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corruptionThe current President of the Philippines seems wholly determined to fight corruption every step of the way. It can hardly be said that this is a bad thing, especially given the current state of affairs. A lot of people decry the corruption in the Philippines but feel that very little can actually be done about it. Some people would go so far as to claim that other countries are not corrupt in the same manner ... and to a degree they would be correct ... but only to a degree. If the current President is making a stand to fight corruption though, is it not absolutely imperative that the people of the Philippines stand by him and make their stand with him to put this abhorrent practice into the annals of history where it belongs? But what can the people actually do that would make any real difference and stand any real chance of ending corruption?

 

President Duterte has declared a war on drugs. This has been received with mixed reviews but certainly an exceptional amount of attention and coverage in both the press and the arena of international politics. What has not been nearly so well publicized, are his efforts to end corruption within the hallowed halls of Government. Like so many problems however, the corruption seems to be systemic in nature. Thus, it is going to require a systemic response if it is to be fully eradicated ... or even to be kept in check. Unfortunately it would seem, some amount of corruption seems to be inherent in human nature. While a great many people will proclaim that so many other nations across the world are free of corruption, the fact remains that they are absolutely not. In many cases, they are substantially more corrupt. The only real difference is the fact that the only beneficiaries of the corruption are those who can afford to “pay to play”. The bottom line is that corruption really is global and rampant ... and needs to be stopped. This of course, only leads to the question of how to stop it.

As has been the case with so much of the history of the Philippines, the solutions lie with the power of the people. Unfortunately, it is nothing so simple or so quick as merely getting out in the streets and protesting. (Remember that systemic problems require systemic solutions) Fortunately however, the answer is almost readily found at the Barangay level ... though it does need to be moved up a notch. At the Barangay level, corruption may or may not exist, but in those cases where it does, it is generally relatively minor in comparison. It may require buying dinner or even Kuatro Kantos for the Barangay Electrician to get a problem resolved or something slightly larger, but as the governmental bodies grow larger, it would seem at least, so does the corruption.

This is certainly not to say that all government officials are corrupt as the vast majority of them are working diligently and striving with every ounce of their being to make a decent future for the people of the Philippines and their posterity. What it is saying, is that those good politicians are far-too-frequently and effectively negated by the corruption that does exist ... and they need the help of the people to resolve the problems that they are facing even more directly than the average citizen. Honest politicians (and their families) can and have on many occasions been beaten, tortured, robbed and even killed because they refused to take part in the corruption. These good men and women who are actively supporting the people not only deserve, but need the support of a united people behind them if they are to be successful.

Some countries and substantially more provinces around the globe have implemented programs to give the citizenry a more direct voice in the way that they are governed. What is a Constitutional Republic if not the collective voice of the people deciding? These programs are generally either submitted as Ombudsman Programs and/or Citizen Review Boards or Citizen Review Panels. However, they are not tasked with the daily operations in the same way as politicians, rather they are common citizens who hear and meet on matters of corruption and abuses of power. They are not limited in focus to government corruption, but rather seek to ensure that the collective voice and will of the people is not only heard, but carries actual value. The actual force and effect of the Program depends on how they are established.

In some cases, primarily among the Review Boards and Review Panels, the citizens merely hear complaints by people who have been the direct recipient (or victim) of abuse, mistreatment and/or some type of government abuse. It is preferable howver, to establish a Panel or Board that has the freedom to investigate episodes of corruption as well. While the panel itself will not have investigative powers, it should have the authority to make official notice to the relevant agencies and have those notifications taken seriously and pursued. The panels should also include citizens from the general population and specifically detail any eividence or overt indication of abuse and/or corruption. Ultimately however, the real power of the people, depends on what is established by the people, not on the politicians!

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