Corruption perceptions index & the coming elections
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - February 26, 2018 - 12:00am

The “Build, Build, Build” initiative of President Duterte has slowly gained traction these days.  For one, with some friends, we visited the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Sur two weeks ago and saw with our naked eyes the infrastructures that had been commenced.  Indeed, so far, President Duterte made good his promise.

However, at the local level, things could be different. As we all know two important elections will soon be held. These are the Barangay and mid-term elections. Therefore, expect current officials and the aspiring Barangay, as well as, municipal/city/provincial/congressional candidates to try to preserve their energy and money for both short and long (which could be both hard) political battle ahead. Also, expect that alliances will either be shifting or consolidating. Further, expect animosities to escalate and politicians’ attitudes toward the voting public to aesthetically improve.

Indeed, time and again, when roads are still filled with potholes and politicians seem not to care, you should know they don’t need anything from you. When faced with compelling necessities and where the much needed answers are undeniably in the politicians’ table and they seem to be scantily available, you should know that you are momentarily negligible. On the other hand, when a known snooty tend to be accommodating and a condemned tightfisted suddenly becomes so generous, you might entertain the idea that the world never runs out of miracles. But truth to tell, more likely, the man is into something else.

The fact is, all style-changing approaches are so compelling for the men and women who had been in it or are yet to squeeze themselves curiously into a messy world of entertainment we call politics, or distinctively, our brand of politics. A kind of politics that is totally dirty from beginning to end. This is a kind of politics where every coveted position has a price tag.        Therefore, anyone who can afford gets it.  Obviously, it is a kind of politics where the politicians’ willingness to dangle billions or millions is the main determinant.  Consequently, as they part with it, they shall be equally determined to get it back, of course, with profits.

But how are returns assured?  There are countless of ways but, absolutely, not from their salaries. Certainly, they can’t live with salaries alone. More often, they milk or exploit on projects. Unfortunately, such and other countless of ways are the primary reasons of our being undisputedly at the bottom of every corruption survey.

The annual Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), for instance, can attest to this. TI’s corruption surveys “draw on assessments and opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. These surveys and assessments include questions related to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and the effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts”.

Sadly, despite President Duterte’s continuing efforts and that of PNoy’s to address the country’s worsening graft and corruption incidences, we fell ten notches down to 111th out of 180 countries and territories surveyed in 2017. Remember, we were no. 101st out of 176 countries and territories surveyed in 2016. This simply means that we are on a downward spiral as we used be 95th out of the 168 countries and territories surveyed in 2015 and we were already among the upper 50% of the 175 countries included in the CPI survey in 2014 at 85th place.  Not only that, we reduced our score from 35 in 2016 to 34 in 2017.

If there is any consolation, it is on the fact that in some years before 2014, we’ve been cellar dwellers.  In 2010, we were 134th.  In the 2011 survey (which included 183 countries) we were ranked 129th.

Worse, with some Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations recently ignored by some equally corrupt politicians in power, it seems that corruption would still persist. As we all know, even some of the mayoral and gubernatorial hopefuls (potential candidates in Cebu included) are either perceived by the public or are regarded by the Ombudsman to be corrupt.

Such is the sad reality of our kind of politics. A kind of politics that is mainly money-driven. Where ordinary men from nowhere initially presented themselves to the people for service and became powerful once elected. Or men who are already successful businessmen in their own right and run either to protect their interests or widen them.

Clearly, therefore, corruption has now become a habit. So that, we have to deal squarely with these crooks by not electing them into office. Otherwise, with these unscrupulous politicians at the helm, coupled with a rotten system that these men and women continue to comfortably adhere, we shall soon see this habit becoming the country’s norm.

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