Corruption is a bottoms-up incentive plan

Janet Napoles was a skilled Incentive Payout Manager for the Philippine Human Resources Department? [Photo source: Rappler]

By JoeAm

It struck me that the line between legal incentive payments and illegal corruption is rather narrow, ill-defined, and even hazy.

Not too many people get real incentive payments in the Philippines, that is exceptional salary add-ons for exceptionally productive work. The incentives that exist, a 13th month for everybody, don’t incent anything but anger if they are withheld.

Pay scales in the Philippines are rock bottom. Yet people want the things that rich people have, like cars. People must pay going international prices for them. Cars aren’t built with low-cost Filipino labor. So people have to come up with some extra cash.

And the poor, man they just need a motorcycle and a good meal. 4,000 pesos a month doesn’t buy that.

So a whole lot of people figure out ways to incent themselves. They become fixers, or rig their scales, or collect little bribes, or steal stuff. If they are congressmen they get large local budgets they can control and use for a little spiff on the side. Or a big one, if possible.

When you look at it through a different prism, all corruption is is an incentive program driven from the bottom up.

People are held with respect if they can run a good scam. They are not jailed or scorned. And if the scam is as large as Imelda’s, it’s like a stay out of jail free card, and queenly respect.

I suppose extraordinary rationalists like Secretary Locsin would say, “Hey, money is money, and if it circulates in the Philippines, who cares who gets it and spends it.”

Well, yes, there is some truth to that. But the problem is that buying an inept congressmen a fancy car and elegant home is not as beneficial to the nation as paying a talented computer person money to automate the Customs tracking system. The car does nothing for the nation. The computer analyst creates millions worth of value.

Padding Bong Revilla’s bank account or feeding 10,000 kids so their growth is not stunted and their brains can do schoolwork? It’s a choice.

Therein lies the rub in the hypothetical Locsin argument, money is not just money no matter how it is generated. Good managers make sure money is spent to highest and best uses.

How can Government get competence into the Philippines? Pay international wages to get it.

Bottoms up incentive plans don’t build excellence into their system. They get you the Philippines as it is today, and always has been, inept, argumentative, and far from prosperous.

Until some genius politician figures out how to organize a LEGAL, top-down incentive program that gets top dollars paid to highly competent and productive managers and technology experts, the nation will just muddle along, recycling poorly spent money and pretending everything is peachy keen. Pretending that this is a legitimate way to run a nation when it is perhaps best described as a “shambles”.


47 Responses to “Corruption is a bottoms-up incentive plan”
  1. Excellent and concise as usual, Joe. My comments:

    1) I have always said the few Filipinos understand “Win-Win”. Too many zero-sum games. TRAIN includes tax amnesties, probably the many upper middle class folks who voted Duterte will cheer, those who MLQ3 described as the EDSA 2 crowd craving to become the new oligarchy but failing. Instead of voting a government that invests in long-term progress, a truly “Singaporean” model, one where you can walk in the streets and take public transport safely, enjoy life more, not just MONEY.

    2) Real expertise is not understood by many Filipinos. international competence might be mistaken for some as speaking good or nice-sounding English, even meaningless English like Miss Earth Philippines Celeste Cortesi. Post-colonial thinking, not modern thinking. The opposite pole of that being those who think anyone can do any job, the mindset behind the Duterte government. Milk experts for what they are worth, shortchange them, get rid of them – maybe even kill them like what happened to Heneral Luna – and exchange with with mediocracy once “no longer needed”, then..

    3) Long-term investment is also not understood by the barangay mind (c) chempo which thinks only in terms of nipa huts you can rebuild when the storm blows them away. My grandfather, certainly a good lawyer in his day and otherwise not a fool I am sure, ran his tricycle fleet to ruins because he only wanted to make money and rarely invested in maintenance. My father let the VW my mother once bought in Manila (with money from international interpreter jobs in Singapore) rot once we left, and sold it when he needed money. Diskarte is “cool”, maintenance is “square” as Mar Roxas. 😉

    4) The assumption is of course that everybody steals, nobody is honest. So many a Filipino will vote the dishonest if he/she can benefit from them. The old utang na loob system which helps you get favors and jobs. Sereno’s top computer expert for the SC? I guess kickbacks is what many think.

