Corruption vs. Incompetence: Which is the Lesser Evil?

In almost every election season, Filipinos are saddled with the sad predicament of having to settle for the lesser evil in the choice of their nation’s leadership. It is very unfortunate that ideal leaders are simply not appealing or popular enough to the general masses to make them winnable candidates.

If voters then have to choose from among a list of non-ideal candidates, we need to make the call on determining which is the lesser evil – in most cases, it is a choice between two traits: corrupt or incompetent.

The “Lesser Evil” Debate

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most action packed debating arena on Pinoy cultural and political dysfunction. In tonight’s show, please give a round of applause for our two opposing camps, to enlighten us on which is the lesser evil – corruption or incompetence.

Pro-Corruption Camp: represented by JE, GMA, and JB


Pro-Incompetence Camp: represented by CA, BSA, and MAR

Question 1: Which has a greater cost on the economy: corruption or incompetence?

Pro-incompetent camp: Fellow countrymen, corruption can lead to as much as 30~50% of the people’s money winding up in the pockets of corrupt extorting officials. Imagine a highway just 50% finished because funds disappeared. Also, senators discuss all day who is cheating in what – the country can’t move forward with all these investigations and hearings. Corruption is a great evil that must be eradicated at all levels of government and society.

Pro-corrupt camp: No, we believe incompetence is worse. Imagine – a corrupt official will only give you half of a highway completed. But an incompetent official will mishandle the project (e.g. wrong proportions of a cement mixture) in a way that can lead to a highway that cracks and disintegrates in the heat/rain in just 3 months. This will lead to a 300% loss in the people’s money: (1) initial money spent, (2) money spent to demolish the highway, and then (3) money to finally do it right. Incompetence has a bigger economic cost than corruption!

Question 2: Which leads to a bigger loss for job creation: corruption or incompetence?

Pro-incompetent camp: Fellow countrymen, corruption leads to foreign companies shying away from investing in our country. We are losing out to our neighbors (where graft and corruption are not an issue). Juan is losing on so many job opportunities. Look at what projecting an image of “daang matuwid” (sham as it may be) got us – investment grade status!

Pro-corrupt camp: No, incompetence is worse, because it leads to a failure to maintain and improve the infrastructure and services that investors, traders, and workers badly need to operate. Look at NAIA and MRT bozo administrators who cannot even have the common sense to make a train line to connect the two points. Tourists who would have poured in money into our country are in dismay to see our laughable (more fun?) infrastructure. Do you think they will ever come back, or recommend our country as a tourist destination? Incompetence is a big loss to job-creating FDI and tourism.

Question 3: Which harms our democratic process most: corruption or incompetence?

Pro-corrupt camp: If not for “hello Garci” and other hocus pocus numerology tricks during elections, the people would have voted who they really wanted into leadership. Leaving critical decisions (such as choosing leaders) to dumb masses who don’t even know what’s good for themselves as individuals is such a crazy idea. We all know that the ruling oligarchs and politicians know best for the country, and that democracy in the Philippines is just a sham. It is but right to prevent these uneducated masses from having their way in elections, or else they will pull this entire country down the drain with them.

Pro-incompetent camp: Fellow countrymen, corruption is against what this country stands for as a democracy, because it cheats our people of their right of representation. Incompetent officials are what appeals to the masses, because it represents the people (incompetent themselves) as citizens of this democracy. So let the people have their way – if that is what they want. If the use of illogical tactics that appeal to emotion such as “my husband/mother/father just died, so please vote me” slogans are what they want to hear, so be it. The government should be of, for, and by the people, no matter how stupid they may be.

Who wins this debate?

Our judges (FVR & MDS) are having difficulty deciding which camp won this debate. They are inclined to recommend further deliberation in Senate hearings, but they believe it will just take too much of our highly paid lawmakers’ time. And if they do decide, the case will likely only move up to the Supreme Court due to third-party appeals for reconsideration. Eventually, even if a decision is made, nobody eventually stays behind bars, so they think this is just a useless exercise for the government to look into.

Our judges have therefore asked the people themselves to decide in a plebiscite: If Binay wins, corruption is the lesser evil. But if Roxas wins, it will be incompetence. So it’s all up to you guys – you be the judge.


A final satirical waiver: If the initials of camp members happen to match anyone you have in mind, then that is your hyper-active imagination at play.

25 Replies to “Corruption vs. Incompetence: Which is the Lesser Evil?”

  1. Mar Roxas represents both corruption, and incompetence. It is we, the people who are concerned, who must produce a good candidate among these clowns.

