SYMBIOTIC CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES

If you ever had the experience of taking a public utility vehicle in the Philippines, this is likely familiar to you:

The jeepney or bus driver violates a traffic rule. A traffic enforcer comes out of hiding and accost the driver. The Driver scratches his head and mouths some expletives, saying “I didn’t see the  buwaya  hiding there”. “Buwaya or Crocodile” is how we describe police and traffic enforcers who extort  or take bribes from drivers who violate traffic rules whether for real or imagined. The driver tries to make excuses for the violation, which the traffic enforcer is unlikely to accept. An inconvenienced passenger shouts “bigyan mo na kasi!”(give him money already!) which also means bribe him already. The driver slips in a hundred peso or more depending on the violation and the traffic enforcers lets him go. One passenger blames the driver for the wrong thing, saying “if you gave him money right away, we wouldn’t have experienced the delay” when the correct blame should be, if he didn’t violate the traffic rule, we wouldn’t have experienced that delay.
And then we complain about the corruption in the traffic management system of the country and the government as a whole.

This little situation is a microcosm of a larger system of corruption in the Philippine Society. We are angered by government officials who steal but could not do away with them. A lot of us are afraid to operate in a cleaner system because it means, no bailout from traffic violations, piracy, tax evasion, profiteering and crime against people and properties. It means no way to beat the system through shortcuts, no special favors and no patronage.

This is symbiotic corruption. A corrupt government that feeds on the corruption of the society that cannot exist in the same way without a corrupt government. We need a new kind of symbiosis.

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2 Comments

  1. Totally, totally agree! That’s why I am so against paying the cop because I feel that will deprive me of the right to complain about corruption. I want to keep that right, and if I have to go through the inconvenience of going to a bank to pay for my fine, it would still be worth it.

  2. It’s much deeper than that! My poor country! Poor, not because we don’t have money, but rather, because we have lost our moral fiber! Hence, symbiotic corruption! 😦


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