    5) Of course the utang na loob system assumes all favors and obligations are personal. Recently I found how the transition to states must have happened in Indonesia – there are place where the datus became bound to kingdoms by “sumpa” (same word as in Filipino, oath). This is the kind of aspect that might interest Francis. Though the Philippines is probably going to take a step back to 1521 and worse with the kind of Federalism Arroyo is pushing for. All sumpa will be personalized. Stealing from an abstract entity like the government? Who cares? Just don’t steal from your datu!

    • Thanks for the elaboration of exactly how the bottoms-up incentive program actually works. One would think that people are well enough educated to understand competence, and how they pay the price for not getting much of it. But it appears not to be the case. Or else they are sold on the idea that it is someone else’s job to fix it.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Many want to become government employees that are covered by GSIS or those with pensions that equal their pay. So our treasuries get depleted even without corruption.

      Then we go federal, more agencies will be created, more beuracratic red tape and a more bloated bureacracy.

      Train is just peanuts with the new taxes that will happen with a Federal government.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Last night’s newssaid the impounding area in Metro Manila are full so MMDA suspended towing.
    With people moving to smaller places how can you have a 2-3 car garage? Some don’t even have a garage. For condos parking slots are costly maybe 6 – 7 figures.

    Yet we do not want to get rid of our old vehicles until they can no longer be repaired then we buy new ones.

    When you claim the Impunded vehicle, the next day it will be towed again because of no parking space.

    We are on repair economy now because who ever thought of planned obsolescence made disposable cell phones, tablets,appliances, vehicles, etc.

    Someone wants to lower retirement age to 56 yet our pension funds are about to disappear.
    Way to go

    • Our local LPO lot is overrun with impounded motorcycles, generally because people buy them but don’t register them.

    • chemrock says:

      I thought the ‘no carpark no car’ applies to new purchases? Retrospective law is not allowed in Philippines, as in almost all countries.

      So what happens to businesses that operate in premises that don’t have carparks?

      Restricting vehicular growth is a problem many cities struggle with. But has to be done with proper studies and implemented with a well thought out action plan with desirable and measureable outcomes.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Correct the no car park applies to new vehicles, meaning get rid of your old vehicles first, you do that by selling it, and selling it for scrap is almost never an option if it still runs.

        As in best laid plans of mice and men, the PITX transfer station seemed like a good idea but it failed and the lack of public consultation blame game is on again.

        public consultation is what about us, not how can we contribute in the solution.
        True, it does not eliminate traffic in Metro even with total compliance, because it will require more smaller Vans, and jeeps for the transferring passengers.

        • chemrock says:

          You mean new purchases and not new cars? new purchases means anyone buying a car, does’nt matter it’s new or secondhand car.

          If it applies to new cars only, does that mean one can purchase a second car even though buyer has no carpark?

          • karlgarcia says:

            You are correct, I read Gathalian’s bill and it pertains to new purchases.

            The economy still need second hand vehicles that are on good condition.

            I appreciate your corrections and clarifications, I learn a lot.

            Concerning PITX

            The people live in Cavite meaning they are supposed to have solved the overcrowding of metro residents, the thing is they still work in Metro Manila.

            Unlike let say you live in Jersey or North East, going to New York is easier if I believe what I read and watch, here transportation is never easy.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    We automate then the employee of that establishment, corporation or institution will get angry because of historic precedents of loss of job security.

    Disruptions must allow continuity and make sure the inconvenience remains temporary.
    What happens in disruptions are life changing like you lose your job and you switch careers if you are lucky enough.

    One interviewee of Wil, (was it Diokno or Tañada?) wants to remove regional wage boards.
    The problem usually is cost of living due to several factors like source and distance of services of goods among many other reasons.

    Some want to lower minimum wage because they are just SMEs or even micro.
    So many violate the SSS,philhealth housing remittance law just not to violate the minimum wage law.

    I still have not discussed corruption. maybe later as a reaction to comments.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    My comment to Sup about Legarda : Good intentions on paper before the paper trail.
    Maybe I am singling out Legarda, but she is the most prominent activist of her advocacies, Imee Marcos is just starting to outdo her and is fast about it.

  5. Micha says:

    Totally disagree with this assessment.

    Corruption, the kind which is consequential to public good, that which drains not only the wealth and resources of the nation but more importantly its soul, originates from the top.

    Petty corruption that you observe in the bottom is merely the after effect, the feedback loop if you may, of the perversion that descends from the top.

