Updated March 20, 2009 12:00 AM
The rating of the Department of Public Works and Highways as the most corrupt government agency in a recent survey was not surprising. Every survey on corruption shows the DPWH in competition with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs for the top slot.
What was new, and disheartening, in Pulse Asia’s February 2009 Nationwide Survey on Corruption was that among the respondents who said they had personally experienced corruption, a high 81 percent opted to keep silent about it. Pulse Asia said keeping silent could be “the most reasonable action to take in light of the experiences of whistle-blowers in publicized cases” such as Rodolfo Lozada Jr.
Lozada and his family are still living on the kindness of nuns and priests of De la Salle University. He faces charges in connection with his former government job. The charges were filed only after he defied the administration and told the Senate what he knew about the national broadband network deal between China’s ZTE Corp. and the Department of Transportation and Communications. He is out of a job, while most of those implicated in that deal have kept theirs or have been promoted, including those he said were involved in the effort to keep him silent.
Other whistle-blowers have suffered worse fates. And after suffering those fates, the worst part is that nothing happens to the corruption cases that they have denounced. After the ZTE deal was scrapped, the administration has tried to wish away the corruption controversy and revive the broadband deal in a new version. Amid bribery allegations, Benjamin Abalos was forced to quit as chairman of the Commission on Elections, a few months short of the end of his fixed term, but he now seems to be enjoying his retirement.
With recent developments, you can’t blame Filipinos who think that blowing the whistle on corruption is an exercise in futility. Who is rewarded in this country, and who are the losers? In the next survey, the number of Filipinos who decide to keep silent in the face of controversy will likely be higher.