Is the Philippines Becoming a Nation of Cheaters?
Are we a nation of cheaters? It seems we never run out of news about cheating in the Philippines. Way back then, the perception was that only government officials and employees were prone to cheating.
Fast forward a decade. We shout in the streets against cheating – everyone else cheats, but us. Really? Is that so?
Cheating at the Macro Level
What a difference a year makes.
In 2009, the Philippines was the sixth most corrupt country in Southeast Asia out of based on the PERC scorecard. In 2010, the score has changed for the worse – to the fourth most corrupt country in Southeast Asia. The hopeless optimists will be glad to point out that the rank is better than that of 2008 when the Philippines was seen as THE MOST CORRUPT COUNTRY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA.
You can read the executive summary here:
Note the PERC’s outlook on the Philippines:
There will not be much headway in reducing systemic problems like corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency, especially in countries like India, the Philippines and Indonesia. In most cases, what you see is what you will get. Where there will be changes for the better are in cross-Strait’s commercial relations between China and Taiwan and an emphasis on cooperation between the major powers of Northeast Asia (China, Korea and Japan).
I am not surprised by the PERC consulting groups assessment because it was the same assessment I made when I said Noynoy is wrong on corruption. Administrative reform measures can only do so much – and are ineffective in the face of systemic corruption.
Given the plethora of laws and talks about law enforcement, and the number of law enforcers – the Philippines is still in the lowest the rankings of Transparency International. While the Philippines CPI rose from #141 in 2008 to #139 in 2009, it makes one weep to see where the Philippines’ ASEAN counterparts are in list – South Korea at #39, Malaysia at #56, Indonesia at #111, Vietnam at #120!
In the case of the Philippines, corruption is no longer petty but systemic as well. Therefore, administrative reform which focuses on “the strict enforcement of anticorruption laws on one hand, and on the other, the provision of “sufficient means” for government employees to be able to fend for their families. ” IS NOT ENOUGH, does not address systemic corruption.
To paraphrase Klitgaard – “When corruption does become systemic, as it is in the Philippines, the usual anticorruption measures are insufficient. Not obsolete, to be sure: there will always be a need to raise consciousness about corruption’s costs and to make the institutions of state and market less vulnerable to corruption. But we also need new thinking about new modes of action by new sorts of actors that can faciliate joint efforts to subvert corruption”.
And now, we have another rehash from Noynoy – ““We have good laws [that punish and prevent graft and corruption]. All we need to do is enforce those laws,” ” – WTF, it’s a sirang plaka that just wouldn’t give up till you get a sledgehammer and smash it to pieces.
Noynoy is right on the issue of administrative/institutional anti-corruption measures – but so is everyone else – that means Gordon, Villar, Perlas, and all Pinoys who have felt the brunt of petty corruption. For short, Noynoy does not have a monopoly of the corruption issue.
To reiterate what I said then – it is not enough to implement reforms, the existing relationships that make up the socio economic foundations of Philippine society need to be addressed and changed so that more economic opportunities are available to the widest number of citizens thereby decreasing the systemic pressure to resort to corruption.
Cheating at the Micro Level
We are so quick to take offense about corruption in government And yet we take a lot of other things for granted, for example:
We Cheat In School
It doesn’t matter – elementary, high school, college, Masters – we cheat.
We cheat in the board exams – not just in the nursing board. Actually the nursing board is just the latest casualty. The Engineering, CPA, Medical, Lawyers board exams – all of those professions have their share of cheating. So much so that, nudging those rates from passing to failure has supposedly become a cottage industry in the PRC.
Consider all the top professional review centers – someone somewhere always knows a board examiner, or a leakage which insures that reviewees get the latest questions and be assured of a high score, even become a top notcher.
The thing is when these so-called “professionals” are screened (as in the Visa Screen for nurses) – they will get in trouble. Unfortunately, it casts doubt on us who took the exams fair and square. Worse, the credibility of our professionals sink rather quick.
Whether it’s the school exams, quizzes. We’d rather be “in” and known as someone who is “pakisama” instead of doing the right thing. And so we agree to cooperate, to turn a blind eye, to keep our lips sealed, to pretend nothing happened. Who the hell are we kidding – we were cheating – ALL OF US.
We Cheat In Sports
The more memorable ones included the 1992 Little League World Series where we fielded overaged players. Al Mendoza, a Filipino journalist blew the whistle.
Six true Zamboangueños were over-age, at least one as old as 15, and thus ineligible. It was discovered that, as with the eight non-district players, the fraud had been maintained by the players’ assumption of identities of (eligible) players who had represented the city at the national championships, the families of whom were reportedly willing to reveal all, jealous of the prizes bestowed upon the players who had used their sons’ identities to represent their country at the Far East and World Series. In some cases, even the parents of the ineligible players assumed appropriate identities to maintain the appearance of propriety. Nocum, seemingly backing Andaya’s assertion that the substitutes were not chosen to artificially inflate the team’s performance, was reported later as saying that had the original Zamboanga City team participated in the World Series, they would have trounced Long Beach by far more runs.
In an interesting post-script, Zamboanga City was disqualified from the Filipino national titles the very next year in another over-age player scandal.
What’s worse is that a lot of Filipinos were angry at Mendoza for blowing the whistle. Susmaryosep.
Consider our PRISAA/UAAP – how many of those athletes are true students and not over-aged? I do understand that there are second coursers – but when you have for example, a men’s basketball team where the players have been at it for 10 to 20 years – that’s no longer a student, that’s a professional student whose sole purpose is to win games for the school. That’s still cheating, butwe sure do cheer from the sidelines when the dude sinks a hoop – we know he is over age, we know it is cheating, but hey, we keep on clapping.
We Cheat In the Workplace
Our penchant for cheating in the workplace is something else.
We steal office supplies. We come in super late. We time out super early. We moonlight on company time. We have ghost employees – on top of the 15-30 employees. We have two accounting journals – one for the BIR, and one that shows how much money we actually made. We under-declare our taxes – and that’s being “good” because more often than not, we are evading taxes. We cut corners like crazy. We adulterate products. We make the taxi meters run faster than they should.
Huh… we cry foul when public officials cheat – but somehow, we, Juan de la Cruz get some sordid satisfaction in getting away with stuff. Isn’t that convenient – and hypocritical?
The list goes on and on.
We Cheat in Elections
Of course, the Philippine elections is the superbowl of cheating. As fellow AP blogger ilda commented
It turns out that automated machines are not foolproof. Reports abound of machines malfunctioning, machines found kept in someone’s shed, the discrepancies in time lapsed, and allegations of malicious software installed in the machine itself.
Lesson learned: Filipinos cannot be trusted with both manual and automated election. Filipinos are very resourceful at finding a way to cheat.
Some people just never know when to stop. Attempting to cheat an automated system actually makes detection a lot easier. Can you imagine if the counting was done manually – it would have taken a longer time to track and trace the variance. When the time to run the numbers is shorter, I’d wager that it will make spotting spikes and abnormalities rather quicker.
Whether it’s the government, in school, in the workplace, at home, or in the elections – we cheat.
And for that – we have all this sh*t.
C’mon guys and gals – haven’t we made the connection yet – in the end, the cheats wind up with sh*t. And you thought that the nice guys finish last. Singapore’s definitely saying no to that – it pays to be nice, to be honest, to be straight.
It is a crying shame – the Philippines is not just reduced to an idiocracy, but it is becoming a nation of cheats.
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