Vote for the trustworthy
"We deserve nothing less."
A Social Weather Stations Survey commissioned by independent think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute through its project Democracy Watch revealed that Filipino voters first and foremost look for one thing in their senatorial candidate: Those who won’t be corrupt. More than fulfilling promises (14 percent) or the ability to provide solutions to the country’s problems (9 percent) or leadership qualities (6 percent) or faith in god (5 percent), more people preferred candidates who “will not be corrupt” (25 percent) and who are trustworthy (21 percent). The findings cut across geographic areas and between the urban and rural divides. Respondents from the National Capital Region, the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who said they are looking for candidates “who will not be corrupt” constitute 25, 26, 27, and 22 percent, respectively. This is hardly surprising, of course. According to a 2014 report by Global Financial Integrity, some $410 billion, or around P19.34 trillion, had been lost to corruption in the Philippines over a 52-year period between 1960 and 2011. For perspective, this staggering amount translates to the country’s annual budget for social services like health and education dozens upon dozens of times over. Whatever deficiency or lack or dysfunction in our schools and hospitals and roads, one of the culprits is corruption. The sentiment is also fueled by a pervasive perception of government service as a breeding ground for corrupt practices. Lists of corrupt leaders throughout history routinely include Philippine politicians occupying the highest positions of power. Corruption scandals are part and parcel of prime-time news, and it takes something huge, like the pork barrel scam engineered by Janet Napoles, to really shake us from our complacency. As a result, there seems to be a collective disdain for political leaders, who are by and large perceived to be corrupt and untrustworthy. “Filipinos always call for reducing poverty, creating more jobs, and fighting graft and corruption,” said Dindo Manhit, Lead Convenor of Democracy Watch and resident of Stratbase ADRI. “None of these concerns come as a surprise since they effect the daily life of every Filipino.” The results also stem from a pervasive dissatisfaction as regards how our institutions are combating corruption. Stratbase ADRI said that since the passage of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the plunder law has only convicted one public official; the rest who had been accused, including former senators, were either pardoned, acquitted, or, worst of all, remain on trial but still for some reason have the gall to run for office. “This raises the question, are the anti-corruption laws in the Philippines strong enough to keep public officials in check of their duty? If not, then shouldn’t we elect officials who show integrity?” Manhit said.