Business Matters

Culture of corruption

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The public uproar over the pork barrel scam is understandable because of the amount, P10 billion, and the personalities involved, seasoned and highly respected senators and congressmen who are bastions of power and influence in our country. And with Janet Lim-Napoles flaunting her presumably ill-gotten wealth by throwing extremely lavish parties, buying prime real estate here and abroad as well as 30 cars, and claiming illness while seated in her Louis Vuitton wheelchair, we would be so calloused if we do not get fuming mad.

This is so abhorrent because what were plundered were the taxes that came from the sweat and tears of the Filipino people. With no less than Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares pursuing tax collection like a pit bull, going after everyone including micro businesses, and a large population wallowing in poverty, this reaction is totally understandable. As expected, Filipinos from all walks of life, including the academe, the business sector, the Church and civil society, are demanding a thorough investigation and the prosecution of those involved. But wait, doesn’t this sound familiar?

Haven’t we been here before? Isn’t this déjà vu  for the nth time? Unfortunately, yes.

The current uproar and disgust are similar to that which met corruption during the Marcos dictatorship, the 2004 “Hello Garci” tapes that almost toppled the GMA administration, and the 2008 $329-million NBN-ZTE deal that catapulted whistle-blower Jun Lozada into the limelight. (Lozada, by the way, is now facing his own antigraft case and can possibly end up in jail ahead of, if ever, the perpetrators of the bribery scandal.)  And, of course, we also had the Public Estates Authority-Amari Manila Bay reclamation project bribery in the 1990s, the BW Resources stock manipulation scandal in early 2000, and the fertilizer fund scam of 2004. Not to mention the 2008 “euro generals” scandal, and the Pimentel III vs Zubiri “dagdag-bawas” electoral protest that Pimentel eventually won, leaving him but a few months to hold his senatorial post.

Furthermore, we have the 2009 Maguindanao massacre of 58 persons, including 34 media workers, the trial of which has barely gotten off the ground, and with some witnesses reportedly no longer willing to testify, and the murder of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega, with the alleged masterminds, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, managing to slip out of the country under the nose of the Bureau of Immigration. Sadly, all these celebrated cases have one thing in common. Except for the Maguindanao massacre where the key suspects are in jail while their trial is ongoing, all of the other corruption scams and bribery scandals are gathering dust in the courts, if ever cases were filed, or totally forgotten with no cases ever being filed!

The message is thus very clear: In the Philippines, corruption pays. And will continue to pay until we start putting these corrupt officials behind bars.

Often, justice is thought as served once the Senate or the House concludes its investigation in aid of legislation or the Office of the Ombudsman files a case in the Sandiganbayan. And we forget, or worse, forgive, and then move on. To many of us, it seems that the shaming that transpired during the televised congressional inquiry is enough penalty for the perpetrators. And if cases are ever filed, the case drags on in the judicial system for  10, 15, 20 years or more, thus giving the perpetrators all the time they need to buy the witnesses, prosecutors, judges, and even justices, or cause the “loss” of the original documents needed to convict.

This is a country where the corrupt can get the most brilliant lawyers available to prolong a case until the public loses interest and eventually forgets the crime.

Is there hope for us still? Can we clean up the corrupt executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government?

The P-Noy administration is our best hope at this time to arrest the culture of corruption that pervades our government. We elected him on his “Kung  walang corrupt,  walang  mahirap” campaign theme, after all. But will he do it? Will he have the determination to go after even his “kabarilan,  kaklase  at  kamag-anak” if they are proven corrupt? Will he exert enough influence to expedite the investigation, prosecution, conviction and incarceration of the corrupt in the high echelons of the government, particularly the judges and justices who allow these corruption cases to languish for decades in their courts?

We ordinary citizens can do our part in fighting corruption by not forgetting and not forgiving corrupt officials and not stopping until they are put behind bars, not after 5, 10 or 20 years, but in mere months! The Rules of Court have timelines on the expedient resolution of these cases. We the people should insist that these rules be strictly observed for justice to be served and be truly an effective deterrent to corruption.

