bribery at the Malacanang Palace wherein 190 representatives and a good number of local executives allegedly received “paper bags” stuffed with cash. Even a grade three pupil would think there’s something wrong with the dole out, not only because our officials are unable to explain the source of the money, but also because it was done right in the official residence of the president, or right under her nose, so to speak.

What was looted here was the money that was supposed to be channeled to its rightful beneficiaries. But there is something that officials at the Malacanang palace wanted to take from their people – their conscience. They wanted their subjects to believe that there was nothing wrong with the dole out because it was intended for good use, and they have made desperate justifications to show that the “gift-giving” was done in good faith. Other officials tried to convince the public that it was part of government’s tradition as it was also practiced by past administrations. Have they forgotten that man’s law is based on natural law?—that it is based on reason? Tradition, however ancient it is and its intention noble, cannot run roughshod over reason. The first is made by men, mostly by a collective block masquerading as public servants, while the second is man’s only absolute. Rational law cannot be made to kneel in prostration to man’s deceitful wits, whims and caprices.

Rule of law demands that justice be done to this culture of corruption and impunity now deeply entrenched in our system of government. This is to end that farcical scheme that reduces this country to a mere subject of robbery— by looters-by-law and moochers-by-affiliation. As what Aristotle pointed out: “The state exists, however, not merely that men may live but that they may live well.”

On the other hand, bad governance refers to both mismanagement and mishandling of the country’s political and economic affairs. The Filipino has heard a great deal about bad decisions and faulty visions of his past leaders. These national schemes had turned into a tragedy owing to the abuse of the rule of law.

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