A Reflection Paper on Rulemakers by Sheila Coronel
Evangelista, Mariel S. CITIGOV When you ask a Filipino to describe the people that were elected or to describe who are currently running the office or at least ask a Filipino a fearless forecast on how the next government officials will be like, he can say something as short and straightforward as this: It is not a representative of the typical Filipino. So what I mean by a typical Filipino, is a person who is not member of a political family or at least a connection, a person that graduated college with no credentials at all, a person that goes to work every day by commuting, using PUVs and PUJs earning minimum wage.
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And if one day that “typical Filipino” wakes up, realizing that he wants to run for the presidential elections do you think that he can stand a chance of winning when all of his competitors constitutes the elites? If I were him, I would not. They have a degree in law, his net worth is in the P10 million range, He has a Porsche, His wife is the hottest actress in the country today and he came from a political family, that everyone talks about. Although during elections, this attributes would be understated but still this makes sense.
These attributes would actually help them win legislative positions. 1946 allowed us to create a democratic republic, The Republic of the Philippines. A few decade of American rule was supposed to prepare us for democracy. Democracy in the Philippines is something that benefits only a few families. When the Americans claim that they have prepared the Philippines for Democracy, they were actually preparing the elites. Our first encounter with the elections, the poor was excluded. Only those with wealth and property were allowed to vote. Our first batch of political leaders is the wealthy family.
Things are supposed to have drastic and evident change in our country after EDSA 1 but then nothing much has changed. That’s why EDSA is not exactly a revolution. It was a mere change of president. The political and economic power lies to those people who controlled our legislature, people who controlled the politics within the country and their families. Democracy for me is held by relatively small number of families whose wealth and power are derived from the ownership of land. Our first batch of political leaders and big business leaders are actually big landlords. Some famous “landlords” are the Cojuancos with Hacienda Luicita.
We have the Lopez in Negros Occidental and the Florendos and Ayalas in Mindanao. Being rich is not necessarily mean that you are an elite. You have to posses’ economic power that would make you shape the lives of other people. Age is also a very crucial point in the Congress. From 1946 to 2001, only 13% of the congress has an age range of 25-35. The rest of the 87% is old already. Those elected 20 years ago are now aging. You can see how young our legislators are in this part of the rulemakers and I tried to google how they look now and I of course, they now look older.
Legislators tend to age in office because the turnover rate is slow, even if term limits helped speed it up. However, the same old trend happens: when the legislators completed three terms, they relinquish their posts to their sons and daughters. Probably I can walk from Andrew to the South Gate and I can come across someone that has already a place in the congress as early as now. As professor Manhit once said to the class, he might be the student who stays at the back of the class, recites once in a blue moon, graduates on time and poof! There he is in the congress in no time.
How about those running for the freshmen elections, the University Student Government, do they have a future of getting into the office? I think not. 90% of those in the office right now were never a student leader when they are young. It came on my mind that our leaders in the university could be the possible future leaders of this country. Of that 90% our president is included. He was not the topnotcher in his Alma Maters and never passed a law but look at him now. Erap and FPJ were good actors and the next thing you knew, they are now running for the office.
Win or lose, they still manage to be on the spotlight, getting more attention than those candidates that isn’t a part or at least a connection to the political families and mass media. This has become a trend and we still cannot see the end of it. Now regardless of whether you came from a political family, you are a celebrity or not, I guess we should put more young legislators in the congress. They are more idealistic and more open to new ideas. “Kabataan” are called the “pag-asa ng bayan” for a reason and that is to strive for an improved Philippines, especially when everyone of our generation is now on the office.
With the birth rate in the Philippines, generations are never ending. It is now up to the prior generations on how to shape the future leaders. Each generation represents hope for the Philippines. Male domination is also a factor in the government up to now. Politics is a profession like any other. Its requisites, like that of any other profession, include education, training and experience. Example of training is by running in a classroom election and throughout your term as the Class President, you eventually learn and experience what it to lead people is.
However, like what I just said in the previous paragraphs, majority of the congress was not a leader when they were young because those who came from political families have a bigger chance of getting into the position. Take political science, for instance and then you learn more about the Government. Take the subject Citizenship and Governance and have an idea on how we can be involved with the governance in the Philippines. However a degree in Political Science, Journalism or Pre- Medicine is not that enough to be able to be competitive when running in the elections.
