Corruption and the Pinoy

In two international corruption surveys, the Philippines scored poorly compared to previous years. Accordingly, as against other Asian nations, the Philippines is only less corrupt than Cambodia and Indonesia and corruption does not only happen in government, it also happens in the private sector. A lot of these has to do with the Pinoy‘s (Filipino’s) tolerance to corruption. It’s sickening.

While the Pinoy would ordinarily frown upon corruption, he would succumb to it given the chance. At first he would start an honest man but circumstances around him would push him to the dark side of the force. There is no positive side to it but the thought of a comfortable way of life seems to outweigh righteousness.

It seems very hard to be honest, especially when you are in government. When a public servant comes into office, he is full of virtues that would at first repel corrupt temptations. But when he sees that everyone is doing it, and nothing bad happens to them or to their careers, and in fact they personally prosper, he joins the chorus of corruption. The glee club of dishonest government employees.

Corruption in government is not the sole avenue of government officials. There are these passive and active corruption Pinoy participants. It’s either they tolerate their government officials to commit corruption, thereby encouraging them, or they are the corrupters themselves.

Aside from active and passive participation, corruption also happens among private parties.

A Pinoy would often see or have personal knowledge of a government official being corrupt or engaged in corrupt activities. He can only sigh. His inability to do anything about what he sees or knows about is mostly because of his hopelessness in the state of honesty in his government. His thought goes, “I can do nothing about it”. He does not trust his government anymore. And when he does something about it, he becomes isolated. He starts a crusade only to destroy his life and those of his family.

Punishing the corrupt is not a way in this part of Asia. Justice just takes comfort in prosecuting the small fry. The big ones who really and literally siphon  the kaban (treasury) usually end up extremely wealthy, depriving a mass of hungry and impoverished citizens of their rightful share of social wealth. The corrupt cannot punish the corrupt. The big ones seem to have inexhaustible gold mine to finance a behemoth of a legal defense. The results need no telling.

It still has to be seen if this anti-corruption government of Pnoy (Pres. Aquino III) will deliver. They have a lot to fix and it is not sure if they are capable. Already many months in office, this government only have time to deny information that its President does not play PSP. Pordios!

Citizens are already asking for results. They are getting impatient. Possibly, that is why the SWS net satisfaction rating of the Aquino administration dipped to 46% in the first part of March from a comfortable 64% from the last quarter. This administration is lounging on a perceived all-out support from the people. As it may be, since they are still popular, they are in no hurry. The President is not working hard enough. And for an administration who’s very conscious of pogi points (popularity), this should be a cause of great concern.

The Pinoy also needs to be blamed for corruption in his country. It is time to start making citizens accountable for their own doing.

Rethinking Labor Export Policy

In the past months, the Philippines experienced challenging international occurrences with local implications. Egypt took to the streets their long-held pains about President Hosni Mubarak‘s government. Libya did something similar against Col. Muammar Gaddafi  albeit with a different result. Taiwan got tough with the Philippine government‘s decision of deporting fourteen Chinese or Taiwanese, depending on whom you ask, to mainland China thus suspending visa-free privileges for Filipinos with Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., U.S. and Schengen Area visas and imposing stricter policies in the acceptance of Filipino workers.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia halted acceptance of Filipino Household Service Workers as a protest against  a “reform package” the Philippines instituted to better the lot of HSWs abroad. China executed three Filipino drug mules despite a love offering of 14 fraud criminals. Japan got hit with a triple super combo.

Then just days ago, the Philippine Government urged some 17,000 Filipinos in Syria to leave the country amid escalating hostilities.

The above events all had one common thread for the Philippines- Overseas Filipino Workers.

With very little resources ready for consumption, the Philippines was caught unawares in the desperate effort of protecting its best export- people. This sentence may also be stated to read- …in the desperate effort of protecting its top overseas investment- labor. With US$18.7 billion inward remittance in 2010, this remains to be a bright spot in Philippine economy. However, recent events present a different insight to this labor export policy.

The Philippine economy depends so much on OFW remittances. Although the government, through the Department of Budget and Management announced the sufficiency of funds to support distressed OFWs, repatriating and supporting Filipinos abroad will never be enough. The PhP13 billion OFW trust fund will never be enough. The DFA Assistance to Nationals fund of PhP187.8 million will never be enough. Notwithstanding such funds, Filipinos abroad will still suffer. Filipinos abroad will still get caught in the crossfire. They will still be executed, killed. It is too often wished that they may never come home in boxes.

There must be a way to keep Filipinos in their homeland. The Philippines must find a way to keep her nationals out of harm’s way. Because, in the first place, they should have never left their country. It was inadequacy that pushed them away. Such inadequacy must be addressed. Hopefully sooner, not later. The moment OFWs suffer, the whole country suffers with them.

Filipinos are united by OFWs. They are a soft spot in every Filipino’s heart. It is time to start bringing them home. But how?

Banyan, in an article for The Economist wrote, ” So, remittances will continue to be the chief bright spot for the Philippines, whose domestic economic affairs are coloured by corruption, sloth and poor governance. Still, actively exporting your best and brightest is hardly the best long-term policy.” University of the Philippines Economics Professor Ernesto M. Pernia is of the opinion that the country is better off strengthening its domestic economy to make employment abroad merely an option and no longer a necessity. He suggests that the government should design policies to spur economic growth rather than simply relying on remittances.

In the meantime, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Chief, Atty. Carlos Cao Jr. will be very busy defending a US$400 HSW minimum monthly salary before the Saudis, who do not think that our workers’ services are worth that much. Pordios!