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.


Impoverished Mind

What is worse than being impoverished?
To have an impoverished mind
To be afraid of losing everything when one has so much
To feel no satisfaction in having plenty
To keep an unfair share of the profit
To grab what is not one’s own
To steal from the government
To steal, worse, to steal from the already poor
To pretend to care about the poor while one robs them blind
To feign righteousness by going to church for show while masterminding crime against others
To be involved in civic actions as a front for stealing
To feed one’s family with the product of one’s thievery
To destroy the future in order to indulge in today
To cling to power at all cost including one’s own soul
To find fairness in being unfair
To call evil good
To serve as a pawn of evil
To have so much power and use it for evil
To look the other way because of the benefits of evil and inconvenience and cost of doing good
To be apathetic to all of these
Such are the products of impoverished thinking
We hate it but don’t hate it well enough and that is why impoverished thinking is more the norm rather than the exception in our impoverished society.