A degree in law or medicine would make an normal person amazed. This are plus factors in a person. But come to think of it, who gets to study law and medicine? Those who belonged in a family of moderate wealth or extensive wealth. Still, whatever we say, Law is really necessary part of politics. Lawyers will continue to be a dominant presence in the legislature. Those who want to succeed in Politics therefore aim to satisfy at least all those requisites. Like any other professions, early exposure in life to the chosen field of endeavour is an advantage.
We actually studied this in our Introduction to Psychology class, in a Psychodynamic perspective, early childhood experiences and exposures shape the most of a person- This is where political families have an edge. Once the Political office in the Philippines has always been hierarchical but then the upheavals caused by martial law disrupted this flow. It is just so sad that it stopped because this political ladder system which I find very efficient and would make the future presidents or senators more ready when they are elected in the office.
Aspiring politicians went up the political ladder from local to national office, from the house to the Senate, and from the Senate to the presidency. A good example is Obama who won his choice of hometown which is Chicago and worked his way to be a state legislator. Became a provincial board and eventually ran to become the USA’s first black president. In the table provided in the Rulemakers, the percent of those under inheriting office or those with parents in the public office which is 31% in year 2001. As we all know now political families have an edge because they can mobilize ocal patronage and political networks for their electoral forays. Another trend that I noticed when it comes to entering the Senate is how celebrities from the media and the movies to win hands down in national races even if they don’t have a base in their districts. Every election, more and more TV personalities enter the government. Media right is also very particular of those celebrities running for office. I noticed that they focus more and interview them and ask them how it is like running for the elections. As the mass media dominates our country, they make their viewers more aware of this celebrity’s platforms and plans.
It is kind of like a free advertisement that they were able to make people aware that they are running for the elections even without those annoying jingles the aspiring candidates pay for to be televised every commercial break. In the Philippines, politics has become more or less a popularity contest over the years. We also have this divisive and fractious politics, an intra elite squabble. In elections, candidates’ aim is not to bring the best out of him to prove his worth to the public but it is to simply prevail over their opponents.
What is important for them is that they beat the slogans of each of their opponent and not focusing on the platforms they would implement if they are elected in the office. I just want to share this because I find it relevant to how elections have become popularity based. It shows the reaction of the Filipinos in a funny way. It was a bunch of Facebook Fan Page that was created in the midst of the presidential campaigns of the 2010 elections. It goes like: “Gumastos ng milyon- milyon si Many Villar para patunayang mahirap siya. ” “Kung mahirap si Manny Villar, so hampas lupa tayong lahat? and “Sige Manny Villar, ikaw na ang mahirap. ” Those fan pages gained 200, 000 plus likes and I was one of those Facebook users that find these statements amusing and true. Who would even spend P325 million for his campaign just to prove he is poor? I am one of the Facebook users that were aware of this irony. I was also one of the million Filipinos that sang “Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura” whenever it is played on the TV or radio. I am sure that Manny Villar succeeded in one thing; he made himself known to all of the Filipinos, a milestone to any of the candidate.
I have read in the article a statement that the Filipinos would most probably elect someone who is pro- poor and someone that is not corrupt. Then we have to put it this way: he is pro- poor but he is corrupt. The problem is that he became too popular and aggressive to his competitors. That’s why from the hospital his brother was confined to the C5 issue was then exposed to the public. And then Filipinos chose the less corrupt. Noynoy won and the rest is history. This year was the first time I wasn’t able to watch the SONA because we have classes on that day. Going home from school, I pass by Commonwealth Avenue.
With the rallies and stuff, I was able to get a glimpse of how chaotic the SONA is. Along with the big crowd with the big flags that are walking along the highway, the FX I was riding on came close to big SUVs and Mercedes Benzes. I found myself staring on those cars and I thought of, what a waste of money. I then realized that the FX I am on was beside the car of an unfamiliar politician, on the way to Batasan, judging with the Barong Tagalog that is hangered by the window of his shiny , expensive car. And as I got home, the showbiz news talks about the best dressed politicians.
