Thursday, September 28, 2006

democracy vs. corruption

Democracy and corruption are a contradiction in terms. Something is basically wrong to say that it is the citizens who rule and yet it is the government that steals from them. In other words, an inherently corrupt government is the denial of democracy while a genuinely democratic country does not accept a corrupt government.

It is either one or the other—not both. A vibrant democracy cannot co-exist with a blatantly corrupt government. When government corruption thrives, this means that the country can be anything but truly democratic. There is a marked difference between little and occasional corruption in government vis-à-vis a government whose flagship is corruption, whose trademark is stealing public funds.

Recently, something quite intriguing happened. It was loudly and proudly announced that the government set aside no less than two billion pesos to counter corruption in government. This is funny, to say the least. Public funds are being stolen by the government and the government earmarked public funds to counter the loss of public funds it steals. This is like throwing gasoline to the fire to put it out.

This is why notwithstanding all fanfares to the contrary, even the World Bank formally declared last week that the Philippines failed to deliver in its professed anti-graft and corruption drive. This is not a surprise really. The country has been a consistent high placer in score sheets of graft and corruption, the exploitation of women and children, decline of education—among other unflattering national liabilities.

There is a limit to how much and how long can people be fooled. Even simple, humble and fun loving people eventually know and feel when they are continuous victims of unrelentless thievery. At first they would simply feel bad and only speak among themselves but time could come that together they rise and act. And if they fail to do this by themselves, others might do it for them.

Remember Thailand, what people were not able to do, the entrance of tanks and the carrying of rifles did it—smoothly and efficiently. This is not to say that the same will happen in the country. This is only to say that anything can happen when more and more impoverished people behold their more and more corrupt government.

+O. V. CRUZ, D.D.
28 September 2006