in the Philippine Political Jungle
By Apolinario Villalobos
The synonyms of jungle are: maze, mass, tangle, wilderness. Not so kind likenesses of the word are: ruthless situation, cruel world, harsh world, cutthroat world, to name a few. And, Philippine politics is like that, as seen from any angle. Just like any jungle where found are treasures, be they wildlife or hidden by unscrupulous urbanites to be dug up later on, the jungle of politics also teem with golden opportunities – loopholes in the laws, regulations, rules, and worst, operating systems in the government.
In the Philippines, no government project is free from “commission”, the standard offshoot of graft and corruption. The government officials and politicians, whose veins are made alive by the aforementioned, practically live on them like leeches, as if corruption is simply a part of their responsibilities in operating agencies and administering local government units. Every time projects then are approved, they are not seen as deserved benefits of the people, but source of “financial opportunities” for the corrupt officials. The hunt then is for bigger projects that offer bigger “financial opportunities”.
Players in the Philippine politics who are already in place find it very necessary to hunt for treasures so that they are assured of funding for the coming elections. And all of them have become successful, until rivals have uncovered their schemes. So, today, there are government officials who face graft cases for gross overpricing of projects that scandalously amount to millions and billions of pesos. Even the helpless Boy Scouts of the Philippines is dragged into this kind of outrageous scandalous scheme. Hospitals, schools, public buildings, bridges and highways are not spared, even far-flung homesteads developed by ignorant farmers, waiting to be titled become properties of these “hunters”!
Government officials and politicians have enriched themselves because of the loopholes in the laws regulating the forest in the country. One aging politician even openly bragged about his logging interests during an interview on TV. Local government officials allow mining of mineral-laden sands in their locality by circumventing rules on the natural endowments of the country. The exposes by media did not help a bit to suppress their unscrupulous transactions, as the activities are still going on, thanks to the antiquated laws that cannot even pinch to hurt the offender.
The ultimate “treasures” of these “hunters” are the Filipinos who allow themselves, to be bought during election. Local government officials practically “hoard” these live “treasures” in squatter areas , called by hypocrites for decency’s sake as “depressed areas”. These greedy local government officials “tend” to their needs, even to the point of closing their eyes to illegal power and water connections so that these “live treasures” can be made to stay within their political territory, to be transformed into precious votes during election.
Any jungle can get denuded due to abuse, and the third-world country like the Philippines is not far from being transformed into one as it gets shamelessly exposed to extreme helplessness and poverty due to the abuse committed by the “hunters” that rule its equally helpless political system…loop-holed with corruption like an aged piece of cheese!