By the looks of their gowns and LV bags, I can say those are expensive, and I thought of, what a waste of money, again. Politics continues to be a favourable ladder which those already favoured by established family name, wealth, education, and a wide circle of political friends among the nation’s elite are expected to ascent. The tables in the rule makers show how distinct those who are in the office based on their social classes. No one from the lower class made it through the Senate. Relative to this, funny how this certain politician was appointed in the office because he “stands” for the security guards.
Ask the guard of De La Salle and they would not have any idea on who he is because he was never a security guard in his entire life! Many politicians tend to claim that they stand for the marginalized sector of this country. But are they part of those? None of the senators came from them. They might understand the condition and express empathy and help them and stuff but because they are using this sectors as an excuse to be in the office and do his real intentions. I was surprised by how large the figures of how much are the net worth of the 12 wealthiest representatives.
They get richer and richer with their respective businesses, real estates, services, piggeries, constructions, drugstores and etc. Maybe, the fact that they are in the office has an advantage for their business. They say something but meant another. Example is Villiar’s C5 project and we all know what happened next. Sometimes their projects is more beneficial to their businesses rather to the citizens. I only know one person who didn’t get rich because of staying in the office, and that is Mr. Manhit. They don’t even go to office regularly and yet they get the money that they want.
The Senate has always been the more elite and more exclusive house. Those in the senate are far richer and older than those in the congress. Their wealth came from their respective business though there are 16% that did not express any business interest. As discussed earlier with the political ladder, about less than 20% of the 12th senate are former representatives. Maybe that 20% is made up of people from political families, as usual. Those who are elected directly to that privileged body without any experience in public office no longer come from big business but tinsletown.
They are celebrities who draw their stature from the media, the movies or even sports like Manny Pacquiao. Media power would always dominate. Before 1986, all Philippine presidents came from the Senate, the training ground for national political leadership. It is like a stepping stone to the presidency. The old political families, however, are not as strong in the senate as they are in the house. Celebrities and military and police officers have emerged as alternatives to traditional politicians. They are either popular or in tune with the public.
The “celebritification” of the Senate lowers the bar of entry that is once only open for the rich, the politically experienced and the intellectually brilliant. A legislative seat has traditionally provided for political families protection for their businesses and access to a wealth of privileges like tax exemptions, bank loans, state subsidies, franchises, concessions and licenses. The power to make laws has been used by representatives for their personal or family gain. Landlords used their legislative powers to protect their landholdings. I liked the title of this part which is, Politics as Business.
Business interests of representative influence their legislation. I guess the statement “Trabaho lang, walang personalan” was never understood by the Senate. The laws and projects they are implementing has always something to do for their personal and family gain. Chapter 2 opens with Kris Aquino. She is as famous as the current president and she is in the limelight anyone could just imagine. She has 100 years of politics behind her and she has 100+ advertisements. Politics has been in her blood, which is very dominant and strong, as strong as La Salle’s dominance in its 100 years.
Almost everyone on her family tree has been and currently a part of the politics. Also, she played a big part on how PNoy won by hands down. We buy a certain brand of corned beef because she endorsed it and then we vote our president for the next six years because she endorsed it too. Noynoy worked hard to prove himself for so many years and then here goes our president who proved himself within a year with the slogan of, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and then his commercial where Noynoy Aquino’s face would show up, followed by Cory Aquino and then his face.
Obama was voted because he proved himself deserving of the position. PNoy was voted because we nearly had no choice but to vote someone that is most probably not corrupt. Obama came from nowhere, PNoy came from a famous political family. Philippine legislators constitute a select and exclusive segment of society. They are richer, older, better educated, and better connected than the rest of us. The great majority of them are also part of families whose members have been in public office for two or more generations. Those who make laws for the country are therefore hardly representative of its citizens.
This book also shows how lawmakers have employed their powers to further enrich themselves and entrench their families in power. The powers to make laws, to conduct legislative inquiries, to examine the national budget, and to vet presidential appointments have been used by legislators to get benefits for themselves, their allies, and their kin. The organizing principle of legislative life is the struggle for spoils. Congress as a body is obsessed with what individual legislators can wangle for themselves and their constituents. Rarely do long-term national interests and developmental goals matter.
Thus, Congress has tended to spend more on itself, even while the rest of government tightened its belt. The spending on pork-barrel projects has increased dramatically through the years, as legislators used government funds to subsidize the patronage network that they need in order to court favor and win votes in their districts. Congress is a notoriously unaccountable institution. Even as it is quick to investigate the shortcomings of other branches of government, it has refused to wash its own dirty line. Accounting and auditing rules are honored more in the breach.
