The most important practices were the falsification of accounting documents. The evidence of embezzlement of funds were destroyed and the cabezas de barangay (barangay leaders) were obliged to sign blank financial statements. Corrupt governors hid monies from the administration in Manila. They also found ways to discourage the natives from working so that they would do so and thus be liable to fines. Taxes and fees were arbitrarily set and excessively high, and illegal fines were often collected. Governors could embezzle the salaries of public officials and often demanded gifts from their hosts when they made official visits. Gifts were also necessary so that false documents would not be be issued. The reasons for corruption were many: the governors had executive, legislative and judicial powers. No checks and balances were built into the system, and when there were, they were unenforceable. There was a vague limit between what were public goods and what were private ones. Turnover was high and governors often did not stay long enough int their posts to establish and develop healthy relationships with their constituents. The salaries of public officials were low. There was a monetary crisis in the 19th century. The laws were so complex as to easily hide misappropriation and fraud. Finally, the common people had no idea of the law and submitted meekly to the injustices and abuses. WHAT WAS THE PRICE OF CORRUPTION? Very high. In monetary terms, in the province of Negros towards the end of 1860, approximately twenty-five thousand pesos (multiply this to millions of pesos, the equivalent of present value of currency), were siphoned away from the government. The political Americans’ later efforts to eradicate corruption at the local level during their own colonial government would prove futile.”
(Excerpt from “DE-INSTITUTIONALIZING CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES – Eric C. Batalla, PhD, Associate Professor, De La Salle University.
Bp. Benny Navarro