    If there are no good choices…produce a good choice. This is the solution.

    The trouble with us is: we just vote what are offered to us. The tactic of the ruling Oligarchs is to give us “choices”, their choices.Whoever you vote, incompetence and corruption always win. And their interests are always protected.

    Look at Feudalism. Why is it that the Land Reform Program is not implemented, whoever is elected?

    Because all the candidates are : landowners and oligarchs.

    These Clowns are rammed into out throats. And, we don’t even know it. Or we refuse to know it.

    1. I would rather have an incompetent candidate who sincerely want to try to lift the Failippines out of its miserable state, than a competetent candidate who is full of himself/herself.

      We all know the Failippines is full of competent– but equally aristocratic/self-serving–candidates who are so full of their bullshit selves.

  2. I would rather have an incompetent candidates who sincerely want to try to lift the Failippines out of its miserable state, than a competetent candidate who is full of himself/herself.

    We all know the Failippines is full of competent, but equally aristocratic/self-serving, candidates who are so full of their bullshit selves.

  3. I would rather have an incompetent candidate who sincerely want to try to lift the Failippines out of its miserable state, than a competetent candidate who is full of himself/herself.

    We all know the Failippines is full of competent, but equally aristocratic/self-serving, candidates who are so full of their bullshit selves.

  4. Unfortunately, if you’re honest and competent, you’ll either be forced out of government, or you die—remember what happened to Jesse Robredo.

    You can only have both at serious risk to your life.

  5. That is true. Honesty is a virtue that is not part of the Failipino vernacular—especially when their self-interests are at stake. Yea, Failipinos will try to convince others that they are virtuous and religious, but those are just fronts they like to project to the public in order to sell whatever it is they are selling.

  6. “Our unique strengths as a nation — our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery, our diversity, our commitment to rule of law — these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.” — Barack 0bama, SOTU, January 2016

    Whatever you think of Pareng Barack, you know that if same words were uttered by PNoy in a SONA here, everybody will be saying: na-noynoy na tayo talaga. PNoy simply CAN’T utter such words. Optimism? Hahaha. PNoy tried via his vacuous propaganda. But, look his ave growth of 5.9% is no different from that GMA, and yet GMA was hit by a global financial crisis. I shudder to think if PNoy was hit by the same crisis, we would all now be in a kangkungan. So, in a way we are lucky, but we know it was all propaganda because PHL has not met its MDG goals; 90% of its PPP projects remain in the drawing board; agriculture has been neglected vis-a-vis unprecedented smuggling; unemployment continues to grow, etc.

    Work ethic? My gosh, as Prez, he still finds time to play computer games and when out of his bat cave, drive fast cars. Spirit of discovery? All he wants to discover are things after the fact: SAF44, Zamboanga, MRT, Yolanda, Napoles, Luneta hostage, etc etc etc. Diversity? In the PHL, diversity is about selective justice, selective advice, selective KKK, selective this, selective that. Commitment to rule of law? Hahaha, the whole culture is about the ma-abilidad; each feels entitled above everybody else; impunity is tolerated, etc.

    There you have a picture of incompetence perpetuated. No wonder we are a third world that has veered in the last 5 years in the direction of a 4th world. Look again at the words in the last SOTU — how we have become so different from the 1st world. (And they say: never mind PNoy is not corrupt. So what is this I am hearing that Kris now owns the biggest Puregold in QC? Is this a gift from Lucio Co, the smuggler king?)

    So, let us get to the brass tacks. By most estimates, a presidential candidate needs minimum Php 15 Billion to run a successful campaign (8 Billion alone for the salaries of watchers nationwide during election and the week after.) So, who is the loko-loko who will run for president? Or Senator (who needs 2 Billion for his own campaign)? Of course, it is the incompetent who has the courage of a fool and who is blinded by incredible ambition. Or, the corrupt.
    And, with years since EDSA1, it has become more clear there is no other choice PNoys could make.

    Binay, Poe, Mar, DU30, MDS, and Senires are all the same. You can choose any, and the ship will still be sinking. Binay will build parking building in every municipality, parking even for carabaos. Poe will become the most expensive OJT, and celebrities, actors, etc will get rich. Mar will install the Cubao cronies as the new oligarchs to replace KKK. DU30, tang-na, will institutionalize selective justice. MDS will die in office. The snake’s pit that is Malacañang will definitely overrun the mediocre Senires.

    We need to overhaul the entire system. People need to revolt, not vote for the lesser evil.