Through the years, legislators have awarded themselves privileges – for travel, for district expenses, and for other perks – that they would never have allowed in other agencies of government. The entry of reformist and progressive-minded legislators, especially with the introduction of party-list representation, provides some hope. These new representatives are motivated by causes, rather than self-interest. Although they are still treated as second-class lawmakers, they at least have one foot in a body that has been resistant to change. It has therefore been said that the strength of the family is a reflection of the weakness of the state.
The families that dominate politics comes as no shock. After all, families control big business as well. A good number of the country’s top 1,000 corporations are family owned, the richest Filipinos are the owners of the top corporations like Ayala, Gokongwei, Sy, Lopez. In addition, family- controlled firms account for two thirds of the market capitalization of the companies that make- up the Philippine Composite Index of the Philippine Stock Exchange. The family is an effective mechanism for making and passing on wealth. Inheritance laws bolster family’s standing.
The fact that assets- property, shares, cash can be passed on from one generation to the next makes the family ideal for capital accumulation. The family is both training ground and transmitter of values. Children are introduced to a network of business contacts as they are growing up. Many work in family-owned companies from a early age and get to see the workings of business firsthand. The chapter also stressed about the importance of having political parties, that it plays a very crucial role to the political system. Political system can be most efficient when transformed into public institutions.
It can be attained by promoting outward accountability or by making it more program oriented. Moreover, reforms should promote party loyalty and discipline. The Santugon and Tapat here in De La Salle is one good example. They are far more loyal than those of the government. One day Mar Roxas was here and the next day, he was on the other side of the wall. If Accountability and Transparency of these political parties should be institutionalized, eventually it would become the embodiment of public trust and order to have trust to someone, it has to start with loyalty.
The problem with the political parties here in the Philippines is that it is weak. There are so many political butterflies in the government or what they call “balimbing”. The candidates choose what political party they would want to be in by basing their decisions on how popular a political party is instead of looking on its principle. Political parties is the breeding ground of the future presidents and in choosing parties, it should be crucial and objective in deciding on which to join. Some examples of this political parties are Aksyon, KBL, LDP, Lakas- Christian Muslim Democrats, LP and NPC.
Political parties are important in a democracy. Political parties are the best to create a venue by which political leaders develop. If I didn’t study in De La Salle, I may not know how political parties play an important role in the entire campaign of a candidate. Students are very loyal to the party they are supporting. Aside from the Rulemakers and our CITIGOV, I learned a lot from Tapat and Santugon on how crucial political parties are. Political parties are suppose to inspire the young people to be involved in political processes.
Political families are very much a product of the political economy and geography of their areas. In many instances, clans like the Singsons armed themselves in order to wrest control of a political bailiwick and to preserve their dominance. Provincial families are forced to engage in systemic political violence either as agents or opponents. Provincial politics involves a zero- sum struggle for hegemony over an electoral or commercial territory that encourages organized violence. Violence, therefore, is not a requisite for electoral success or the longevity of families.
But even in areas where control over the local violence, the fiercest warlords did not govern through sheer terror alone. They were also beneficent patrons and paternalistic figures who were able to inspire both fear and reverence among their followers. For all their arrogance and bluster, families know that political outcomes are not always predictable. Power may come from the barrel of a gun, but those who wield the gun are not secure for too long. Land reform (in its broadest sense) could not only make the Philippines richer but it could also make it safer.
Foreign visitors like myself enjoy going to the Philippines because it is a pleasant country and the people are friendly–providing the visitor stays away from certain areas (and particularly parts of the south). The Philippines is, some might argue, the country with Asia’s longest running war. Some Muslims claim they have never accepted Spanish rule four hundred years ago or American rule a century ago and now they oppose Manila’s rule. The fighting is based in the south, around the major island of Mindanao. The ountry’s predominantly Muslim provinces are all in the south. They have the country’s lowest literacy rates and lowest life expectancy. Islamic violence is linked to the violence in the neighbouring countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. Islamic guerrilla groups move back and forth throughout the islands, exploiting the advantages of geography. The conflict region containing the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia area has many thousands of islands (the Philippines overall has a total of about 7,000 islands alone).
