Our Contribution to Corruption in the Philippines

If there are ordinary people who will not allow to be bought for one day and who will ask and demand from politicians services worth the amount some politicians take out of public funds they are elected in office, then patronage politics would be totally eradicated.

It is so easy to pinpoint why governance in this country has been so crooked and corrupt for decades now- that is because of campaign financing during the election period which make politicians beholden to various interest groups and personalities. It is no secret that once a candidate is elected into office, the interest to be returned for campaign contributions made by several people will usually be double or even triple in the form of contracts and other suspicious and fraudulent transactions.

However, much as we would like to blame politicians and these interest groups/personalities for all the overspending during the elections which eventually leads to corruption, there would be no need for so much spending if there are no willing recipients or benefactors on the receiving end of all this money going around the economy.

It already started last January, where several local politicians have already started to employ the services of many unemployed for electoral purposes. They are asked to sweep the streets and many other public relations stunts to eventually become poll watchers, paid volunteers and part of the crowd during election sorties. In economics, we call this seasonal employment where individuals are hired because a need arises only within a specified period of time. Often, the seasonally employed used to be bystanders don’t usually care where all this money comes from, so long as they are able to meet ends and earn from the pockets of politicians.

But if you go way back to late last year, some national candidates have already started airing their own television ads, indirectly campaigning but already posturing the obvious in the eyes of the not so naïve. Of course, media stations have no complaint about this, because for every 30 second ad, they earn a clean P400,000. Message or sense aside, these media entities wouldn’t care for content so long as ads are paid in accordance to their practice of business.

Sooner or later, candidates will have crisp P50 and P100 bills on-hand once they start roaming in different barangays at the commencement of the formal campaign period. Some poor people would go nuts just to be able to shake the hand of these politicians with the hope that they get some cash and milk the pockets of these candidates.

Whether we like it or not, we have a direct and indirect contribution.

If there are willing volunteers who won’t take money from a politician because he believes this candidate is competent and qualified, candidates who are indeed qualified and competent won’t hesitate to file their candidacy.

If there are media stations who stay true to their word they are for clean and honest elections with the hope that the best leaders would be elected, why don’t they organize national for a so that everybody gets to have a chance to be heard so that there is a level playing field in terms of exposure among candidates.

If there are ordinary people who will not allow to be bought for one day and who will ask and demand from politicians services worth the amount some politicians take out of public funds they are elected in office, then patronage politics would be totally eradicated.

According to COMELEC rules, a candidate is allowed to spend only P5 per voter. We all know that COMELEC has proven itself as a failure in monitoring if this is followed, but what about us who are supposed to be the recipients? Because some benefit, they will all just let this pass. For some who don’t benefit, they just don’t simply care.

To me, whether you do things wrong or when you don’t do what’s right, you’re already doing a great disservice to your country. When you know fully well there is massive vote buying in your area and you remain silent about it, you are accountable to the impending corruption that will happen once that candidates is seated in power- same as when you get directly involved either as a buyer or someone on the receiving end of a bribe.

There should be no lesser evil when it comes to being straight in pursuit of reform. There should be no excuse or no silly explanation as to why you did it and why you didn’t do the right thing.

Through action and inaction, we are slowly killing what is left of our moral fiber as a Filipino citizenry and as a nation.

This title suggests our contribution to corruption- but this should be more. If we continue to be what we are, especially during elections, don’t expect another Jose Rizal in our lifetime, who will awaken again our nationalistic spirits to do the right thing.

Our contribution to Corruption in the Philippines may just eventually seal the fate of our nation to the doldrums of anarchy.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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