CORRUPTION as the “historical reality of sin” is a condition in human life. It was already in existence during the time of Jesus Christ. Matthew 26:15 states that Judas Escariot committed the betrayal of Jesus Christ in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. Judas’ act was already a form of corruption.
We know how the country, especially the government bureaucracy, suffers from widespread corruption. Corruption comes in many forms. These includes graft, bribery, embezzlement, backdoor deals, nepotism and patronage. Corruption is in governance, a social problem, and even the religious sector is not spared.
According to the 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of the Transparency International, the Philippines dropped to 113th out of 189 countries. The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 means that a country is perceived as very clean. Transparency International Philippines said some of the factors that contributed to the country’s slight jump are improvement in service and cutting of red tape.
Corruption erodes the trust we have in the public sector to act in our best interest. It also washes our taxes or rates that have been earmarked for important community projects — meaning we have to put up with poor quality services or infrastructure or we miss out altogether. They say that corruption, especially in the public sector, is already a way of life and part of our system.
Just recently, President Duterte, in a televised address, offered to resign because of what he termed as “endless corruption.” He said, “I offered to resign as President. I had everyone in the Cabinet summoned. I said I was getting fed up. In my years in government, there has been no end to this corruption. It is really hard to stop. Up to now it is being committed every day. Can you stop it? You cannot. There is no way. I am telling you.”
Was the President’s offer to resign tantamount to admitting that he failed in his anti-corruption campaign? To recall, two of Duterte’s campaign promises were to stop illegal drugs and corruption. He failed in both promises because illegal drugs continue to proliferate despite his administration’s no-nonsense campaign to the extent of killing drug personalities and corruption “‘flourished” under his watch.
Is the Duterte’s administration’s campaign against corruption a failure? “No,” Malacañang said. The Duterte administration has been fighting corruption. The President has already fired top government officials involved in corruption. True, Duterte has fired some of his appointees who allegedly committed shenanigans but he also appointed some of those he fired to other positions.
If the government failed in its anti-corruption campaign, is it because of our laws and how we prosecute corrupt and grafters in government? Is it because of “due process?” The President, no matter how firm he is in fighting corruption, loses control of the cases once these are filed with the judiciary because of due process and separation of powers.
What the President can do is to dismiss erring officials who are his appointees. He cannot fire elected officials because these officials will claim they have the mandate of the people who elected them. Did we hear of any congressman or senator being fired because of corruption? They can even easily get away with cases once these are filed in court and besides, it will take too long before these cases are resolved. Look what happened to the Department of Public Works and Highways officials involved in the Asean 2006 lamppost scandal who were convicted by the Sandiganbayan recently. It took 13 years before they were convicted. True, there were other convictions (of other government officials) but we can only count these in our fingers.
There are several causes for the government’s failure in the fight against corruption. We have enough laws like the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and on plunder but the implementation is weak, especially in the prosecution, and the justice system moves slowly as this branch of government has also been infiltrated by corrupt people.
In communist and Islamic countries, corrupt officials are sentenced to musketry or are hanged in public. Still, corruption exists.