The extensive maritime borders of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia make it virtually impossible to stop the movement of terrorists from one island to another. These countries all have the same type of long and open maritime borders. People sail from one island to another, or from one country to another. Travellers do not carry passports and their arrival and departure are not registered. Much of the travel is in the course of work but terrorists can also make the journey. The routes have been used for centuries and are well known to local families. They are a traditional way of life.
Weapons, terrorist finance and explosives also make the journeys. The heavily indented coastlines, fertile and heavily forested jungles, isolated self-reliant villages all make the southern islands ideal for the terrorists. They are a nightmare for security forces to penetrate and monitor. There are now improved coast-watch systems being provided by the US and Australia in their ‘war on terror’ but I doubt that they will be completely effective in stopping the terrorist groups. Ironically, the Philippines could do with more foreign investment and foreign tourists but they are somewhat deterred by the threat of terrorism.
Meanwhile poverty feeds resentment and helps breed terrorism. Yao Souchou of the University of Sydney has argued that the separatist movements in countries like the Philippines ‘show with almost tragic predictability the realities of massive poverty and enduring neglect by the central authority. In this context, religion is simply the most radical expression of the unresolved social and economic grievances. Islamic extremism flames the political ambitions and feeds the fantasy of a separate homeland’. Besides the Islamic problem mainly in the south, there is an overall culture of violence.
Not all the politically-motivated violence is conducted in the south. A recent Amnesty International report has identified the widespread culture of violence. The Uniting Church in Australia has recently issued a report on the violence against church workers, assisting poor people. The Philippines used to have one of Asia’s freest and most robust mass media. Now the journalists are being targeted to silence them. In August 2004, thirteen journalists were killed in one month alone. None of the killers were brought to justice.
It is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists–statistically on a par with Iraq. The president has offered rewards leading to the arrest of killers but ‘to date there have been no takers–because apparently squealers live very short lives in the Philippines’. A non-political reason for killing journalists is that they tried to cover the corruption in the everyday life of the country. The country is seen as one of the world’s most corrupt by the Berlin-based non-governmental organization Transparency International. There is, for example, a lack of transparency in financial dealings.
The playwright Isagani Cruz has said that ‘I cannot write against big business interests because if I do I will never get published by any media organization; media being owned solely by big business interests’. The high level of corruption deters potential businesses from starting up. There are seven M’s of dynasty building that summarizes how political families perpetuate themselves in power namely, Money, Machine, Media and/or movies, Marriage, Murder and Mayhem, Myth and Mergers. Every night, my dad watches the news and there is never a day that either some of them or all of them is reported.
Marriages are also a form of clan alliance or simply, “social climbing”. Let’s face the truth, even though he is the most awkward looking creature but the richest Filipino courted you, wouldn’t you still say yes? Or would you skip the chance to court the fattest but the most popular megastar in our country? What I mean by clan and alliance is that when for example I am from the Ayala clan, and when a guy from the Sy clan courted me, of course I would say yes, maybe regardless of my feelings (assumingly) but because I know it would benefit my family. And when we would have sons and daughters, they would be the luckiest kid in the Philippines.
The Elite Democracy is the most important and the main idea of the book. Political and Economic Power is held by relatively small number of families whose wealth and power derived from their ownership of land and control of business and industries. There is economic and political inequality that means majority of the population had little influence on the determination of State priorities and policies. Next thing is that political parties’ purpose are contest elections to control local and national offices and to protect and enhance their leaders wealth and power.
Elites have controlled the votes through their tenants and employees; have financed politicians and political parties that through the role of political parties that is to control in the local and national level. As I have mentioned earlier, they must protect their leaders well. Another point is that purchased the loyalty of government officials and military officers; owned, controlled and manipulated the media and even generously supported the church. Making laws as sidelines. It is kind of ironic since making laws, implementing them and pursuing it should be their main job. Not as their sideline.
Congressmen knows that they would be re-elected not because of how efficient a law they have at least drafted but voters would base their votes on how the candidate has outsourced resources in his district. Congressmen doesn’t care at all about how the media or the NGOs perceives them but all they care about especially during campaign period is that of the voters, who are expected to make their calculations based on the benefits they received during a congressman’s term. I saw this table in the book about how fewer the passed bills came to be every year and yet the cost of it goes higher.
