When I tell younger people that it was much better 40 years ago, I usually draw raised eyebrows. Then I tell them that it might be broken in places but the system of checks and balances were still functioning then. That politicians can still be booted out of office because of perceived corruption. Not now.
Younger people no longer heard of line-item budgeting, a system destroyed by Marcos during martial law so he is free to divert (euphemistically called re-align) public funds as he sees fit. In line-item budgeting all items to be budgeted is given an amount by Congress and funds for it are identified. In this way no significant diversion of funds is possible, hence, corruption is also minimized. This was when Congress still held the full power of the purse. Not now. Everybody has to kowtow to Malacanang and Cory failed to realize the importance of re-setting it.
Now is it a wonder why all the congressmen act like running dogs of Malacanang? Mind you, the term tuta (running dog) has already disappeared from the vocabulary as if it was interred with Marcos. But I remember even at the worst time of his regime, he had still principled people around him who will not dip their fingers in the public till and he always had capable and competent people who are free to say no (but of course it is another matter if he will listen to their counsel). Now all I see around Malacanang are plain running mongrels. Even calling them dogs might be an insult to our loyal canine friends.
There were “commissions” (takes) during Marcos’ time. But if it was probably in the vicinity of 10-20% now it is probably in the realm of 30% or more. All the powers-that-be dips their hands in the projects, from the bureaucrats to the elected officials but it is the latter that are “grabe” (too much).
Corruption is escalating but protest against it is practically a whimper now. It seems we are simply too inure about it now or feeling too powerless to stop it. But at least, the silver lining, if it can be called such, is we have not yet reached sub-Saharan African level where more than 40% of the public funds disappear to only reappear later in European banks.
Where did this all began? Our public dealers (leaders kuno) should certainly be blamed. With a massive mandate all Cory understood was to restore “elite democracy” and its trappings (like the old Congress) and restore Marcos-seized oligarch properties (like Meralco) and reimburse those who were squeezed by Marcos like Joecon Concepcion (by funneling to them low-cost loans extended to us by other countries which was meant to jumpstart our post-Marcos economy).
Cory’s successors were also remiss in reigning in corruption. Ramos and de Venecia like pork barrel immensely so that they can buy off Congress. Making Congress their running dog was the greatest “legacy” of Ramos. And his second-greatest “legacy” is appointing an Ombudsman which will simply cover their tracts.
Arroyo, the protege of Ramos and de Venecia, certainly learned well this “statecraft” and even did one better than them. The protege got too good that she had the temeriry to dump her mentors once the mentors started signalling “sobra na” (too much already).
Erap was content with jueteng money and that’s according to him. But like the others he also cannot say no to friends. But at least he can say no to relatives.
Sometimes I wish the First Quarter Storm will come again. But rules of assembly are different now. And if the youth then had the feeling that they have to set aright their home country now the feeling is to get the necessary degree and experience needed in the least time so they can work abroad. Anyway there is always the Popovism to lull the people that the Philippines is a “great” country as if we are a “blessed” country and people to begin with. And so the circus goes round and round and round.
Bless Henry Sy! He makes us forget our problems with his malls. Who said the best things in life is not free? (Just look at Malacanang and the congressmen).