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Miriam sees ‘failed state’ due to corruption

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago warned yesterday of the Philippines becoming a “failed state’’ if the senators and members of the House of Representatives accused of plunder and succeed in delaying their cases lodged with the office of the Ombudsman and ultimately before the Sandiganbayan.

An expert in international law, Santiago said Transparency International (TI) defines a failed state as one where the state lacks an effective judicial system, and lacks the rule of law. The term “failed state’’ emerged after the end of the Cold War.

“State failure can be caused by rampant corruption, predatory elites who have long manipulated power, and an absence of the rule of law,” Santiago said.

The plunder cases filed against the lawmakers arose from their questionable disbursements of their mukti-billion-peso pork barrel (Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF) allocations and their receipt of tens of millions of pesos of the equally controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds as alleged incentive for convicting then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in mid-2012.

Santiago was guest speaker at the 50th golden anniversary of the Colegio de Sta. Rosa, Makati, at Rockwell Centre in Makati city yesterday.

She cited the case of Guinea where even a high economic growth rate would not save a state from failure, if economic prosperity is accompanied by a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

She also gave as examples Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Haiti as states that failed because of corruption and repression.

“The PDAF and the DAP pork barrel scams will not go away. The Philippines has been undergoing the complex and conflict-ridden processes of deterioration and steady erosion of state functions for decades. This is payback time,” she said.

Santiago cited as a reason for prolonged voter outrage an increasingly sophisticated voter population with the advent of social media, and the import of modern ideas on governance by overseas Filipino workers.

“I am so depressed at the self-seeking behavior of my colleagues that I can hardly escape cynicism about the future of Philippine politics. The behavior of my colleagues with respect to PDAF and DAP have been so self-seeking that senators and representatives involved have crossed the line into kleptocracy or into state capture,” she said.

Santiago specifically warned that: “The greed for pork barrel among lawmakers is undermining government legitimacy.” (Mario B. Casayuran)