From the 1st congress to the 11th they have provided us with a good amount of laws but on the 12th council, in its first three years, only 76 are passed despite of the many different issues in education, population and etc. Every hearing, less and less congressmen comes and whenever they attend, they tend to walk out or worse, fall asleep. The old way of doing things remains very strong in congress. For the longest time, the tradition of spoils, of horse-trading and deal making, has disabled the legislature and made it an effective tool for delivering patronage but a disaster I terms of catalyzing reforms and bringing about development.
They are supposed to be legislators, but members of Congress have been spending less and less time crafting laws. They use the power of congress for their own benefit. Less and less bills of national significance have been passed. Contrary to popular perception, members of the Congress receive compensation in amounts that rival those of business executives. To the point that they don’t even have to pay taxes. Typically, “pork” involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are concentrated in a particular area but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers.
Public works projects, certain national defense spending projects, and agricultural subsidies are the most commonly cited examples. If it is Not specifically authorized; Not competitively awarded; Not requested by the President; Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding; Not the subject of congressional hearings; or Serves only a local or special interest. Requested by only one chamber of Congress; It can be classified as “pork”. Pork Barrel is very dominant in the Philippines. I remembered Miriam Defensor was interviewed and she stated, “Ang sarap mging senador! Since they are a group of people more commonly known as the richest government officials since their monthly salary is high enough, exclusive of their corrupted money and the budget for the bills and etc is more than enough but has become insufficient because of park barrel. The root cause of all the corruption is the pork barrel hidden in such innocent-sounding appropriations as Countrywide Development Fund and Priority Development Assistance Fund. What is developed is not actually the countryside but the private pockets of legislative and executive officials.
Almost half of the appropriation of each and every project goes to corrupt officials. In the process, these officials contaminate private persons who do business with the government such as contractors. Contractors have to kick back about a third of the contract price to government officials or else the contract would be given to somebody else willing to give “commissions. ” As a result, the work of the contractor becomes substandard as he has to get back somehow the money he kicked back to officials. There is almost no government project, big or small, that is not tainted with corruption.
Members of the House of Representatives use the sobriquet “power of the purse” in giving themselves the pork barrel allocations. So it has not abdicated this power to the executive. But it is true that Malacanang has an even bigger pork barrel hidden in “intelligence,” “confidential,” “representation” and other high-sounding names. The generic name for all of them is “stolen funds. ” They were stolen from the taxpayers. The executive branch allows Congress to steal the pork barrel funds because Congress also allows it to steal a bigger share.
A case of you scratch my back, I scratch yours. Also, the pork barrel allows Malacanang to control the congressmen and senators by the simple expedient of not releasing the pork of uncooperative legislators. Cooperate and you get your pork; play hard-to-get and you get nothing. That is the Malacanang practice. Abolish the pork barrel system by obeying the Constitution (it is not in the Charter), and you cut corruption by about two-thirds. Malacanang and Congress will not do that, so it is left to the Supreme Court to overturn its earlier decision that the pork barrel is legal.
How can it be legal when the Constitution says that the job of Congress is to enact laws and that of the executive is to implement them? But with the pork, legislators usurp the functions of executive officials such as the secretaries of public works, education, health, etc. Plain common sense. | Filipinos are known to have reciprocity on debt of gratitude. Whatever is given, something is expected in return. Sometimes it is good, but too much of it affects the governance in the Philippines or the corruption itself. It is in our nature that a favour granted creates debt.
So powerful or influential people capitalize on “utang na loob” to ensure that their political and economic interests will be served. A person pays “utag na loob” by special favors like government contracts, support for certain bills or resolutions and adherence to the benefactor’s political and economical agenda, by money, by votes, by position in government or promotion to higher office like a certain president can choose all his cabinet members because besides that it is a zero sum game, he can reciprocate “utang na loob” by making those who he has debt with a part of the cabinet.
Everything is weather-weather or pana-panahon. Like a fashion trend, this is what is in right now and the next day, it can be out. The new leadership in Congress may have moved away from the orginal “sinful” American model of the pork barrel -but, the Philippine model isn’t any less sinful – it’s even WORSE! Delegating the administration of pork barrel from Noynoy Aquino to Julia Abad of the PMS is an irrelevant gesture. What Aquino did was to put Abad in charge of spreading the loot – he has not stopped the looting of taxpayers money.