    Generally, Pinoys are honest, decent, hardworking folks until they saw the Marcosian scale of corruption and from there the whole values and ethics thing, especially in the public domain, spirals downhill to where it is now.

    Janet Napoles, a commoner from the province, merely saw an opportunity to cash in on the endemic and pervasive corruption that permeates in the halls of power.

    • I don’t see the disagreement. For sure, I agree with you, and you recognize the malaise that has set in across the economic spectrum, originating, I agree, from the top. Which is why my proposed solution, change the pay grades and incentive programs at the top . . . and the demands for performance . . . at the top . . . so the need for pork goes away and we can focus, across the economic spectrum, on proper rewards for proper work. If you disagree with that as a solution, you need to offer a counter-proposal that makes more sense as a solution. Not just recognized the endemic and pervasive corruption.

      • Micha, the big shots that the AFP send to Mindanao become landlords of Mindanao and the higher ups in Manila end up needing them, thus the payments.

        When it comes to women in power or in corruption scandals always look behind them to the men, either husbands or brothers. That is basic Anthropology right there , no true matriarchies in humans (elephants maybe and other animals), but not humans.

        Strong corrupt women, see father, grandfather, husband, brother (or driver lol 😉 )

  6. chemrock says:

    Whether it’s top-down per Micha or bottom-up per Joe, corruption is corruption, searching for a blame is futile. Corruption is the nature of human weakness and it exists everywhere in the world because men are weak. It is there in the Vatican City, it is there in squeaky clean Singapore.

    The underlying causes are greed, often in the case of corruption in the upper crust of the society, and poverty, as in the case of the wretched lower class. But in countries with higher discipline and moral sense, the poor contends to live in dignity with hands out of other people’s kitties. Filipinos’ broken moral compass is the cause, poverty is the excuse. (Just in case I be excused of ivory tower speak, let it be known my early life was in a wooden abode with raw Earth for flooring and dried coconut leaves for roof. Even in adult life there were spans of time I had not a penny in my pocket or bank account. So I know what poverty is like).

    Corruption is unavoidable. But when it reaches endemic level, as per Micha, it bogs down the economy. Prof Syed Hussein Alatas of Malaysia wrote a book on corruption in our part of the world sometime in 1986. He drew a parallel of the level of corruption to the economic development of the country. At the time, he pictured Indonesian corruption as endemic (which it was) which explained the deep problems Suharto’s government was having. He indexed Malaysia as corrupt but not endemic. As for Philippines, it was near endemic. Well, Philippines trajectory was foreseen by the good professor.

    In my 10 years in Philippines, I saw corruption up close and personal. To all those who think hey our management is stupid, they don’t know what’s happening. All businessmen understands the situation perfectly. They simply cost corruption into their business and this goes into the price of goods and services. Every corporation has a huge item in their tax returns called “Representation”. That is an account of sin. That this account of plain open admission of sin is tax-allowed is a testament of national acceptance. I have seen auditors and tax assessors and the way they work, and boy do they amaze me. The little sign we paste outside the office door “Tax-mapped” is a notice to their colleague — “sorry you’re too late, I’ve milked this cow”.The cost of corruption in business is also reflected in processes to safeguard assets. And so we see 6 cashiers at a counter in malls, accounting processes unnecessarily segregated to ridiculous levels, all these to make collaboration necessary for hanky panky adventurism; security guards eyeballing internal staff instead of suspicious customers, etc. The most costly part is the need for micro managing by management. In management we say you must be able to delegate. In Philippines, we say you micro manage, you survive. The delegator and his money are soon separated.

    Businessmen have kind words for Filipinos. By most accounts, Filipinos are good people, just don’t put temptation in the way.

    • edgar lores says:


      1. What strikes me is the brazenness.

      2. What appalls me is the conditioning.

      3. What sickens me is the injustice.

      4. What terrifies me is that there is no way out.

      • “I’ve elected not to publish your commentary on prostitutes in the Philippines. It seems, I dunno, ‘judgmental’ in a racially demeaning way, and I don’t care for that representation in a blog edited by an American who does not care to offend in his host country.”

        Sorry, Joe.

        Lemme try it again, w/out being too abrasive. But I think this particular input is one that hasn’t been posited before, thus adds to the discussion, yours and Micha’s and chemp’s are great perspectives on Philippine corruption.

