Many people today focus on anti-incumbentism (kicking out the president) because she is blamed as the source of corruption in the country. In other words, the prevailing view is that only the top is corrupt. The government only, and not the people, since the people are blameless.
This is another sad fallacy of our damaged culture. I took the liberty of appropriating this comment by BongV in response to Cocoy at FilipinoVoices, about investing in the Philippines, to explain the real problem:
“Let me tell you about what happened to a retired couple who did just that. A retired surgeon and his wife settled in South Cotabato in the mid 90s. Bought a house in Kalsangi. Invested their retirement money in a clinic, a trucking business, and a fishing business. After the exercise, the couple swore they will NEVER invest in the Philippines ever again, even at gunpoint. The wife narrated their experience:
The trucking business.
She bought a fleet of trucks. The drivers that she hired had high fuel expense. Turns out the drivers would fill up their trucks. Then, they will remove the fuel and sell it to trike and jeepney drivers. She replaced the drivers, same crap happens. She closed the business.
The fishing business.
She buys a fishing fleet. She maintains the boats, provides the fuel, provides allowances to the boats crew. The fishermen she hired, they sell their catch before they reach land. She replaced the crew, same crap happens.
The medical clinic.
Her husband opened a medical clinic and designed it to US standards. The other physicians bad mouthed him and told the patients her husband will be expensive because he is from the US? When it came time to share clinical data, the local colleagues were not collaborative. He found it strange because in the US he was used to MDs discussing their cases so they can have faster resolution thereby improving health delivery to the public. The husband got tired of the bad-mouthing and the uncooperativeness of his colleagues. They closed the clinic.
When they arrived, the wife was so happy because she had a maid, a gardener, and a driver. Her utensils, her groceries, her linen, her family’s clothes was slowly pilfered by the maid, the gardener, and the driver – and their relatives who would hang out in the house all day. Months later, she was back to the US do-it-yourself lifestyle and people couldn’t visit unless they called in advance. She bought a Whirlpool washer and dryer because the labandera’s daughters had a habit of wearing clothes that weren’t theirs.
Today, they narrate their experience to every doctor and nurse who asks about investing in the Philippines.”
While this is about investing in the Philippines, it actually shows how corrupt poor and ordinary people can be. They can be just like the politicians they hate. Sounds like a sad isolated case, doesn’t it? It isn’t that isolated.
I myself am now living in a house under reconstruction, and we have experienced materials and even our own belongings (which have to be moved around because of the reconstruction) being pilfered by the workers. Thus, our workers now are composed of a completely different crew than those who started.
Electric lines on our street on two occasions sparked dangerously because someone a stole power cable from a nearby post (you can’t blame Meralco for this one, it’s the fault of “poor” thieves who don’t care about the safety of others) and it caused an overload on our own cables.
Then there are men without jobs who beget loads of children with different wives, maids who beget children from adventurous affairs only to abandon them, and cheats and swindlers galore. These are among the poor who may even claim to be “oppressed.”
But even middle class working people have their faults, such as stealing office supplies, cheating in office politics and willful traffic violations – you know. Nobody’s perfect.
Now, look again at the case of the retired couple’s businesses. Replace those businesses with government, and the employees with the politicians and government workers. Doesn’t it seem so similar?
My point is that corruption starts at the bottom, and not at the top.
Ordinary people themselves are corrupt first, and this flowed upward into the government.
This is because government people were once themselves ordinary people. And whatever habits they had as ordinary people they will bring into that office.
Our senators, congressmen and presidents whom we elect are like this.
If they cheat with fuel, supplies and materials, when they get into government, they can do that with pork barrel and public money.
The opposite view that the corrupt government leads to the ordinary people turning to corrupt ways to survive does not hold as much water.
The government people don’t hold seminars on corruption or how to be corrupt. The ordinary people can think of it themselves.
It is their decision to force themselves into moral bankruptcy and turn to corrupt ways just to survive.
This is the problem. How can the people expect the government to shape up when they themselves do not shape up? They earn the label of hypocrites.
So you think that this didn’t happen in the old days? Recall World War II history, when Manila was declared an open city upon the Japanese occupation. The city police were disarmed to appease the Japanese. Knowing this, people started to loot the city. The police, instead of just watching and shaking their heads, joined the looting. Not much different from today, isn’t it?
They were like this before, they are like this today, and if they don’t improve, they will be like this in the future.
If the quality of our ordinary people does not change, then our top government will not change.
Before asking for someone to be kicked out, they better kick out their own bad habits.