Economy expands, corruption worsens
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - February 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Certainly, in every election year, the economy expands. That’s a no-brainer.  Whether coming from legitimate or illegitimate sources, money freely flows. These are recklessly released for the candidates’ vote-gathering activities. 

For one, they spend millions for their visibility initiatives (mainstream media or social media).  More than that, wads of bills are also spent for their vote-buying efforts.  In turn, recipients (voters) use these sums of money to purchase goods and services, thus, the multiplier effect. 

With these activities plus the usually increased government spending (local and national) during election year for infrastructures, the economy expands.

Yes, it is true that election-related activities propel the economy.  So tempting that we might even entertain the idea of having an election every year.  However, the truth is, in the kind of election that we have, the downside is horrible.

Undeniably, our kind of politics is totally dirty from the beginning to end. The battle-tested but dirty approaches are just 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.  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 cannot 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 still remain in the bottom-half among countries and territories surveyed. 

For instance, in the recently released corruption survey (2018), we placed 99th among 180.  While it is true that we improved our rankings from last year’s (2017) 111th out of 180 countries and territories surveyed, we only scored 36 or just two points better than last year’s 34.  Simply put, we didn’t improved that much, other countries simply worsened.

Also, we may take some comforts in the fact that we improved from last year’s 111th place. However, we must remember that we were no. 101st out of 176 countries and territories surveyed in 2016.  Moreover, we used to be 95th out of 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.

If there is any consolation, it is on the fact that in some years before 2014, we’ve been among the 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 (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 face this horrible situation squarely by not electing these crooks 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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