David L. Balangue (davidlbalangue@yahoo.com.ph) chairs the Coalition Against Corruption. He is a former chair and managing partner of SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co.

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  • talagalangha

    Meron na daw pala pangalan ang matuwid na daan…Napoles Street daw…!

  • palakasantayo

    Putting these corrupts behind bars will not stop corruption… line them up and let the firing squad ends court trials will send the strongest message. Corruption will suddenly come to an abrupt halt from top to bottom.

  • Angelicus1

    Filipinos should be disgusted by the guilty politicians but also by their own complicity. They are guilty of merely talking and not taking proper action to stop this culture of corruption which as you recount dates back to the Marcoses (decades ago). It should infuriate everyone. The thievery is blatant and unashamed. The people tolerated it, gave excuses and looked the other way. This cannot be blamed on poverty or lacking means. This is due to lack of morality, regardless of religion. There is no honor when trust is broken. Thievery by politicians promote poverty and also loss of face. Trust on Filipinos has been the first casualty.

    • Eustaquio Joven

      Well said. I’m tired of people who keep on blaming the voters. What we do after leaving the polling places counts more than what we do there.

  • 33Sam

    THE CULTURE OF CORRUPTION GOES HIGHER THAN THE GOVERNMENT.

    ITS THE FOREIGN BANKSTER GLOBALIST-EUGENICISTS, WHO ARE THE ROLE MODELS.

    WHEN YOUR GOVERNMENT UNWITTINGLY COLLUDES WITH FOREIGN MAFIOSO PARADING AROUND AS J.P. MORGAN, GOLDMAN SACHS AND CITI CORP WHO MUSCLE THEIR WAY INTO THE COUNTRY, INTO THE TREASURY AND CENTRAL BANK VAULTS, IN EXCHANGE FOR NOT BLOCKING PHILIPPINE GOODS TO ENTER MARKETS LIKE THE U.S., THEN YOU OPEN YOUR COUNTRY FOR ALL MANNER OF CORRUPTION AS WHILE THESE BANKSTERS TAKE OUT $400 MILLION OF CAPITAL OUT OF YOUR COUNTRY, THEN WHAT IS THE REST OF THE ANTS IN STRATEGIC POSITIONS IN GOVERNMENT GOING TO FEEL LIKE DOING??

    http://business.inquirerDOTnet/131815/400m-in-foreign-capital-pulled-out-of-ph-in-june

    JP MORGAN FINED $920 MILLION FOR USING DERIVATIVES:
    http://www.bbc.coDOTuk/news/business-24159801

    BECAUSE CLINTON REPEALED GLASS-STEAGALL FOR HIS CRONIES, THIS IS WHAT THESE MAFIOSO BANKSTERS ARE DOING EVERYWHERE!!!

    BRAZIL, WISE TO THESE BANKSTERS TOLD THEM TO GO TO HELL EVEN AT THE EXPENSE OF HAVING THEIR LARGE ORANGE JUICE INDUSTRY BLOCKED FROM THE U.S. MARKET AS BRAZIL DID NOT WANT THE BANKER MAFIA TO BE TAKING CAPITAL OUT OF THEIR COUNTRY.

    ICELAND KICKED OUT THESE BANKSTERS AND WERE THREATENED BY THE U.K. AS ICELAND WAS TIRED OF HAVING BANKSTER DERIVATIVE DEBT TACKED ONTO THEIR NATIONAL DEBT.

    IN ADDITION THESE FOREIGN BANKSTERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT DREADFUL 12 % VAT THEY SUCKER PUNCHED THE BIR TO IMPLEMENT DESIGNED TO MAKE MONEY FOR THE BANKSTERS AND BANKRUPT THE COUNTRY.

    WHEN FILIPINO LEADERS HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THEMSELVES, THEY MAKE IT BAD FOR THE REST.

    FILIPINOS ARE THEIR OWN WORSE ENEMY.

    THE GOVERNMENT LEADERS ARE WHORES OPENING THEIR LEGS FOR THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR.

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