Aquino’s campaign promise was “From a President who tolerates corruption… to a President who is the nation’s first and most determined fighter of corruption”How can Aquino be a determined fighter of corruption when he is continuing a wasteful policy that is rife with corrupt practice AND sustaining a culture of patronage? Corruption always gets along with pork barrel. This is where corruption comes in the picture, or it is better if I say that it is the whole picture. The culture of corruption is one of the main things I would like to stress about.
This issue has shaped the worst of the Philippines. As I am typing my reflection that is due tomorrow, I can hear the news in the TV playing in the background. They were talking about the 2004 elections. Seven years after and we are still haunted by the past. The Filipinos might have moved on from that because of the 2010 elections which is far fairer than of the 2004 elections. But a person came out and made the issue a hot topic once again, making every one want someone to be accountable. That someone’s name is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
GMA gave trauma to all Filipinos, making us not trust the government. And by human’s nature, no one would ever learn to trust someone that from the start cheated you. She did it once and all of us assumed everything she’s doing has the same story behind it. Her entire regime was hopeless and we just waited for it to end. Filipinos’ votes by the 2004 elections were kind of worthless and that removed our freedom as citizens of this country. Corruption’s definitions are endless and so are its types.
It think that this is the definition that best describes corruption in the Philippines; involves behaviour on the part of officials in the public and private sectors in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and/or those close to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed. In one lecture of Mr. Manhit, he told the story of how he was treated by the staff of DAR right after they knew he was a relative of a government official. Corruption has been a part of our daily lives.
Whatever economical status you were born with, you can still experience it. How the elites do it, it is self- explanatory. Lower classes allow their votes to be bought and the illegal gambling syndicates that majority came from their class. Middle class like our family (particularly my dad) talked his way out of getting a ticket from a MMDA police telling him we are on our way to Camp Crame to visit a relative that I knew was retired by that time. We all know for a fact that only 30 countries are more corrupt than us. It is sad that most of us get less shocked as we hear these rankings every day.
It became a normal part of the news and that is what makes it more alarming. These rankings and percentiles are very important and they would either help us progress or regress. Our low ratings are becoming a hindrance for help from the US Millennium Challenge Corp because we flunked the indicator set by the MCC. If the Filipinos are having a hard time trusting our government, what more would other countries be? We are rejecting development offered by organizations that are ready to help us. One famous example would be the ZTE deal.
Imagine if the deal was free of corruption, then our lives might have been easier today. If our neighbouring countries with their distinct political systems can all make it while us, can who even based our system with the US cannot at least be higher than Indonesia. Maybe their joke about Indonesia and the Philippines is true. It is true that we pay but we don’t see what we pay for unlike in Indonesia. We cannot keep it up about the present decision making in the government. It is always based on preserving or increasing the benefits for a small or particular group of people.
Because of the failure of our government, people have lost interest on whatever their projects are no matter how efficient they may be because it is on the back of our minds that there might be something illegal that happened behind it. The fact that our taxes are going to these powerful people instead of these funds being properly spent makes us not appreciate what the government has been claiming their project. I remembered Mr. Manhit once said, “Who would ever say that, Wow! This Highway is so nice. ” No one, what we patronize are that of the private sectors and not those of the government.
It is an important point in the article that the government must outsource various public functions to the private sector and building partnerships with NGOs on the deliveries of local services. What I also find senseless is how government officials find themselves bragging about making waiting sheds well in fact the funds used for it was supposed to be used for health care. People might not get sunburned while waiting for a ride but then immunizations are put to second options and yet they still have time to brag about it.
Another issue that shaped the government of the Philippines is the general scepticism towards government; law and justice. Public office is also viewed as a vehicle for preserving or increasing power and wealth. It is a stereotype that honestly, even I believed in that. Through CITIGOV, I have learned that not everyone in the office is there for their personal interest. We can’t help but think that Politicians are there to protect themselves. But we should at least try to gain confidence that government is fair and equitable.
We should at least believe that justice can someday be available not only with the elites and the high class but also to the lower classes. The high degree of regionalism is one of politico- cultural issues that affect the governance in the Philippines. I think that the Philippine national identity emerged as a blend of diverse ethnic and linguistic groups. With our 7,000+ islands, our country is prone to be more divergent as to be unified as one. We are very loyal with our regions. We are here in Manila, but we are proud that we are an Ilocano, Cebuano or whatever region we came from.
