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Opinion

The peons of graft and corruption

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide -

Public opinion, save in very rare cases, is not instantaneous. It uses many vehicles in its formulation like espousals for justice coming from the less privileged or the cry a more moderate government policy as a cause of the industrialists. More importantly, it takes time to shape up, sometimes too long a time that when it finally assumes form and substance, it already has, to a certain extent, become stale and passé so that the very incident out of which it is supposed to have grown is no longer existent.

There is public opinion that graft and corruption is present in most, if not all, bureaus of our government. Anywhere one looks, he seems to come face to face with this scourge in multi dimensions. Everyone has a word or two, from either vicarious or personal encounter, on corrupt men and women in the service. Yet, sadly, no one comes forward with a written charge unless another person, more often than not, a public functionary, steps heavily on his own badly beaten toes.

If we were to listen to diverse accounts of corruption, we could discern it as having evolved from even the most petty of situations. How else do we characterize the act of a head of an office who orders for a volume of office supplies bigger than necessary because he intends to bring home some for his children’s use? It is corruption and this story is most common, when the chief gets a percentage in the amount of the budgetary outlay. This latter case is dubbed euphemistically as the standard operating procedure, (SOP), although it is hardly a standard.

For quite sometime, our people have been bombarded with tales of graft and corruption of the SOP kind. Yet, instead of being embarrassed, or better still, incensed, we have come accept it as a part of our processes. Oh My God! It is reported that our officials do not anymore wait for under the table offers, they demand them. We, the transacting public, fearing that a contract could go to another person should we not dance to the music, literally, close our eyes and simply give what is asked. Of course, as a necessary business proposition, we pad the cost. So, our government ends up paying for so much for something that could have cost a little less.

Now, what kind of losses do we suffer from acts of graft and corruption? In a number of surveys, the percentage of losses arising from the corrupt ways of officials has had been pegged at a low of fifteen percent to a high of forty per cent. We have come to accept that for every one hundred peso infrastructure project, its real value is only about sixty pesos because, the forty pesos goes to the pockets of the corrupt.

It is this kind of corruption that we have been hearing. Let us then apply this thinking to the decorative lampposts, now subject to administrative and judicial scrutiny. For this purpose, we work up, for comparison, the amount paid by a nearby city to a similar undertaking which reports had it to be in the vicinity of P31,000.

The reported P31,000 paid for each installed lamp post, I assume, also absorbed the SOP. Thus, the real cost could possibly be only something like P25,000. How then do we range the cost of the decorative lamp posts put up in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapulapu? Quick calculations given me by a well meaning friend said that the marked up price of these gadgets amounted to a whooping and incredible 2,500 to 3,000 per cent.

Here is my beef. I do not believe that local officials, perceived by public opinion to be accustomed to the SOP 15 to 40% tier, would suddenly become so greedy as to up their take in so brief a span of time. It is, to me, unbelievable. This rate of greed is beyond their ken that they can only be peons of corrupt officers. The incredible mark up could not have come from them. It must have been authorized by officers occupying positions higher than those who are satisfied by the usual SOP. Who these people are must be the real objective of earnest investigators.

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Email:    [email protected]

CEBU

CORRUPTION

MANDAUE AND LAPULAPU

OH MY GOD

PUBLIC

SOP

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