Public corruption is costly for the people. Structural corruption is dangerous for the country. The country is what it sadly is, the people are what they pitifully are, because of endemic corruption in government. This is an open secret, a national knowledge.
Thus: It is not enough that people are poor and desperate. It is neither enough that men, women and the youth look at their government with suspicion and disdain. It has even become necessary for thousands, nay, millions of workers and professionals resolutely to leave their motherland in search for a better present and future elsewhere but in their own country.
Never mind that they are separated from their families. Never mind if they suffer discrimination abroad. Never mind even if their own lives are placed in danger. The overriding reason is their feeling and conviction—rightly or wrongly—that their own country is aimless, lost, hopeless.
And to confirm the fears and pains of the Filipinos, their dear country has recently acquired the dubious distinction as the second most corrupt country in Asia. True or otherwise, this is far from being the cause of pride, the premise of hope.
All these have structural corruption in government as their radical cause. And when corruption has become structural, it comes dangerous for the structure itself. Getting rid of such a corruption could bring down the very structure it has become part of.
When corruption has already become part of governance, it is well possible that when someone in power gets rid of corruption, the corrupt gets rid of him or her. Unless the succeeding leadership is gifted with unquestionable integrity, competence and strong will, corruption slowly but surely makes a comeback, becoming once again a constituent part of the government structure.
The country is now at a crossroad. The national leadership is challenged to decide: Will it simply hold on to the status quo or fight corruption in government? Will it only counter corruption for appearance? Or is it prepared to take the risk of really cleansing the government of structural corruption?
The ball is now in its court.
15 March 2005