How to stop corruption as a regular citizen according to my economics teacher

I’ve been thinking about this idea since the national elections last year, since the Napoles issue and Pork Barrel scam. I tried explaining it to someone but I didn’t have the desired effect for I cannot put into words my thoughts and it ends up wrong in so many ways. And then out of nowhere, during one of our regular, passive class in Macoeconomics, Mr.  Cledera digressed and asked how we, as students can stop corruption. As usual, everyone stared blankly at him.

He said the answer is to stop condoning and tolerating those who are corrupt. I know the relatives and children of trapo politicians are not entirely liable but we, as regular citizens, should show them that it’s not okay. He then proceeded to give classic examples.

Filipinos being friendly and all, I’m sure almost all of us know someone who is a friend or relative of a government official. And though it’s not true, for the sake of simplicity, let us assume that all government officers steal money from public funds and use it for private pleasures. If this friend of yours asks to bring you home in his father’s new badass car which, 90% of the time comes from the taxes you pay, then instead of being all giddy with the prospect of being cool riding a Hummer, you should (politely) decline. Show them it’s not okay. If Napoles’ daughter, by some chance is your classmate, do not accept anything from her. Not even lunch, not a single dime. Show her you know it is dirty money.

If the politician’s family invites you for dinner in the country’s most expensive eat-all-you-can buffet, instead of bragging about it on Facebook, decline and say you’d prefer to eat in a carinderia because if not, you become part of it. The fresh oysters you will enjoy, the expensive chocolates, all of them are bought with dirty money.

That’s one problem with us Filipinos, we tend to worship those who have money even if some of them basically just robbed from us. We follow them on Instagram, talk about them, give them the opportunity to grace our commencement exercises, listen to their speeches, salivate over their new acquisitions, desperately try to be their friends, enjoy the perks of being in their circle, and accept their bribe in the form of help (hello solicitation letters). We envy and want to have what they have and then console ourselves with a pat on the back while saying at least we are not corrupt. Well, I hate to break it to you but we’re not helping with the solution. And we are all guilty at one point or another.

One of my favorite writers Jessica Zafra once pointed out that the main reason for corruption is the Filipinos being so family-oriented, they steal to provide for their loved ones. It’s a food web instead of a chain. Imagine if we stop wanting to be part of their class instead of turning a blind eye. Imagine your friend coming to his father the Congressman to ask him to stop being corrupt because it’s bad and dirty. Now multiply this scene by a thousand, or ten thousand.

If we treat them (or their money at least) the way they really are: greedy SOBs, maybe it wouldn’t end corruption (just like what 99.9% of Pinoys say, it’s already part of the system) but at least, we can show them that the system is unacceptable. We’ll start from there.

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