        Here’s mine… more granular, in formula form as to not offend.

        Husbands + prostitutes = corruption

        Wives + servants = corruption

        That’s my observation, essentially I’m saying corruption there seems to start at home, hence more so a domestic issue really.

        Alternately you can formulate it as such,

        Prostitutes + servants = corruption (Supply side)

        Husbands + wives = corruption (Demand side)

        My previous comment (the one that didn’t pass muster) explained more in detail. Hopefully, the above will pass NH’s arithmetic and edgar’s logic.

        I’m suggesting that by focusing on the domestic situation, you’ll lower the Supply side, by lowering the Supply side, you’ll curb corruption over there. Start at home, nip in bud.

        p.s.— I agree all the above is judgmental, they’re my observation, my conclusion and my solution. All mine. But I disagree, nothing demeaning about it at all, but it is specifically from the Philippines, what I saw there.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    Current situation

    Justice system
    -Many are jailed even when most are just supposed to be “processed” some take months to get out some die.
    -Some are not charged but not released and stay in jail
    -Many charged get years before a decision.
    -There are many lawyers but not plenty of judges and courts.
    -Process streamline is shunned.
    -The rich usually get away with plunder even murder.

    -Bloated Bureacracy
    -Process streamline if not shunned gets changed almost every administration.
    -too many processes, too many transactions too many rules and regulations.
    -Petty to big time corruption ( from tooth procurement, to big time infrastructure)

    Private sector
    Can also contribute to corruption by being the favored contractor and subcon of the admin.
    By spending in elections beyond legal ethical and moral standards


    Accepting and giving bribes, non payment of taxes, social security. Penalties, etc


    We may have discussed many, but we need to discuss what we missed and review those we have forgotten.

    • Nice synopsis of the real world situation. The main difficulty is that corruption is so common and it is how people supplement their income. So it is a plank of the applied economy and one that people fight all the way. Appeals for honesty don’t cut it. I would recommend starting with the huge nuggets (national corruption) then work down to the smaller nuggets (local corruption) and then the flakes (common bribes and cheating). Each phase would take three to five years to work through. I’d propose starting as mentioned in the article. Get some serious managers in place who work for big (legal) money, to clear things up, and invest heavily in automation for processing and audit checks. A third government-infrastructure plank (in addition to professional managers and automation) would be law-writing, to clean up the absurdities (get building codes out of national law) and trim down the red tape and conflicted laws.

      How to get Congress to cooperate would be a huge challenge. I’d have to give that some thought, but have no bright ideas right now.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Thanks Joe,
        Law inventory.
        Recodification has been in Pinoy’s First SONA.
        Cooperation from lawmakers must happen. SONAs and certification as urgent, veto threats are not cutting it.

        The Bicam is another problem it is so powerful that it can undermine the efforts of the other members of congress.

      • sonny says:

        “… How to get Congress to cooperate would be a huge challenge. I’d have to give that some thought, but have no bright ideas right now.”

        🙂 Images from history & parasitology:

        – Wily Ulysses and his ’50’ in the belly of a horse;

        – the dead El Cid Campeador propped up rallying his troops;

        – Robin Hood interdicting Sherwood Forest;

        – search for a Thermopylae and make like Leonidas;

        – treat like Trichinosis infestation (seems like an apt metaphor for Philippine condition)

      • karlgarcia says:

        If the congress is uncooperative what about the lobbyists? Some sectors have a strong

        The Real Estate Sector has been lobbying strongly against Land Use.
        Main grievance is they will undermined, shortchanged,under represented and do on including many existing laws to make NaLua useless.

        Click to access TheProposedNLUMA-ACritiqueandCounter-Proposal.pdf

        The Employers have grievances to the Anti-Age discrimination law, saying that their constitutional right to refuse an applicant is removed, and some business related excuses.

        Ben Kritz has a good article telling ECOP that they are wrong.

  8. chemrock says:

    Several general ideas for eradicating corruption have been suggested in the blog and comments. In any functioning system, when corruption is detected, a swift review of processes and quick fix may be applied. Endemic corruption, such as in Philippines, is a Gorgon head. As soon as one snake head is chopped off, another takes its place. A holistic approach is required for any chance of success to tame corruption.

