GRAFT and corruption, crime, poverty – all were called standard issues of the day by the late Renato Constantino who lamented the miseducation of Filipinos and introduced in his writings the needed national consciousness that will be able to root out the causes of all these social problems.
The most common causality series is “graft and corruption cause poverty and poverty causes crime.” Culprits are not only public officials but also private persons who are as guilty for being abettors by commission or omission in many ways.
Come election time, graft and corruption emerge as the favorite issue against incumbents. It is one thing that easily spoils what goodwill and trust have been built with constituents. It negates whatever good policies and programs have been put into place.
There is no single administration in the country that remained unsullied by graft and corruption. And that would include even the present one whose leader himself on several occasions indicated it.
It is a social cancer that feeds on greed and apathy and attacks the very core of our will as one Filipino people and nation. It debases democratic life and promotes mendicancy of the poor sadly even at times when the vote remains the only peaceful and lawful means to fight it.
However, fighting graft and corruption is only one battle front in the war against poverty. One decisive front is within the realm of consciousness that has something to do with how we value our nation as a whole community of Filipinos with shared interest and ownership of the country’s wealth, both natural and man-made.
Graft and corruption not only mean making money using entrusted public positions and stealing people’s money. It is also about exploiting people’s impoverishment in both material things and knowledge to undermine and even sell national patrimony in crafting government policies and setting priorities.
Fighting graft and corruption should not only target guilty persons but also the culture of greed and mendicancy and the politics of patronage that nurture it. Those without proven virtues that have survived the test of time cannot champion this cause. Those who are unaware or miseducated about what values our nation was built on cannot possibly develop those virtues and lead for real change and inclusive development with resolve.
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