Katipunero: a member of the Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng Pilipinas, a revolutionary group of the 1800s; a Filipino who continues to fight unjust and corrupt structures in society.

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Location: Loyola House of Studies, Quezon City, Philippines

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

We Did It Again!

Corruption, as defined by Peter Eigen, the Chairperson of Transparency International is "the abuse of entrusted power for private benefit and is as such conducive to severe political, economic and social costs." TI's Chief Executive, David Nussbaum adds that, "corruption isn't a natural disaster: It is the cold, calculated theft of
opportunity from the men, women and children who are least able to protect themselves."

These are very prophetic words. It is as if these words were directed at the political managers of our country. We did it again! We are one of the top raters when it comes to corruption. In TI's latest Corruption Perception Index Report, the Philippines was rated 2.5, down from last year's rating of 2.6. But let us not be deceived by the 0.1 difference. It may seem insignificant. However, when taken in context, this is not joking matter. Consider the following:

1. we are one of the 70 countries that rated 3 and below;
2. we dropped from 102 last year to 117th place this year;
3. we ranked 11th among 159 countries when it comes to perceived corruption.

Now, this is not joking matter. And to add insult to injury, just recently, the Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the EVAT. The President says that we need the EVAT to earn more revenues for the government as it works on the economy that is "poised for take-off." The question is, isn't the VAT Law enough to raise the needed revenues? Have we fully exploited the opportunities for revenues offered by the VAT Law. And if we have, how much of the revenues really went to government projects and not to personal accounts?

The crux of the matter is that we have a perceived thief who is defending the EVAT. This will definitely hurt the ordinary Filipino who will not be able to defend himself from the ravages of the EVAT Law. And will these revenues really be used to prime our economy? When will the benefits trickle down to the poor? When they are about to be buried in their graves? When their children have missed the opportunity to educate themselves and have grown to be uneducated and therefore, more defenseless?

Why aren't we bothered? Why is it that only a few people are complaining? Why is it that only a handful are putting up a fight? Have we grown weary and hopeless?


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