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“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for a man’s greed,” as said by Mahatma Gandhi. This statement explains that a man’s needs in life can be deemed to be enough in which one is already contented with what they possess or have. On the other hand, the statement explains that there is no boundary or extent in a human being’s greed due to discontentment in what they have in their life, and in some cases jealousy that aroused from an individual comparing themself to those around them. Greed in a man may also be present because of the concept of human beings being self-centered by nature. This self-centeredness can lead one to have the urge to want things more–like power, money, fame, and food–all to themselves. Corruption is like an apple that politicians like to chew on to benefit themselves and the more they consume it, the more greed and evil corrupts them. It can be seen that people in society and the government officials are slowly developing this excessive want for things which then leads the country to cases of graft and corruption that continues to be prevalent.
The most famous case of corruption in the country was the “Pork Barrel Scam” which involved a businesswoman named Janet Napoles with numerous politicians accused of stealing $229 million worth of Philippine taxpayer money. This scheme was done by creating fake non-governmental organizations where money would enter and they her and accomplices earned the $229 million. Napoles’ former associate was the whistleblower and testified in a public hearing that Janet Napoles received so much cash that she would stash it in her own bathtub. Before she was arrested, Napoles denied that she was involved in the scheme and said that her fortune came from her family’s coal mining business in Indonesia. Napoles then said that she had distributed the funds to 120 current and former lawmakers. Just last February 2018, the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) published a survey that revealed the Philippines was placed 111th out of 180 countries being having a score of 34 out of 100 with 0 being the most corrupt and 100 being cleanest. The Philippines was also considered one of the most corrupt countries in the Asia Pacific. This may be because of the multiple varieties of corruption that occurs in the country. Tax evasion is done by private sectors and businesses that refuse or underpay their taxes. Ghost projects or payrolls made by government officials are financed by the government with non-existent workers or projects. Nepotism in the government makes higher officials give more allowance to their relatives. Due to the policemen’s low salary, they are vulnerable to corruption as they press charges then accept money in exchange for not reporting a person who didn’t abide by the law. These examples show how much corruption happens around us without us even being aware of it.
In 1989, a famous saying circulated in the public which said that corrupt government officials are “a greater threat to the country compared to the communist guerrilla” or in recent times, are called a terrorist group by President Duterte. A report by Global Financial Integrity was released last 2014 and showed that the Philippines lost about $410. 5 billion between 1960 and 2011 which in current exchange rates, is about P19. 34 trillion (exclusive of inflation rates). That P19. 34 trillion could have been spent on the more pressing concerns of our country like education, labor, infrastructure, and etc. but instead, it was lost to financial gain of corrupt government officials and workers. In Southeast Asia, Philippines is ranked 5th out of 10 countries to be the most corrupt nation. This ranking actually determine how attractive our country is to foreign investors, and without these investors, the Philippines may not be able to expand their market due to lack of funds for salaries for workers, water, food, and infrastructure. All the Filipinos, as citizens, have been demanding transparency in the government so that we are knowledgeable about their activities, especially when handling the Philippines’ budget. In making this information known, the government should make use of communication as we are dialogical beings. Communication is the medium how our messages and ideas can be delivered and made known to others. Without this, we would not be able to share our ideas and even understand others. Last July 2016, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order No. 02, also known as the Freedom of Information (FOI) Program, which mandates all government offices (e. g. departments, bureaus, and government-owned corporations) under the executive branch to publicly release information or documents about their works.
Government officials are also required to submit a Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for the public eye to see. With this implementation, Filipinos believe that they will be able to trust their government and make better decisions on the leaders they will choose in the elections, basing on how the politician served the country with honesty. As a young individual in society, we can already make a difference as we face corruption by creating awareness amongst those around us, especially to the people that are unknowledgeable of this issue, through creating posters or sharing ideas in forums online to make use of the social media we have today. We can also create youth groups that will help in spreading this awareness and in empowering each individual in the community that our ideas matter. A great pitch would be finding a medium that citizens can use to communicate to the government their ideas on how corruption can be eradicated or at least, prevented. Manuel Quezon once said that he would “rather have a country run like hell by Filipinos than a country run like heaven by the Americans. ” In this case, we’ve been living in hell far too long.
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