    For a massive problem, classification is a foundational aid to understanding and underlines the strategy or action plan. I see corruption in 3 main areas :
    – Public governance
    – Corporate governance
    – Cultural influences

    The bad news is the eradication of endemic corruption cannot be achieved in a span of 3, 5, or 10 years. There is no short term quick fix. It probably requires at least one generational change. There are just too many things to be done — constitutional, legislative, procurement processes, governing rules and regulations, management etc — all these need to be reviewed and revamped where necessary.

    The good news is post Marcos era, there has been recognition of the big corruption problem by the Executive and efforts have been made to tame the monster. Philippines have worked closely with Transparency International in needs analysis and various studies. In the early 2000’s, TI analysed National Integrity Systems of some countries having high corruption problems. The country report on Philippines NIS was out in 2006. Although dated, much has not changed. For students of Philippines corruption, this makes excellent reading. Here’s the link :

    Click to access NIS_philippines_2006.pdf

    A driving force for anti-corruption initiatives in Philippines is Dr Jesus Estanislao, a one-time Finance Secretary of Cory Aquino. Dr. Estanislao leads two groups of experts focusing on corporate governance and public governance work in the Philippines, namely Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA). ICD and ISA have both done excellent work to raise the standard of governance in the corporate and public sectors. ICD and ISA are NGOs whose projects receive fundings from international anti-corruption governmental programmes.

    In public governance – ISA created the Performance Governance System (PGS), whose standard seeks to improve performance in govt agencies. These standards have been adopted by many central government agencies in the Philippines. This was what Guillermo Luz, Chairman of the Philippine National Competitiveness Council, commented (2012) : “what does the PGS mean for the average Filipino citizen? Two words: savings and quality. For example, progressing through the PGS has improved the ability of government agencies to deliver high quality public works on time and on budget.”

    In corporate governance – ICD worked with CIPE (Center for Private Enterprise) to implement Corporate Governance Scorecard (CGS) — a system that rates companies’ corporate governance practices and ranks these companies on an index. These standards have been applied by many corporations. A demonstration of its effectiveness is seen in the banking industry where governance has improved tremendously as reflected in their credit ratings.

    One aspect of anti-corruption initiative is computerisation, as Joe has also pointed out. Attempts to computerise the most corrupt govt agency, Customs, failed. Twice I think. Way back 2000s the govt worked with Transparancy International to improve systems in PNP. One of the outcome of this was an online crime mapping system. This forces PNP operatives to update their reports fast, and prevent redacting them later. It was first tested in I think the Corderella region and eventually the whole country. You can see them in these links :

    Despite missionary zeal of people like Dr Estanislao, the overall impact of their good work does not seem to have any impact on corruption in Philippines. It is a reflection of what I have personally observed. Filipinos seem to like the feel of doing some work — write a report, sign a deal, install a system — and pat themselves for work well done. The life cycle and continuity of a programme is immaterial. Take the crime mapping system. I’m not sure if it’s working. The bantaykrimen site has a visitor count, just seen how few views they have had.

    So why are attempts to improve corporate and public governance not working? There are of course a thousand reasons, but I would venture 2 major ones :
    – Corrupted personnel, especially of past admins, who are deeply embeded in the system (govt, corporations, media). It’s business as usual for them, and they sabotage any institutional attempts to change for the better.
    – Deep-rooted cultural influences, which brings us to the 3rd classification of corruption.

    There can never be any silver bullet for endemic corruption if cultural influences are not righted. Institutional, process, and systems improvements may be made in public and corporate governance, BUT these are human operated. As long as moral fibres are not straightened out in the human domain, nothing is ever gonna change.

    Is Eugenics the way to change Filipino moral malaise then?

    More importantly, the million peso question is why are Filipinos like that? Why are personal conscience no restraint to corrupt practices? Why do they keep giving votes to plunderers, thieves, murderers, scumbags? Many are the ideas that have been floated here at TSH — poverty, no creative thinking capability, lack of education, etc. I have an idea. At risk of being labelled a racist, I put forth here the possibility of a damaged gene.

    Many years ago, the incumbent PM of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir, wrote a book called “The Malay Delima”. (At the time, I think he was ousted by his party. He was a political rabble-rouser). He was ostracised by his fellow Malays for the book because it was critical of his own Malay race (to which the Filipinos belong). His basic premise was the Malay race is inferior from inbreeding as a result of a lack of family name in their culture. The Malays (and Indonesians and Filipinos) have no family names in the ancient past. Under Arabic Muslim influence, their current names also do not have family names.

