The political process, by contrast, within the Philippines, is dysfunctional. We have made the distinction between good and bad corruption, and there is good and bad political dysfunction. Singapore did not function as a democracy in the truest sense. It was actually a dictatorship, a dysfunctional democracy. However, this helped Singapore. It was the right leadership, the right skills, and the right vision.
In the Philippines, there are the structures of a democratic nation in place, but in practice, the nation does not function as a true democracy. It may do in parts of the nation, but in other parts, you will find fiefdoms and warlords. Same nation, different world.
Due to the close association and high positive correlation in the Philippines between wealth, family and politics one could say the Philippines is in some ways more of a monarchy than a democracy. Political power can be gained as something akin to a hereditary right. For me personally it does not matter in the way a nation is ruled. You can have the purist, most democratic nation in the world, and it may be home to huge numbers of people in poverty.
Or you could have a dictatorship that functioned extremely well, and was benevolent and smart and disciplined, and it managed to drive the economy skillfully to the benefit of all. With poverty afflicting only a tiny majority. Just like Singapore. I know what I would prefer. Democracy is just a word, how people live is the important thing.
Within the Philippines, it is unthinkable that people from such “ordinary” backgrounds could ever become president. There may be a few exceptions to this, and the one exception may turn out to be someone like current world boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao. However, for the most part, it is only the elite families and the wealthy that have the means to engage in politics Filipino-style. The Philippine population, who are admittedly at times coerced to vote for a certain politician, and this occurs frequently in local or regional politics, are hopelessly “star struck”, and are attracted to those with the charismatic trappings of wealth, or showbiz connection.
What happens in this regard in the Philippines also happens in other third-world countries. In these ways, the linkages and high correlation between politics and wealth become evident. The Philippines has a relatively high level of wealth inequality, compared with most of its regional neighbors. In 2003, the richest 20% of the Philippine families received more than half of the national income; while the poorest 20% accounted for only one twentieth. Again, the ugly head of past poor governance in the 1970’s raises its head. It transpired that a good deal of the foreign debt of the Philippines consisted of loans that financed projects of political cronies of the then president. Most of the projects failed, and because the loans were coursed through Government financial institutions, they were eventually assumed by the Government.
What this means in practical and simple terms is that the money ended up in private pockets. However, the repayment of the loan was assumed by the nation and therefore indirectly by the populace. Those Filipinos that engaged in this embezzlement took off to the States, bought real estate there, and likely hired blonde prostitutes that they drove around in their silver Mercedes. Or perhaps it was a black BMW. The blondes were a nice change from the Filipina mistresses they kept at home. It was a nice lifestyle away from the prying eyes back home in the Philippines.
The tab was picked up by the Philippine government and thereby the Philippine populace. Keep paying those taxes, folks, your money is needed! The mindset of these embezzlers was strictly old boy network and Pinoy macho. They didn’t miss a trick, and neither did the hookers. Everyone was happy, except the masses at home had to accept their fate. The Church taught them how to be pious, humble and accept suffering. The ruling elite mouthed the same sentiments for the sake of public image, but their allegiance was to the Swiss bank accounts and do-as-you-please lifestyle.
For the Catholic Church the allegiance was to Rome, or more correctly, to the Vatican. As long as the Pope is happy, and Catholic dogma is rigidly adhered to, then it’s all dandy. The Roman Catholic Church still wields enormous influence over the majority Catholic population and to a large degree over government policy. In 2011 some Bishops were driven around in brand-new SUV’s that they had petitioned from the Government. More money wasted. A nice drive out, whiz past the populace, a little wave and a sign of the Cross here and there, have a swim, then back to the air-conditioned rectory. None of the responsibilities and worries of raising a family in poverty.
An excerpt from the book by: Duncan Alexander McKenzie