Friday, August 05, 2011

When Ordinary People Commit Graft

We usually associate graft, embezzlement and other forms of corruption with high ranking public officials and controversial political leaders.

He stole 5 Million Pesos in a rigged public bidding; He pocketed 100 Million Pesos from a ghost infrastructure project; so on, so forth.

But graft is committed by ordinary people as well.

In a program the organization I work for manages, we discovered some irregularities in the reporting of check-ups by health workers.

The program is supposed to run like this: the patient goes to the clinic everyday to take his medicine. He is given an allowance for food and transportation. At the clinic, the nurse or a health worker gives him the medicine, and the patient drinks it in front of the health worker. The point being the health worker sees the patient taking the medicine, making sure the treatment works. That's the DOTS program. Directly Observed Treatment Short Course. And its used to cure tuberculosis.

This program, conceptualized by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, would drastically lower the TB cases in the Philippines; and both organizations have shelled out millions and millions pesos to implement it.

But don't you notice, we haven't moved in the rankings?

There's still a lot of people in the country dying of TB.

It's because of corruption.

But there's no big time politician behind this, pocketing the funds for the program. Instead, you have regular people, like you and me, committing graft.

What happens is the nurse or the health worker would just simulate or fake the check-up. It's easily done because there's no way for the upper-ups to immediately find out if a TB patient died. All the nurse or health worker has to do is to "continue" administering the treatment, fill up the form and submit it as if the patient appeared before him and drank the medicine. The nurse or health worker then gets the food and transportation allowance of the deceased. Let's say that equates to P500 per patient per day. Why, that amounts to P3,500 per week and P14,000 per month! And that's only one patient! Imagine how many patients visit the clinic every day.

That's graft, man. No way of denying it.

The sad thing about this is that these nurses and health workers don't think there's anything wrong with what they're doing.

"P500 lang naman eh. Di naman mapapansin. Mas malaki ninakaw ni GMA at FG," they might say.

But stealing is stealing. Que one hundred pesos o one million man yan.

And this barangay-level stealing should be addressed as much as, if not more than, the coverage GMA, FG, Genuino, and other politicians get nowadays.

Corruption is everywhere and we have to tackle it from the bottom up. We cannot turn a blind eye to people stealing P500 because its just P500. Ang nagnanakaw naman ng 5 million nagsimula din sa maliit na halaga di ba?


PS: I'm not saying all nurses and health workers working in barangay health centers are corrupt. Ofcourse not. In fact, marami sa kanila sila pa minsan ang nag-aabono sa kelangan gastusin. But there are some who abuse the system, and THEY are the target of my blogpost. 


Yen said...

I agree with you, Kris. We really need to work on this. The way I see it is it is very, very difficult to say no to temptation. We need good strong leaders/supervisors who will change this practice. We need better systems/procedure to decrease the temptation to steal.

mark bantigue said...

Hello Atty.

I find your blog very helpful and inspirational to young Filipino professionals. May I feature one of your blog posts on P3?

P3,, is a crowd-sourced, progressive, online Philippine news magazine that features blogs with perspectives on modern Filipino culture, progress-minded, social responsibility, environmentalism, and tolerance. All articles are submitted by bloggers and freelance writers. The only prerequisite is that the blogger/writer belong to the industry in which she/he writes; e.g. OFW writes on OFW issues, artists write about artist news, etc.

May I feature your blog post? I will provide all the necessary links and description of your blog.


Mark J. Bantigue
220 Tomas Morato Avenue
Quezon City 1103 Philippines
Tw: @P3dotPh
Fb:    /P3dotPh
+63 918 919 3660
Tw: @markbantigue
Fb:    /markbantigue

Kris Ablan said...

Sure, Mark!