    Why is family name important? It helps identify lineage and prevents inbreeding when leads to gene deterioration. In the Western world family name, surname, or last name was first introduced by the Romans but it was not permanently established. The practiced died off in the later part of the Roman Empire. It was revived later on the 15th century AD. In most other parts of the world, there was no family name until much later, and some still do not have the practice today, especially in Islamic states. The Chinese are different. We had family names way ahead in 2800 BC. Chinese naming convention has a middle name which is the generation name. So the Chinese naming convention is Family name-Generational name-Given name. Generational name can tell us which generation of the family tree we are from. The generational name requires a sort of index and this takes the form of a poem called ‘bianci lien’. Each word of the poem is the sequential listing for the generations. Unfortunately this practice has been lost to many Chinese, but many to this day still follow the convention. I have a friend who can recite his family tree back as far as he could go.

    So what about Filipinos? Family name came to Philippines by way of the Spanish in 1848. It became necessary for tax collection and census purposes. So family name came very late for Filipinos.

    • Micha says:

      The malignancy of corruption in Philippine context only came to the fore during the Marcos reign. Why the malignancy continue to pester to this day is because of our failure to exact justice and make the surviving perpetrator face the consequences of their crimes.

      Instead of offering fig leaves of reconciliation that allowed her and her family to keep most of their plundered money and re-establish political power we should have, at minimum, thrown Imelda in solitary confinement for the rest of her life.

      The general collective consciousness which emerged after treating her the way our institutions and political leaders did in the post Marcos era was that corruption pays, that it is alright to be corrupt and that one can actually get away with it if you know how to dance the cha-cha and occasionally shed crocodile tears.

      Here’s a more effective solution to that malignancy : excise the tumor. Hold a public beheading of Imelda Marcos.

      If you think that’s extreme, consider the persisting scenario : un-abetted malignancy which becomes invasive in our body politic.

      • Macchiavelli: harsh measures must take place at once, nice things come slowly so people are grateful for them.. the Romanians applied this with the Ceausescus..

        Their son Nico’s entire property was immediately confiscated, he had to go to court, was able to prove that one painting was really his, and got it back decades later.

        Romania also:

        1) gets a lot of EU help in combatting corruption, and of course conforms to EU anti-money laundering standards – no bank secrecy like in the Philippines

        2) has an anti-corruption office with teeth, meaning around 400 full-time prosecutors.

        3) has people who go on the street regularly when things get too much, usually half a million people out of a population of 20 million at home and 5 million abroad.

        ..BTW Nico Ceausescu is around the same age as BBM. He lives a quiet life in Bucharest.

        • chemrock says:

          “Macchiavelli: harsh measures must take place at once, nice things come slowly so people are grateful for them..”

          Lee Kuan Yew also applied this. When it is necessary to raise tax by 10%. go ahead and put it into the budget at one got. Hit them bastards in one go. They will hate you for 1 year. When it is OK to reduce tax by 10%. announce a 1% reduction of tax for the next 10 years. Those bastards will love you for the next 10 years.

          Had a businessman accquaintance once in Makati. He told me of his plans to enter politics. I told him go get yourself “The Prince” and he said what? Gosh Filipinos entering politics don’t even know Macchiavelli is a ‘must read’ for this business.

      • chemrock says:

        I share your angst and I agree Imelda, I would also throw in Revilla, Estrada, Enrille together, all these should be hang on the new bridges out of the build build build.

        However, I think to see the corruption problem arising out of the non-prosecution and punishment of these elitist scumbags as THE cause for the endemic corruption is a black-and-white view. It’s exclusive and imagines that pre-Marcos Filipinos were holy virgins. Poor communication in the past gives the impression that all was well until Marcos came along. There is a serious cultural problem — damaged culture plus damaged gene?. The orgy of corruption of the Marcos days that continued to this days is just the tip of the iceberg.

        • Micha says:

          Well no, even in the supposedly squeaky clean Japan, both corporate and public office corruption gets reported occasionally. As you said it’s in the beastly nature of humans to be tempted into corruption and be dishonest when opportunity presents as an act of self-interest and preservation. That nature is universal, not exclusive to Filipinos.

          What you need to develop is a culture where corruption will be heavily frowned upon and where perpetrators face outright punishment so as to discourage impunity.