I wake up every morning and hear my parents converse in either Filipino or Ilocano. Language was the main point of internal differentiation, but the majority interacted regularly across linguistic lines. Because of political centralization, urbanization, and extensive internal migration, linguistic barriers were eroding, and government emphasis on Pilipino and English at the expense of local dialects also reduced these divisions. However, it still didn’t stop our regional loyalties. I even have this t-shirt with Pinakbet, Longganisa, Bagnet, Empanada, etc printed on it. I also have this baller I love Vigan.
What I am trying to say here is that, the high degree of regionalism is very evident to us Filipinos to the point that I can relate since I am one of those who are very loyal to her region. In an election, it is very important to win the hearts of those who would vote. Aside from buying votes (which is illegal but a lot are doing it) aspiring politicians use language. Language in each region is what makes that certain place more special. For example, Filipinos, or Filipinas perhaps feel happy when Justin Bieber says, “Mabuhay, Philippines. Mahal ko kayo. ” It’s because we feel like he is one of us, like he is closer to us.
The same way as politicians, they say, Maayong buntag then people would clap their hands and shout his/her name. GMA, on the other hand, claims that she is from pampangga, from cebu, from batangas, etc just because even her farthest family member in her family tree is still considered as her relative. She would claim that she grew up in that certain area, or as simple as that people there are close to her hearts. Now, Filipinos in that area, had their hears soften knowing that she is a part of them. We all know what happens next. Patronage and Personality- Oriented Politics Governance is also very dominant in the Philippines.
Every Filipino has this Personalism trait that we give meaning to every little thing others does to us. Simple transactions are considered personal interactions involving factors and blurred distinction between public and private resources. Another example is that it is customary for Filipinos to vote for one’s relative, friend or even the farthest degree of relationship you can imagine, as long as you are connected to that candidate, you would still have the slightest reason to vote, to root or at least support him. We also have the primacy of Kinship Ties. Our family is kind of related to the Marcos.
The husband of my grandmother’s sister is the cousin of Ferdinand Marcos. Our family is under the family tree of Marcos located in his museum in Ilocos. I felt like I still have a connection to him even though it is very far. I have always been in the Ilocos especially when I was a kid and my lola would tell me stories about how influential and how non Ilocanos perceived that Marcos made the country on its worst condition during his reign. But according to my lola, our economy was on its highest peak during his term and Ilocanos still find him an efficient leader despite the martial law.
That is one example of personalism. The “kagawad” of our subdivision is actually my ninong, even before he got elected. He is very famous here and he always talks to me and it is actually fun being close to an official. He even gave me the opportunity to be the SK President if only I have accepted his offer. There was also this one time when our subdivision has this free anti- rabies for dogs and then he asked me not to fall in line anymore and I get to have my dog injected right away. Politics in the Philippines is very personal. To be an efficient official, you have to be very open.
As much as possible, you have to outsource equally to the public. But what is hard to do as an official is to refuse to help especially to your friends and relatives because everything is taken personally. To sum it all up, our family is the first when it comes to our priorities in life. Our family is the most important social and economical unit in the society. Another reason of why this is how government works in the Philippines is because our country has a majority of the marginalized sector and yet the elites still dominate us. The song “Tatsulok” illustrates the current situation of our country right now.
Pervasive poverty causes a culture of immediate orientation or an interest in short term gains. Poor people tends to choose quick solutions like you study in a school that offers low quality of education and yet you don’t consider the quality of education you are getting. The problem is that people think you can get a job with a diploma but people fail to understand that it is the quality that is the most important of all. Their knowledge about how things work is also what makes thing worse. If I were to be given P500 because someone wanted to buy my vote, I would accept the money and swear to him I’ll vote for that candidate.
But when the time comes that I would elect, I would vote for the candidate I really feel that is the most deserving instead of putting in what he asked me to put since he won’t see my vote anyway. When an uneducated person was asked to do the same thing, he would be scared and insecure that the person who bought his vote would see who he voted for. They are also very dependent to the government and they tend to believe that the government is the only hope they got because they are helpless, hopeless and powerless. We are all in the power to reverse the triangle. We have to breed leaders that would make the Philippines better.