It Never Happened To Me

While I read Dennis Horner’s post (below) with some nodding of the head, I have to confess none of this ever happened tome and I lived there for several years, as well as having visited on too many occasions to remember. I kept a reasonably low profile nd was always very aware of the risk one took to simply be seen as having any cash, being in a business or speaking up about things as they really are.

Most Asian cultures, and a lot of others, too, resent criticism, especially when it is true. They are not dumb, they know the problems in their society and the corruption, the rich taking so much and the poor copping it sweet. The ones inbetween feel powerless and resent you rubbing their noses in the truth. Nobody likes a foreigner to come to their country and tell them what is wrong with it. Love it or leave it, as the bumper sticker says. It is no different here and while there is so much to be fixed, telling them over and over will not get it done.

As my wife reminds me, if it were like ‘home’ then it would not have the other things we like so much about it either. If the rule of law were better enforced then the Nanny State we rail against back home, taking one liberty after another, would also be here. We should be grateful we have money and some status as foreigners and not be trying to make the playing field level for everyone. Life isn;t like that and in the Philippines htey don’t try, for the sake of political correctness, to pretend it is.

So the end result is a system where you can bribe officials and government employees. You can buy your way out of trouble, even murder if you have the money and the connections. You can get a better deal because of who you are, who you know and how much you have. I wonder why Americans don’t all come here in droves, after all that is pure capitalism at work. For the more socialist among us, the poor people would only waste any help they were given as they are too dumb to do otherwise. Dumb? Yes because the average IQ is just 86 so that means there are a lot of people not as smart as that. Why? Because of diet and nutrition, education and societal circumstances. And the ruling elite use that to their advantage.

Look, it was the same in the UK, USA and Europe until fairly recently. Perhaps only since the 1970s have we really enjoyed social improvements. Even then, our corruption is beneath the surface, still there but we hide it because it is no longer ok to be honest about it. What we see in the Philippines is a slice of human nature that is in all of us and all out societies, just here it is a raw slice, uncovered and apologized for. I am sorry the jails here are intolerable cess pits, that the courts are so back logged and yet they continue to hear cases with no complainants appearing and for what reasons? The place is a garbage tip, it is corrupt, there is a lot of incompetence and stupidity compared to how we prefer to do things but the fact remains… nobody brought you here in chains in the hold of a ship, did they? You can always leave. Unless you have already fallen foul of the system and some trumped up charges.

The truth is, I see no value in reminding every Filipino you meet how messed up their society is. They know it and that is why so many try to get out and work abroad. After a few years working overseas, trying to convince them how bad things are back home is likewise pointless as they only remember the good things… don’t we all! Apart from all that, they can’t do anything by themselves to change things and all the best brains and leaders are ‘processing their documents’ or already gone.

So just keep your head pulled in, mind your own business and pray you are never a victim because those jails are death traps, pure and simple. But that is the way it is here. You know like, you leave. I don;t agree with the way things are here but I can’t change them, but I won’t hide them, either.

It Could Happen To You

Our Contributor, Dennis Horner has some powerful things to say about the Philippines. We remind everyone his opinions are not automatically those of the webmaster, site owner or any other contributor or comment maker.

There is a lot of buzz at the moment on the Expat Yahoo Groups about a Brit and his wife being held in jail for nearly 2 years. The alleged crime is illegal recruitment, which is aligned to human trafficking and that is tied to nearly half a billion dollars of US foreign aid and is being used to leverage action from the government. Meanwhile, the expat and his wife are being held in a municipal jail. Imagine an overcrowded cell with little ventilation and no porper sanitation. You sleep on cardboard or plywood and you have to pay P10 to use the toilet. Food is disgusting so those with family and funds cook their own brought in from outside.

Imagine losing an eye to untreated diabetes while being held on remand? Imagine having to send your kids off to stay with a relative of your wife who believes you have to be guilty because you are in jail! No presumption of innocence in this country and not much due process either.

