“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.”
– George Bernard Shaw
After the super typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan struck Eastern Visayas, the Philippines got the attention of the world and many offered help to restore this part of the country. With billions of pesos collected from all the donations received, most, if not all, of the typhoon victims are supposedly staying in safe and comfortable houses by now. However, if you visit Tacloban City alone, you can see that many homeless people are still struggling to survive in tents and temporary bunk houses. There are also lots of victims who have not received any assistance yet. The question is, where are these donations now?
It is sad to think that there are people who are expected to lead the restoration in the region, but a number of them are robbing the victims their chance to get back to their feet. Corruption has always been the problem in the Philippine government, but who would have thought that there could still be some corrupt officials who would also take advantage of Yolanda’s ruins? This made the catastrophic effects worse.
With how it destroys our country, corruption is no doubt worse than any calamity. Here are 9 reasons of why it is more devastating than any super typhoon:
1. It leaves more people homeless.
Yolanda or Haiyan destroyed many houses in the Eastern Visayas, leaving people homeless. However, we may not notice it, but corruption has made more people—all over the Philippines—homeless. Although poverty and homelessness are also the fault of the ordinary citizens who chose to be lazy rather than work hard to earn their own homes, the government still have the duty to recognize every Filipino’s privilege to have access to affordable housing packages. And although informal settlers or squatters should not be there in the first place, the government still have the obligation to provide them a standard relocation. But reality bites, despite of the billions of taxes set aside for housing projects across the nation, we can still see a great number of Filipinos who are still homeless.
2. It causes nationwide hunger and malnutrition.
After the Haiyan devastation, the Philippines did not just receive financial donations from other countries. Food and medicines also came in. However, instead of receiving imported canned goods and other basic things, which were expected, several typhoon survivors are telling that they only received local and cheap relief goods. It is not about the kinds of the goods given actually, but if the allegations are true, where all the imported donations have gone to? This type of corruption is not just true after the super typhoon. This happens all the time all over the Philippines. Supposedly, the government has budget for the health and nutrition of the people, but why is that malnutrition and hunger are still rampant?
3. It brings hopeless case of poverty.
The Philippines is not poor in terms of natural resources. The government is also aggressively collecting taxes from taxpayers and consumers. However, many suffer of poverty because they do not receive the worth of their taxes. Instead, there are a few at the top who use the people’s money for their personal interest while millions die in sickness and hunger. If only the billions of money which went down to the pockets of the Pork Barrell Scam heads were used to fund better education, hospitals, and houses, then Filipinos would have better lives now.
4. It results to more casualties.
Yolanda killed thousands of people in Tacloban and other affected areas. However, corruption has killed more throughout the years. Thousands of Filipinos die every year because they cannot afford to pay hospital bills and medicines. Others die in the streets out of hunger and coldness. You can also add the victims of political killings who tried to stand up for the nation’s rights.
5. It causes slavery.
Because of poverty and the lack of opportunities in the Philippines, there are many who choose to get out of the country and work somewhere abroad as domestic helpers. Although this job is not something to be ashamed of, let us face the reality that nobody has ever dreamed to end up in this position. What is worse, some Filipino luck-seekers abroad find themselves caught in a human trafficking scheme—which is considered to be modern slavery.
6. It results to more crimes and violence.
Many condemned the massive looting that happened all around Tacloban right after Yolanda. Who could blame the people when they had nothing to eat anymore? Nevertheless, this incident is nothing compared to the crimes and violence that happen all over the country everyday. Worse, most of these crimes are driven by poverty such as robbery, prostitution, and drug dealing. If only the government could provide more job opportunities to the people, then the crime rate will certainly decrease. However, this is not going to happen as long as the budget for this just goes to the big guys’ hands.
7. It shuts doors for help.
After Yolanda, the United Nations and other countries provided help for the restoration of the Eastern Visayas. However, most of their help, cash and goods, did not actually reach the hands of the victims. With this kind of system that the Philippines has, some of our international neighbors are already hesitant to offer help again.
8. It scatters the nation.
It is not only the differences in language, culture, and the number of islands that cause disunity in the Philippines. Because of the existing corruption, the government, which is supposed to be the role model and the public trust, becomes a battleground for administration and opposition. The citizens distrust the traditional leaders and lawmakers, creating more rallies, oppositions and disappointments from the people – and this does not help.
9. It is the curse which hinders progress.
Originally, the Philippines is rich in natural resources and before the Spanish era, the native Filipinos were living in peace and abundance. We also have a pool of competitive human resources, as lots of Filipinos are able to prove their abilities worldwide. Furthermore, during earlier regimes, this country was considered to be among the tiger economies in Asia. Meaning, the Philippines has all it takes to progress. However, because of the rampant corruption which deprives the Filipinos the opportunities and development they need to succeed, the country is limited to poor chances.
What we can do
The Philippines is unfortunate to have corrupt politicians. It’s an undeniable fact. We cannot be proud of it; we cannot smile about it! We have to be realistic rather than delusional. But although it’s a negative thing that we have to face, we should also be hopeful and continue fighting corruption in our country!
It is proven that Filipinos are strong. No calamity can stop the Philippines from rising again. However, if corruption will not be cut, then there will be no progress. As a concerned citizen, you can do something to help change the future of our country. The first step is by using your right to vote responsibly. Vote buying? It is the first sign that the potential candidate will be robbing from the treasury. Therefore, if you want to stop corruption, then help fight it by actively campaigning against vote buying and other election cheating schemes. If all Filipinos would do the same and participate in this campaign, then hope for the Philippines is on its way.
“I believe that the President should set the example of a big heart, an honest mind, sound instincts, the virtue of healthy impatience and an abiding love for the common man.” -Ramon Magsaysay