17 March 2009

Corruption in the Philippines has become family-based, says bishop

Corruption in RP has become family-based, says bishop

This story by Melo Acuna is from CBCPNews. I've highlighted some parts of it and have added [some comments]. 'RP' means 'Republic of the Philippines'.

MANILA, March 16, 2009—Call it corruption: the Filipino style.
When it comes to corruption, there’s one thing that makes the Philippines distinct from other countries, a Roman Catholic bishop has said.

Sadly but true, Balanga Bishop Socrates B. Villegas said what used to be strong family bonds have been ‘abused and corrupted.’

“The singular trademark of graft and corruption in the Philippines, it seems to me, is that our type of corruption is family-based,” he said.

One example, Villegas cited, is the “shadow of corruption” that perennially haunts President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband. [In my almost 38 years in the Philippines I have never seen such shameless corruption, whether family-based or not, as today].

The controversy hounding former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, his wife and two sons—all get entangled in graft cases here and abroad is another example, he said.

Villegas said the “corruption syndicate” is either husband and wife partnership or a father and son connivance or a whole family in cahoots.

“Corruption is done through the family, with the family and in the family,” the 48-year old bishop lamented.

“I have always known that the Filipinos are known for strong family ties. Our strong family bonds have been abused and corrupted. It is our sad reality,” he said.

Bad to worse

The former protégé of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin said the country’s situation has “deteriorated” because of rampant corruption in the society.

The glaring proof that corruption has reached its alarming state, he said, is that “families are no longer just corruptible but have become blatantly corrupt and corrupting.”

“We have turned from bad to worse,” Villegas lamented.

Villegas’ statement is contained in his reflection in time for the feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the cathedral of the Diocese of Balanga, on March 19.


While a family-based corruption is not new, he also cited the “conjugal dictatorship” of former President Marcos and his wife.

In those days, he said, the country rallied and protested against crony families and fought the family political dynasties.

“The reasons for our social discontent thirty years ago have resurrected,” said Villegas, who was a former Manila Auxiliary bishop.

Today, Villegas also chairs the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Praying together as family

Villegas then called on for the restoration of the integrity of the Filipino family which requires everyone to “start praying again in the family.” [I have often been edified by seeing Filipino families in restaurants praying grace together before they eat].

He said that the faithful cannot just dismiss the “time tested” wisdom of Father Patrick Peyton that “the family that prays together stays together.”

“When family prays, they stay together with God,” he added.

Villegas also said that there is a need to start “simplifying our lives because “the most essential things in life are not available in the malls as what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

He further cited the basics of family life where family members eat together, “not just to satisfy hunger but to be with one another.” [I've been convinced of this since I went to study in the USA in 1968 and saw that families had to really work at being families, with the family meal being central. Growing up in Ireland this was a given, Sunday dinner being the family high-point of the week, and I had never reflected on it].

He also stressed the need to start telling stories again in the family “simple day to day stories, trivial and seemingly unimportant things, fairy tales and legends for children” as he stressed the need “to share our dreams and visions, our hopes and plans, our nightmares and worries, our sadness and joys in the family living room.” [Conversation at the family meal enables this to happen naturally as does time spent with the children, especially when they are young].

Better nation

Can such family acts fight corruption? “Believe me—when fear of God is brought back to the family, we will be a better nation,” Villegas said. [The 'fear of God' is not that of a slave but rather a profound respect for God's will and a desire to do it].

“When a sense of honor and dignity returns to the home, we will be able to bounce back to moral uprightness. When our passion to preserve our good name is taught again, our youth and children will choose to die rather than sin. When lying and cheating and petty stealing are punished severely at home, society will have less criminals,” he said. [On thing I am profoundly grateful to my parents for is the honesty they lived by. We never had to be punished in this area because we imbibed their values].

Sounding ever optimistic, the bishop said as soon as honor takes precedence over money “we will be able to turn back the clock of corruption” simply because “the best school is the family” as there is “no teacher better than a credible parent.” [See my comment just above].

Villegas said there’s hope the corrupt and corrupting Filipino family “can become a sanctified and sanctifying family.”

He added that in a corrupt country, the first victim is the family and the country’s renewal will also begin in the family “by turning to the Holy Family.” (Melo Acuna)

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