In The News: MB Polls Voters on Critical Issues

This morning’s online version of the Manila Bulletin features a reader poll on the front page, which asks the question, “What specific problem would you like the next Philippine president to address first?” The responses (as of the time I viewed them, which was approximately 2 pm in Manila), are not at all surprising given the general tone of the election campaign to this point:

Unemployment:                22% (523 votes)
Hunger:                                    4% (92 votes)
Education:                             8% (177 votes)
National defense:              2% (36 votes)
CORRUPTION:                   62% (1430 votes)
Budget allocation:            3% (67 votes)

No one in the Get Real universe would argue that “corruption” is not a serious problem that does not need to be addressed.  And certainly no reasonable person could argue that the concerns of the people should be ignored. Corruption is clearly an issue of concern, and must be effectively addressed.

The disturbing implication of this survey, when viewed in the context of what the candidates are saying about the issue of corruption, is that a significant part of the electorate seems destined for a big disappointment in how corruption is handled by whoever is eventually elected president. For the most part, the root causes of corruption are not being addressed by the candidates. Dick Gordon is a significant exception, but even his message could use a little refinement, because the connection he makes between the fundamental problems underlying corruption and the fact of corruption itself is clearly not yet getting through to the voters. The same can probably also be said of Nick Perlas. Neither of the two supposed “front-running” candidates, Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino, have addressed the issue effectively at all, instead offering only vague administrative or institutional fixes. Apart from the fact that the sincerity of these ideas is questionable given the significant corruption issues dogging both candidates, they are simply not good ideas. The underlying problems that cause the administrative or institutional flaws that directly result in corruption are given short shrift or ignored entirely, and as a consequence, the proposals are as good as doomed before they even get the chance to implement them.

While the attention paid to current affairs and the opportunity afforded to the Bulletin’s readers to have their say is admirable, the Bulletin itself seems to have fallen for the predictable buzzword trap by even including “corruption” on their poll. The other choices offered all in some way actually address the underlying problems that lead to corruption, and all have more direct, palpable impacts on the average Filipino. One wonders what the voters would say if the shibboleth of “corruption” had been omitted, and has to be disappointed that the Bulletin has overlooked an opportunity to find out.


About bkritz

I'm a writer, and I do things my own way. That might sound cool to you, unless you're one of the people who actually knows me, in which case you're probably shaking your head in exasperation at the depth of that understatement.
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9 Responses to In The News: MB Polls Voters on Critical Issues

  1. benign0 says:

    Pinoys cite “corruption” as a “problem” to be “solved” by the president as if they themselves aren’t part of the problem. Corruption is a sysemic disease, with roots that go all the way into the very fabric of the society itself.

    At the lowest level, Pinoys have a predisposition towards working against and around systems and processes rather than working with these. This stems from a lack of an ethic for behaving within the framework of a structure (e.g. laws, social conventions such as manners, ethical frameworks, etc.). That is the ultimate source of corruption and its prevalence in positions of power merely reflects the bottom up effect of the culture of corruption ingrained within and interwoven into Pinoy society itself.

    Therein lies the danger of survey “findings” bandied around by our hollow-headed Media. It sends a message of false validation to the public that Pinoys are mere victims and it is all within the hands of government officials to “solve” problems that “victimise” us.

    Sad, so sad, is Pinoy society. 😀

    • lester2k1 says:

      i have a question on this one- pinoys have a predisposition towards working against and around systems due to the existing lack of fairness of the system. ours is not a meritocracy, instead, its who you know, how much money you have, what you can bring to the table. so what should be done by the average Juan dela Cruz- hope for the best? its a chicken and egg conondrum i agree- but where does it start?

    • benign0 says:

      Roads and motorists is an example of a system on which certain behaviours can be observed. Pinoy motorists cannot be expected to do the right thing because road systems are not designed properly. Most roads do not have coherently-laid out road signs and lane markings. Where they exist, lanes just suddenly disappear, six-lane highways simply merge into two-lane roads, and signs do not reflect actual road conditions.

      You cannot trust the road/signage/signalling/rules system of Philippine streets to facilitate your arrival to your destination by you observing its rules. For one thing, sticking to one lane usually results in you being hemmed into a slow-moving cluster of jeepneys and/or gettng cut-off by other more aggressive drivers. In other words a typical motorist does not see him/herself gaining anything from working with the system.

      Scale this simple model up, and some insight into the whole reason why the Philippines does not work can be gleaned. There is a kanya-kanya mentality that copes with systems that are designed with our renowned bahala-na and pwede-na-yan mentalities. And this kanya-kanya approach is applied with impunity.

      Note those three elements:

      – bahala na
      – pwede na yan
      – impunity

      They are elements in that Filipino Cultural Trinity framework I illustrated a while back, illustrated by the following diagram:

      That’s what I mean when I say that the issues of our nation need to be seen as a system so that systemic solutiobs can be formulated and implemented. I doubt if our politicians are up to that sort of world-class thinking.

  2. ChinoF says:

    Seems like a chicken or egg conundrum too. They’ll have to make sure that the voters themselves are less corrupt so that they could vote the right person into office. But the voters themselves say the politicians are corrupt, so how could they themselves avoid corruption? Yet it has to start somewhere.

    • bokyo says:

      It won’t really be a chicken-egg situation if one or the other party is really serious about “reducing” corruption, hence the saying “walang manloloko kung walang nagpapaloko”, though this one with take a really collective and collaborative effort .

      For me , corruption is not the “problem” to solve; it is an “opportunity” from more underlying reason, like poor law enforcement, poor education, lackluster job performance, ineffective government process, unstrict audits, lack of discipline to the common pinoy, etc.

      Really, the public officials must start from somewhere AND the people must cooperate to solve these issues.

  3. BenK says:

    Time and again, every politician at every level runs on the “Stop Corruption” track, and corruption is a consistent problem. Someone should tell the Filipino voters:

    The common denominator in all your dissatisfying relationships is YOU.

    Think about it: the politicians change, the situation never does, so where is the constant? Hmm.

  4. naize abella says:

    if we, by sheer good fortune, elect a president who is incorruptible, would we stop paying for a fixer at the LTO (or other government agency) when it is faster and cheaper (at least in our city) to pay for one than get a license (or other government permits) through the proper channels?

    • BenK says:

      A president is one thing, but does the president really have that much impact on how your city hall is run from day to day? Think about that for a minute.

      As for your original question, I’d say no — just being incorruptible doesn’t fix the problem. That just prevents a new person from taking part in the existing problem.

  5. Mimang says:

    Filipinos will never be fed up with the issue of corruption. They’ll never quit blaming the president for their own corruptions. We all know that CORRUPTION IS THE PRIMARY PROBLEM since the time no one can remember, not just with the government but with all the Filipinos. What’s disappointing about this poll is that CORRUPTION is the only apparent choice. It’s so tempting I can almost read “PICK ME!” beside it. What’s the sense of a poll if everyone already knows what the result’s gonna be?

    Why can’t they just make a poll asking the corruption-obsessed pinoys who are they gonna vote? I think that is the direct-to-the-point and much better version of their poll.

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