Money, the bane of this country
Not for the lack of it. It is due to having so much of it. We are referring to the politicians. They have lots of it. In between elections, incumbent politicians stash a lot of cash for the next campaign. Because electoral “winnability” is directly proportional to the amount in a candidate’s war chest. If it is empty, his votes will be very few. If it is brimming with cash and he knows how to use it to buy votes, he will surely win.
So there are ghost public works projects everywhere. At best, what the people get are substandard infrastructure or goods or equipment in government offices. And if what was requisitioned were ten units of equipment, what will be delivered will be half of that or even less.
It happens because the auditing system is very flawed or the auditors themselves were bought or are part of the syndicate. As we often said, in other climes, if you want to join a lucrative criminal syndicate like the “mafia” then you join the local or national mafia. In the Philippines, you join the government—either as an elected official or as a bureaucrat.
Of late, the government auditors have become quite strict as they were afraid of PDu30’s ire. They, however, swung to the extreme opposite side of the pendulum and became very strict. So much so that many government projects stalled or could not even get off the ground. This prompted PDu30 to say that he wanted to kill them. So how should government auditors act? Perhaps they have to strike the right balance. They should be strict enough not to allow corruption to hold sway, but reasonable enough not to stop the government or contractors from moving or progressing.
But back to money during elections. It used to be that one did not need so much money to win an election in the Cordillera. What the local politicians then could afford were a few match boxes (posporo) and some candies. And that was all the people expected. The corruption however improved over the years. Some kilos of rice and a can of cheap sardines became the norm. The rice however became sacks with a number of canned goods. Until big cash was expected by the people for every vote. So it was said that in Abra, a family of six expects to receive enough cash to put up a down payment for a tricycle, if not pay its whole price if they opted for a used one.
In the lowlands, it is even worse. The money to buy votes is usually given to the barangay captain to distribute. He could actually just keep it for himself. But the consequence would be dire. His body could be found buried somewhere or floating on a river. At least, we have not yet reached that devilish point in the Cordillera, except in Abra which is lowlandish in many ways.
Politicians everywhere, however, can be stupid, even with all the money they have amassed. They are stupid enough to think that they are beyond the reach of their bad karma. One political kingpin of a Cordilleran province, for instance, who was a master crook and always won elections suddenly keeled over due to a heart attack. Thereafter his family were nothing in politics. They even started selling whatever assets they had in order to survive. His daughter even started to battle an affliction of the cancer variety.
So many corrupt politicians ended this way.**