Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be
Poverty because of Corruption
By Apolinario Villalobos
Perfection should be ruled out in the reckoning of a progressive country, because there will always be poverty due to corruption somewhere in the system of governance. In other words, the glitter of progress cannot hide poverty. For ultra-progressive countries, the signs may be insignificant as they try to blend with the glamour of urbanity. But in other countries, especially, the third-world, the signs are very prevalent, so that there is always a massive effort to cover them up occasionally, literally, as it is done every time there are special occasions such as visits of foreign dignitaries. This practice is successful in the Philippines.
Practically, poverty is the shadow of progress, and literally, too, as where there are looming high-rise buildings that are pockmarks of progress, not far from them are slums or homeless citizens who huddle together under bridges and nooks. These are misguided citizens who flock to the cities after selling their homestead, that have been farmed for several generations, to deceitful land developers, at a measly price. These are the urban squatters willing to be relocated but found out that the promised “paradise” do not even have a deep well so they go back to their sidewalk “homes”. These are contractual workers who have no job securities as they earn only for five to six months, after which they leave their fate to luck while looking for another job.
How does corruption ever be involved in the sad fate of the exploited? Simply, by the government’s negligence in providing decent relocation sites with job opportunities and basic facilities to those uprooted from their city abodes for more than so many years; by its cuddling of the spurious contractualization perpetrated by greedy employers; by its failure to guide and protect the rights of farmers who sell their rice fields to subdivision developers at measly prices that are not even enough to sustain them for six months; by its failure to provide the citizens with the basic necessities as funds are allowed to be pocketed by corrupt officials; and practically by looking the other way despite the availability of laws against vote buying.
Third- world country leaders should stop using the word “progressive”, but instead they should use “surviving” to describe their respective economy. If a country’s economy cannot sustain, much less, provide a “comfortable life” to majority of its citizens, then it is still “ailing”…hence, expect poverty to be trailing behind, just a few steps away from the pretentious allegations!
Listening to the Commissioner of COA during the latest Senate hearing on the Philippine Science High School Building (November 18), makes one conclude that it is a useless agency of the government. Something is wrong with its mandated responsibilities. To a layman’s knowledge, an audit is supposed to be conducted to know if a certain project is in order or not. There is not even a complete transparency on how it operates. The COA is supposed to provide the check and balance, so that it is shocking to know that the agency has no capability to assume such role due to so many inadequacies, including the budgetary constraint. This helplessness of the agency gave corrupt agencies and local governments to skirt rules in funding projects, out of which they can derive scandalous commissions, as payments are based on their recommendation
The honesty of the COA Commissioner is commendable in admitting the agency’s handicaps so that the Senate can finally legislate rules to help it effectively operate. In other words, the agency has been wanting for support that was denied it. Instead of considering their latest proposed budget, for instance, it was drastically slashed. The additional budget that was disapproved was supposed to have been used for the needed logistics such as construction of offices so that its auditors shall no longer plead for a table space or cubicle in town or city halls, as well as, other government agencies where they serve as in-house auditors.
The Commissioner revealed that their system is not even hi-tech, and that they make use of boxes for their other files, thereby, endangering their confidentiality. She admitted that some important documents were lost because of their inadequate filing system, to which one Senator added, that because of lost documents some cases have been dismissed due to technicalities involving original documents.
The COA is supposed to be a formidable government agency tasked to assess if acquisitions and projects of the government are in order. The agency is an important check against graft and corruption. Unfortunately, its inadequacy has become a big loophole which dishonest officials and politicians have exploited to systematically rob the government coffer of people’s money.