When your case is heard the complainants fail to show… every time over 18 months yet the case is still not thrown out of court! Is it because of connections between the authorities? Some misguided idea if a Kano is involved it has to be a conviction? Do they need convictions at any cost to keep the foreign aid?

Meanwhile, there is no excuse for the disgusting, primitive conditions the prisoners are held in. The state has a duty of care to them while they are being held. Apparently this is a non-bailable offense. Employees of the business owners were held for months but finally released on bail and the expat wasn’t an owner, just an employee. Meanwhile the parents suffer every time they have to send some cash to help their son because most of it is stolen or misused. The attorney just keeps asking for more money.

The only excuse for the poor conditions is the culture of the Philippines. Unless you are one of the ruling elite, you are nobody. Justice is only for those who can pay, this is the Third World, remember. There are decent, honest and hard working government officials trying to fight the corruption and do what they can, but they are outnumbered and outgunned.

If you are thinking of retiring to the Philippines… think again. This can happen to anyone. trumped up charges are a common occurrence to extort money from foreigners and locals. The blog owners brother in law was falsely accused of raping a 13 year old. A non-bailable and capital offence. He fled because if he had gone to jail he would still be rotting there. There were ten witnesses who swore he never left their sight the entire time the alleged crime took place. The witnesses saw the girl wander off with a man and a bottle of rum earlier. She said she scratched her attacker and said where in detail, yet not a single mark was on the BiL’s body. The parents wanted money. They are ignorant, poor and basically trash. The police smelt money because the BiL has two sisters married to Kano’s. However one was an LAPD Sgt and the other a former Military Policeman and both smelt a rat. The ex-LAPD Sgt went there, arranged the witness statements the imbecilic local cops refused to do as they just wanted a payment, and sorted out a lawyer. In the end they had to pay the parents of the ‘victim’ to sign a release, yet they still ask his parents for money regularly. Worse were other neighbours and so called friends who all smelt a chance to make a peso and tried to get money too.

(Editor’s Note: Basically this is true, it did happen and there is sadly more to it that is even worse for the system here)

If you want a vacation in a stinking, poorly run, lousy and disease infested armpit with vile, corrupt officials risking your liberty and safety, then come to the Philippines. Sex is easy to get and cheap, so too the booze. Don’t feel guilty, the local big shots treat the poorer people like their feudal vassals too. It is the Land of Lip Service and it is a sad joke. The saddest thing is telling the truth like this is a crime over there. It hurts their pride so much they react like petty little kids.

The good news is the new President is trying to change this. He is genuinely doing a lot to stop the systemic corruption that is so much a part of Filipino society. The team of public servants he has put in place are fighting hard to make those changes and I have seen written proof they are doing their best. I doubt they will make much of an inroad in this term and if he is re-elected, in the next but hopefully they will do all they can.

The Philippines has too many great people to let it stay such a festering sore on the world. Most are overseas trying to make enough to send home because the rich few rule everything and keep things that way because it suits them. Happens all over the world, it is not just a Filipino thing. If you can get out, you do. If you can’t then you are too busy keeping alive to try and fight the system and the powers that be. Too easy to disappear or die. Or simply have someone make a false accusation against you and you disappear into the jails and court system, forever.

You can either do the sensible thing and sever all ties with the Philippines. Find a chat mate online from another country for instance. Or you can decide to support the efforts of the President and his team. I love the Philippines and the Filipino people, but I will not pretend for a moment it is anything but a basket case of a corrupt sewer like country. I got my family out then went back for a vacation and I doubt we will be back again for many years to come. There are nicer, cleaner, safer and better run tropical countries in SE Asia to visit with better infrastructure and cuisine. There are better places to retire to, to visit and so on. Once you have your Filipina why remain if you can function in your own country? I sincerely hope by the time I am ready to retire, the President and his team have turned the country around and made it worth retiring to.