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IN MY EYES: Corruption unlimited

Edward B. Antonio

Last time around, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, in a privilege speech, divulged his list of Bureau of Customs personnel, whom he said have been involved in shady activities. The list is headed by resigned BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon.

What is more shocking is the news that when Faeldon was welcomed by the BOC, he was allegedly greeted with a P100M “pasalubong,” akin to the “pabaon” amount that a PNP chief allegedly receives when he retires.

Former Police Chief Angelo Reyes did the more honorable redemption when his name was marred with corruption issues. He gunned down himself at the grave of his mother.

In Japan, killing oneself to redeem his honor is called “hara-kiri.”

Hara-Kiri (Japanese, “belly-cutting”) is a Japanese practice of ceremonious suicide by disembowelment, a method originally restricted by custom to noblemen and later adopted by all classes. The term is also used to signify any suicide performed for the sake of personal honor. If the offender committed voluntary hara-kiri, that is, acted on his own guilty conscience rather than by order of the emperor, his honor was considered restored and his entire estate went to his family.

But this country is composed of many thick-skinned corrupt government officials, fellas.

Hara-kiri is not found in their dictionary.

Their motto is not found in the Ten Commandments of God.

Mang Maing says corrupt officials have designed an 11th commandment. And there is also a twelfth!

The 11th commandment, he says, is: “Thou shalt not be caught.”

And the twelfth? “If thou art caught, thou shalt not tell the truth!”

As per data gathered from the Office of the Ombudsman, Transparency International and Global Financial Integrity as presented by rappler.com, the following data detail the extent of corruption in the Philippines through the years:

1. The Philippines lost $410.5 billion between 1960 and 2011 on illicit activities. In current exchange rates, the amount is about P19.34 trillion. In effect, this P19.34 trillion could have been used for education, health or infrastructure. In the 2016 national budget, this amount is: 154 times the budget for health (P125.4 billion), 52 times the budget for social protection (P370.4 billion), 39 times the budget for education (P490.6 billion) and 25 times the budget for infrastructure (P759.58 billion).

2. A study says the Philippine economy was cheated of $132.9 billion or more than P6 trillion in illicit money outflows in the past five decades, incurring losses of over P357 billion yearly on average. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) released a report that shows the staggering amount of illicit financial outflows including proceeds from crime, corruption and tax evasion from 1960 to 2011.Over $277.6 billion or P12.6 trillion, moreover, was illegally transferred into the Philippines to fuel criminal activities and done through rampant smuggling. Between 1990 and 2011 alone, the government has lost $23 billion or P1 trillion in tax revenues.

3. One dollar of every $4 goes unreported to Customs officials. In terms of lost revenue, the Bureau of Customs tops the list.

According to Global Financial Integrity, money flowing illicitly into the country takes away 25% of the value of all goods as $1 in every $4 goes unreported to Customs officials. To put that amount into perspective, the Philippines lost $3.85 billion in tax revenues in 2011 (P166.74 billion in 2011 rates) which is about 10% of the national budget that same year. And that’s 6 years ago.

4. Filipino executives still think that the Bureau of Customs is the most corrupt government agency. The results of the 2014/2015 Social Weather Stations Survey of Enterprises on Corruption showed that 32% of Filipino executives surveyed said they have personal knowledge of corrupt transactions with the government.

5. One out of 20 families engages in bribery. Apart from businesses, data show that families and individuals take part in dishonest transactions as well. In a 2013 survey, the Office of the Ombudsman found that one in every 20 Filipino families paid a bribe or grease money when transacting with a government agency. Compared to a similar survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2010, fewer families paid a bribe in 2013. The earlier survey found that two in every 20 families gave grease money.

My latest research tells of the following updated data:

1. The Philippines ranks 95th in the global corruption perception index. According to anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI), the Philippines slid in its annual corruption perception ranking. With a score of 35 out of a possible 100, the country currently ranks 95th among 168 countries surveyed, according to expert opinion.

2. In ASEAN, the Philippines is perceived as the 5th least corrupt nation. Compared to Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippines currently is the 5th least corrupt nation among 10 member-states in the region. In 2014, the Philippines tied with Thailand as the 3rd least corrupt nation in the region. It was when the country attained its highest rank in the past decade.

How did corruption start in our country, fellas?

History tells us that it was started by the colonizing Spaniards. They put up haciendas and enslaved the Filipinos whom they called Indios. The richer they became, the more control they exercised. They enriched themselves and would get anything they aspired through the power of money and influence. When the country got free, ilustrados and elitist Filipinos inherited this bad trait. It spread nationwide through the years. Today, many of these same people are ruling the country, and so, the trend continues.

Corruption saps the nation of the people’s hard-earned taxes which should be returning to them in terms of services. Corruption begets poverty and criminality. That’s why there are rebels everywhere.

President Duterte is keen on stamping out corruption in his 6-year reign.

Let’s see if he can sanitize the graft-ridden Bureau of Customs first.#

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