Mixed signals on corruption
“Talking tough and then merely slapping erring officials on the wrist dilute what would otherwise be a strong anti-corruption message.”
Sick Earth-Plague Day 334
But these are just two agencies out of the universe of the entire government. We can think of numerous others: Drugs through Customs, the facilitation of entry of Chinese workers, white sand on Manila Bay. And a long list of allegations, big and small.
Filipinos have been living with corruption for the longest time. We have learned to bear the painful knowledge that many of our officials are cheating us out of our hard-earned money, and that only very few of them, if at all, would go to jail for their misdeeds. Our tolerant and forgiving nature is part of the reason the problem has persisted.It is time to be angrier. Noisier. More unforgiving.Alas, the President’s order will not be enough. The crooks in government know too well that all they have to do when they find themselves in the spotlight is to wait out the media cycle until the public finds something else to be angry about.Some of the accused, instead of acting honorably, simply wait to be appointed to yet another government post. The really special ones enjoy unlimited support and trust, even defense and praise, from the powers-that-be.All these acts dilute the Executive’s tough stance on corruption, and all the Herculean effort that Secretary Guevarra’s task force might make to comply with the order. That, too, would have been only the beginning, since the prosecution of the accused before the appropriate courts would be another challenge in itself. Multiply this with the number of individuals and cases that would be tried.Eradicating corruption seems like an impossible job at this point. But if the President is clear and consistent in his message, and practices zero tolerance of the accused regardless of their political affiliation, then perhaps in a few years we could make a dent on the problem. And then maybe the feat would not appear as unachievable as it does now.
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