          You do that by setting an example of severe consequential punishment on such big time in your face plunderers like Imelda.

          And especially Imelda.

    • The Claveria decree giving family names to Filipinos was in 1849. Friars were given a list of surnames and instructions how to distribute them.

      Albay was special – the Franciscans decided to distribute the alphabet going around the Mayon volcano. So in Tiwi you have names like Candaza, Corral, Clutario.. in Oas you have Remoto and Redillas.. those with other names are families that came after 1849.

      In Europe you have certain origins for family names after the Middle Ages: in Scandinavia there are family names like Ericsson and Johannsson, simply son of Eric, son of Johann. Names like Müller (miller), Zimmermann (carpenter) were simply a person’s profession.

      • Ahhh, so that’s the way all the Spanish names got here. Thanks for that bit of news. Joe Jr. will be very interested in that kind of odd detail. He’s very much interested in Philippine history (thanks to MLQ3 having given me several history almanacs that he browses regularly).

  9. chemrock says:

    Joe I posted a comment, rather lenghty. I repeated the post. Both got blocked I think. Can you pass the 2nd posting. Thks. (spelling errors corrected in this one).

  10. Micha says:

    Imelda, the bastard daughter of a wealthy Romualdez who as a teenager lived in the garage of her relative in Manila, did not get to plunder the nation’s wealth until she was fully enshrined as a co-dictator.

    Emmanuel Macron did not get to be corrupted until he was made millionaire by the Rothschilds. Following the popular protest against his government, he said he is declaring “an economic and social state of emergency”.

    “I know I’ve hurt some of you with my words” he said during a televised address Monday night.
    “I want to be very clear with you : I’ve fought to shake up the system that we have in place. This is because I want to serve our country, which I love”

    He said that in French. Here is the English translation :

    “I’m sorry you complained when I tried to impoverish you. I’ve fought to shake up the system, but only the parts that helped the poor and the middle class, not the part that helped the globalist bankers and my fellow plutocrats. I did this because I want to serve the globalist bankers, which I love.”

  11. Micha says:

    More evidence for top-down corruption :

    Michael Cohen, Donny J’s consigliere, was sentenced to 3 years in prison after implicating the boss.

    • The system of corruption that exists in any nation is generally top down. My write-up was aimed at explaining how corruption that is culturally widespread (even at the economic bottom) gets money directed to very poor uses, and is the reason the Philippines is poor. Incentive programs incent what they incent, and those programs that exist in the Philippines promote self-enrichment, not productivity. I think the bottom-up characterization was a poor choice of story-telling on my part. If I were to re-write it, I’d probably entitle it “How corruption kills kids”, because that is what happens when tax money is taken from the most vulnerable sector and passed to legislators and mayors.

      We are on the same side on this matter.

      • “Michael Cohen, Donny J’s consiglier

        I wouldn’t characterize him as some high level advisor like “Tom Hagen” of Godfather films. Trump’s inner circle is his family, and then more powerful individuals (Cohen is neither). Not even a fixer, ex. Cohen fancied himself as “Ray Donovan” (Showtime TV series).

        He was more like a bagman. Carrying all the things Trump couldn’t be connected to. By definition he was a fallguy (that he couldn’t do well either). i know in the Philippines the concept of bagman is celebrated (hey you’re the dude giving away the money), but

        over here a bagman is low-level.

        Roger Stone I think is the guy that can bring Trump down, but he’s playing hardball and punching back, ie. not cooperating. i doubt Flynn has anything big, but they are playing him to be some big fish in all this, dangling so others will shake.

        I don’t think Manafort has anything to bring down Trump. he’s not cooperating either.

        Trumps sons could always say i didn’t know. We’ll see, but so far nothing big me thinks.

  12. eduardomaresca says:

    “And the poor, man they just need a motorcycle and a good meal. 4,000 pesos a month doesn’t buy that.
    So a whole lot of people figure out ways to incent themselves”.
    I see it also happening among Filipino expatriates in my country. They work as domestic helpers and earn small amounts but they want to drive cars they can’t afford so many Pinoy whom I know figure out creative ways to tap into governmental handouts. Many have more than one employer but only declare one income stream thereby claiming that they live below the poverty line when, in fact, they earn much more and this is one of the ways they make extra cash to finance their wants…

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