"Corruption is bound to remain as long as there is human discretion in government transactions."
Corruption at the Department of Public Works and Highways is nothing new. Santa Banana, in my more than seven decades as a journalist, I would even rank this agency among the three most corrupt departments in government!
If you still see roads leading nowhere, or unfinished bridges, these are proof of corruption. Every year, as the national budget is deliberated at the House of Representatives, there are always so-called insertions. These insertions are the pork barrel funds of lawmakers. “Right of way” is also another road toward corruption.
Since pork barrel has been outlawed by the Supreme Court, the allocations that run into the billions of pesos are called lump sum funds instead.
In a recent study of corruption at the DPWH, it has been found that this goes all the way from the bottom to the top. And no matter how honest and well-meaning the department secretaries are, public works corruption remains unabated.
I recall the time my former classmate Vicente Jayme was public works secretary. I know him to be one of the most honest public officials there ever was. In less than a year, he resigned. I asked him why, and he said he could not stomach the corruption in that agency.
Ask the contractors involved in public works. They will tell you why corruption cannot be eradicated. I believe that corruption will be there as long as there is human discretion and intervention in government processes.
Transactions happen behind closed doors. Often, contractors themselves form alliances to ensure a contract. When the contractor does not comply, nothing happens.
Here’s what I heard: When public officials ask for a kickback of 15 percent, they are deemed gentle. The really greedy ones are those who rake in 30 percent.
So, can corruption ever be stopped? I don’t think so. It is too embedded in the system.
My attention was caught by a survey that found more than 7 million Filipinos do not wash their hands regularly. Note that there are three basic requirements to fight COVID-19: wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing of hands.
How can the poor wash their hands if they don’t even water to drink? They don’t even have toilets, Santa Banana!
Local governments should provide handwashing facilities especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. LGUs should also find a way to prevent squatters from using the esteros as their toilet. Meanwhile, the Department of Education should make sure that children are taught to wash their hands frequently.
At least there is a bit of good news during this pandemic. China’s candidate for the vaccine has been cleared by a panel of experts for Phase 3 clinical trials in the Philippines possibly by next month, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The pharmaceutical company is called Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
But even as the vaccine could be ready soon, are Filipinos ready for it? My gulay, does our government have enough funds to buy and then distribute it?
As for me, I will only be ready if our family doctor says so.
A study listed London, Paris and Hong Kong as walkable cities. I can believe that. Meanwhile, Metro Manila has a lot of catching up to do. In fact, there are hardly any sidewalks here.