Duterte is not doing enough to change the Philippines' mendicant culture

The Philippines today looks exactly the same as it does 12 months ago. There is no ‘war on corruption’. The ordinary Filipino – and by extension, the ordinary civil servant – is as corrupt as he ever was. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is as keen on padrino politics as any other former administration. While we can all understand why this happens – the extremely low level of trust and loyalty in society at large – there’s clearly no intent to change it.

There are some astoundingly simple things that Duterte COULD have done during the first month in office to clean up the Philippine’s rotten-to-the-core social structure.

The first would have been to recruit a platoon of the planet’s best teachers to inculcate some less dysfunctional values into the nation’s kids – and hopefully impart some useful academic knowledge at the same time. Neither happens at the moment: generation after generation, lying and cheating and betrayal is taught to the nation’s youth as normal and acceptable, while the quality of academic thought remains pathetically third-world.

Second would have been to drastically simplify the tax code and business legislation … and fire 90% of the State employees involved in related paper-shuffling, since they’d become surplus to requirements. This would unleash a wave of private enterprise, wipe out a lot of State corruption, and increase the tax take.

Third would be to create a proper land-titling system. As far as I can tell, none of the country’s land is properly titled or surveyed, which means nobody can ever invest in anything unless they have an army of lawyers (or an actual army) to enforce their claim.

Fourth (related to the above) would be to delete 90% of the State agencies without any obvious function except to interfere in people’s lives – there are any number of these, with bizarre alphabet-soup abbreviations, that do nothing except suck up tax money while pretending to push forward ‘development’.

All of these things would be cheap – some of them would create almost instant cost savings. Since Duterte didn’t do any of this, my assumption is that he has no intention of solving the country’s most critical problem, ie., 100 million Filipinos all standing around doing nothing, waiting for the government to wipe their bottoms for them.

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