December 9 is International Anti-Corruption Day, an international commemoration that highlights how corruption is an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Corruption is an age-old practice where people in power abuse the trust given them by their constituents, to further personal gain. Alas, this personal gain costs others their freedom, health, life and future.
Corruption, too, is not limited to poor societies or weak institutions. Even rich nations suffer from corruption, albeit in less obvious or perceptible ways. Wherever it occurs, it hurts the poor because it deprives them of basic services that should be delivered to them.
What is amazing is that the effects of corruption are known and even obvious. And yet people in power continue to do it.
Even more amazing is that people who are adversely affected by it continue to accept it as a way of life just because it has always been done and for as long as progress is still attained, however slowly.
Here at home, President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed that he would not hesitate to fire government officials, even his allies and his appointees, at the slightest “whiff of corruption.” We believe this is a laudable principle, even as we think the administration could do more in showing its sincerity and will. For instance, no more recycling, transfer or even promotion of those previously removed.
Corruption at the local level is harder to detect, and combat. This is where conscious action by individuals and citizen groups in general would be vital in telling those in power that their office is not a fiefdom or a personal turf, but an opportunity to serve.
Today we are reminded that while there is so much good in the world, there are many things that could be immensely better if not for the entrenched evil of corruption. The solutions are difficult and slow to yield results, but they are not impossible.