In almost every election season, Filipinos are saddled with the sad predicament of having to settle for the lesser evil in the choice of their nation’s leadership. It is very unfortunate that ideal leaders are simply not appealing or popular enough to the general masses to make them winnable candidates.
If voters then have to choose from among a list of non-ideal candidates, we need to make the call on determining which is the lesser evil – in most cases, it is a choice between two traits: corrupt or incompetent.
The “Lesser Evil” Debate
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most action packed debating arena on Pinoy cultural and political dysfunction. In tonight’s show, please give a round of applause for our two opposing camps, to enlighten us on which is the lesser evil – corruption or incompetence.
Pro-Corruption Camp: represented by JE, GMA, and JB
Pro-Incompetence Camp: represented by CA, BSA, and MAR
Question 1: Which has a greater cost on the economy: corruption or incompetence?
Pro-incompetent camp: Fellow countrymen, corruption can lead to as much as 30~50% of the people’s money winding up in the pockets of corrupt extorting officials. Imagine a highway just 50% finished because funds disappeared. Also, senators discuss all day who is cheating in what – the country can’t move forward with all these investigations and hearings. Corruption is a great evil that must be eradicated at all levels of government and society.
Pro-corrupt camp: No, we believe incompetence is worse. Imagine – a corrupt official will only give you half of a highway completed. But an incompetent official will mishandle the project (e.g. wrong proportions of a cement mixture) in a way that can lead to a highway that cracks and disintegrates in the heat/rain in just 3 months. This will lead to a 300% loss in the people’s money: (1) initial money spent, (2) money spent to demolish the highway, and then (3) money to finally do it right. Incompetence has a bigger economic cost than corruption!
Question 2: Which leads to a bigger loss for job creation: corruption or incompetence?
Pro-incompetent camp: Fellow countrymen, corruption leads to foreign companies shying away from investing in our country. We are losing out to our neighbors (where graft and corruption are not an issue). Juan is losing on so many job opportunities. Look at what projecting an image of “daang matuwid” (sham as it may be) got us – investment grade status!
Pro-corrupt camp: No, incompetence is worse, because it leads to a failure to maintain and improve the infrastructure and services that investors, traders, and workers badly need to operate. Look at NAIA and MRT bozo administrators who cannot even have the common sense to make a train line to connect the two points. Tourists who would have poured in money into our country are in dismay to see our laughable (more fun?) infrastructure. Do you think they will ever come back, or recommend our country as a tourist destination? Incompetence is a big loss to job-creating FDI and tourism.
Question 3: Which harms our democratic process most: corruption or incompetence?
Pro-corrupt camp: If not for “hello Garci” and other hocus pocus numerology tricks during elections, the people would have voted who they really wanted into leadership. Leaving critical decisions (such as choosing leaders) to dumb masses who don’t even know what’s good for themselves as individuals is such a crazy idea. We all know that the ruling oligarchs and politicians know best for the country, and that democracy in the Philippines is just a sham. It is but right to prevent these uneducated masses from having their way in elections, or else they will pull this entire country down the drain with them.
Pro-incompetent camp: Fellow countrymen, corruption is against what this country stands for as a democracy, because it cheats our people of their right of representation. Incompetent officials are what appeals to the masses, because it represents the people (incompetent themselves) as citizens of this democracy. So let the people have their way – if that is what they want. If the use of illogical tactics that appeal to emotion such as “my husband/mother/father just died, so please vote me” slogans are what they want to hear, so be it. The government should be of, for, and by the people, no matter how stupid they may be.
Who wins this debate?
Our judges (FVR & MDS) are having difficulty deciding which camp won this debate. They are inclined to recommend further deliberation in Senate hearings, but they believe it will just take too much of our highly paid lawmakers’ time. And if they do decide, the case will likely only move up to the Supreme Court due to third-party appeals for reconsideration. Eventually, even if a decision is made, nobody eventually stays behind bars, so they think this is just a useless exercise for the government to look into.
Our judges have therefore asked the people themselves to decide in a plebiscite: If Binay wins, corruption is the lesser evil. But if Roxas wins, it will be incompetence. So it’s all up to you guys – you be the judge.
A final satirical waiver: If the initials of camp members happen to match anyone you have in mind, then that is your hyper-active imagination at play.