In cooperation of US Embassy and Procurement Watch, Inc., a seminar was conducted on “Strengthening GO-NGO Partnership in Government Procurement Process” last October 11, 2010 at Sulu Ballroom in Grand Regal Hotel. The talk centered around the existing corruption and the possible ways of curbing it. Project on Government Oversight or POGO shared their views and experiences in promoting improvements and setting realistic changes on certain government issues. Mr. Scott H. Amey, General Councel of POGO in Washington, D.C. shared some views on how to apply internal and external pressure through media, the public, and government insiders to ensure that the government implements policies and programs in a manner that benefits all. He reiterated though that this must follow a systematic approach.
Exposing corruption could mean social devaluation. And social devaluation could mean losing a job, a social status, friends, and even one’s own life.
The question lies not in the effectivity of the systematic approach in curbing corruption but rather how to make people respond accordingly. How can you convince someone to spill their secrets knowing this could only lead to trouble. It’s like suicide bombing for a cause.
Not that easy.
Another thing is, “How can you implement a system without corruption when it has already become a lifestyle?” The system works and people is abiding it, to suddenly straighten a crooked line could confuse a lot of people. Corruption has become an integral part of processes in government implementation that to change it, no matter how good the intentions are, is to literally disrupt the prevailing practices common to everyone. Disrupting the norm could result to resistance, not only with the officials involved, but with the people as well. Resistance could lead to people debunking a strategic implementation whose immediate effect could inconvenience them but would literally improve their lives in the long run.
How can you help people who doesn’t want it?
Annoying isn’t it? how people sometimes would defend a decadent system because changing it for the better would inconvenient them.
Oh but we do want it.
We clamor for change.
We cry out for improvement.
Ironically, we just don’t want to be disrupted.
But I might be wrong. One of the reasons why people don’t act on anything it’s because they do not know where to report and who to report to. The authorities? the legal department? the media? how can one be sure that it is the right agency to confess to? The credibility of certain public officials and the public image of the police does not promote confidence. The media could make a circus out of your life. It has become a gamble in terms of searching the right person to talk to. It’s certainly a ‘dog-eat-dog’ world and the puppy cum whistle blower must play his cards right or he might find himself walking without a head.
Is the answer an independent agency? POGO would say yes. and I think, why not?
But it’s not only the agency to report to.
As POGO mentioned, they passively wait for someone to come forward and only then can they act on the information given. It is easy in the American culture to boldly report but this obviously might present a problem in the Filipino culture. Strong, we may be, we have a problem in openly raising a hand and giving our opinion even in the classroom. Passively waiting for someone to come out may prove to be a long and excruciating wait.
The problem has spread and its root is deep.
It is not only the system but the culture as well.
It is not only in the government implementation but it touches the common way of living too.
It is not only a matter of changing the implementation but changing the mindset of people in a culture that wallows in obvious decadence.
PWI President, Atty. Amador Astudillo, was correct in pointing out that to fight a corrupt system is to fix first the decadence existing in a culture. The cultivation of Cultural Integrity by building values to create ethical structures that will guide one’s actions is a must. The issue surrounding corruption is important, but the reason why this issue must be discussed and reported must be understood as well. Otherwise the implementation of the program, no matter how excellent, may become a playground for people with political and personal interests in the guise of promoting social responsibility.
Wastes and loss also exist not only because of corruption but also because of wrong decisions. Capacity building and development training is also crucial. The official in power may not be corrupt but inadequate to decide appropriately due to lack of knowledge or experience. An uninformed official making the wrong decision is an easy target for manipulation and control.
On the other hand, the people must also know the law and their rights. As abuse of any kind can only be identified if the people watching knows what is lawful and unlawful. Education and capacity building, not only of the officials but of the people as well is also important in fighting corruption.
Filipinos are ripe in exposing corruption, in my opinion. We may not know it all, but we have an intuitive talent of recognizing ethical and moral breeches. Ok, maybe a few fanatics and a little research on the law would be helpful. But the thing is, each of us tend to speculate on our own but only a few brave steps out…
Its time to collaborate.
There is strength in numbers.
This way, the coward can hide behind the brave while he learns how to be one in the process.
One doesn’t have to face bullet to be useful.