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.