    Think people. US and EU will still insist on the BBL to move the ISIS problem to Asia and give them a breather. China will become more aggressive, maybe that is why ISIS will be in Asia. Powers-that-be would of course want to confine any conflict in some damned archipelago at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, afterall Pinoys are irrelevant to world affairs. Hot money has started flowing out of our shores; FDI will decrease further with ASEAN integration. Even local capital will venture into other ASEAN countries as they have cheaper energy cost and are lesser affected by climate change vs PHL. Unemployment will worsen as OFWs come home; Saudi will use low price oil to stop Iran from benefitting from embargoes lifted (each will risk a lose-lose proposition). Local oligarchs will continue neglecting agriculture as there is more money in importation and smuggling. And people here cannot think beyond today, and no employer would want to employ such people. Etc etc etc.

    Again, optimism and work ethic, spirit of discovery, diversity, commitment to rule of law …. are the things we need. We need the environment for these to flourish. Right now, we have the opposite environment and that is why as the sun rises from the east, no doubt, the ship will sink.


    1. >> Poe will become the most expensive OJT, and celebrities, actors, etc will get rich.

      That’s a good one, Add. And by the time Poe completes her 6-year OJT, she’ll be ready for a real job when she returns to her home in the first world (USA).

      This totally aligns with “PH as a big school” model.

  7. It does not matter anyway. Democracy is a scam and if elections would really change anything in the Philippines, they would be against the law.

  8. Before the death of Aquino the First Incompetent I thought Manny Villar would be President. He was a thief, but at least he was an EFFICIENT thief.

  9. maybe I’m hopelessly naive, but I think there is still hope for the Philippines, provided the leader that gets elected is at least honest enough to admit to some incompetence and some distortion of the truth, but with enough sincerity to keep trying his/her best. The Philippines has never been a failed state – yet, and by the grace of God should be able to aspire to far better than ever before.We may not become a Singapore, but we have the capacity to become successful, prosperous, and happy – provided we become truly ‘inclusive’ instead of paying that word lip service.

  10. Question, which is better right now The presidential candidates for the year 2016 the Philippines or the USA? I personally would have to pick the Philippines right now. Trump is scary and Hillary is is responsible for letting top secret emails get leaked. No candidate in the Philippines can match these two right now. The next best person is Ted Cruz who was not born in America.

  11. Corruption vs Incompetence

    In my observation it’s basically the same, because

    You’re already incompetent if you’re corrupt. And you’re corrupt if you’re incompetent (merely puppet of corrupt people).

    “Corruption in my definition is the product of an IDLE or LAZY Mind(AMPAW) selfishness/greed and materialism because corrupt people/Leaders do not realize the consequence of pocketing public funds, receiving bribes, or harass and extort money from innocent & law abiding people. Money should be circulated around to create more business opportunities, employment, expenditures, to fuel the economy and is not meant to enrich themselves or to hold on to power.” by Dale Gozar

    1. They may be strongly related and one can cause the other, but I’d still see them to be fundamentally different:
      Corruption is a matter of morality (right/wrong).
      Incompetence is more an issue of lack of skill/ability.

      E.g. A corrupt pilot would secretly siphon some of the jet fuel designated for the plane in the company he works for to run his personal vehicle.

      But an incompetent pilot is one who can’t land the plane safely on the runway.

      Corruption is actually more “evil” in the sense of right/wrong; but incompetence is usually worse in terms of overall cost/loss in life/property.

      The SAF44 debacle was an incompetence issue – it proved to be very costly. Binay’s overpriced buildings (corruption) at least did not involve loss of life. But evil nonetheless.

      Anyway both are bad. Will it be Mr. Corrupt or Mr. incompetent for president – it’s a tough choice. It makes the “vote wisely” admonition doubly hard to apply in PH.

  12. Reliability and objectivity wins the day… Link – even a slightly corrupt government can be good if it does its job well and can be relied upon. South Korea had its corrupt stage of development before cleaning things up. But the issue is that most Filipino politicians have been unreliable especially from the point of view of foreign investors – and internally.

  13. Both of 32 years of MADPnoy Hacienda luisita self interest Corruption of dumbdowning failippines from an Apo lakay Marcos Masagana99 legacy of Great nation Philippines first world status into a third world status of pagpag eaters and cemetery dwellers that connived with the economic hitmen of Marcos destruction, as what the John Perkins book revealed in one of the EHM titled in Marcos Destruction of the Philippines.

  14. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

  15. The question should be how can a competent leader be corrupt, pejoratively acceptable to say that any corrupt leader is incompetent, even the smallest class of job demands honesty and integrity, what more if you are the head of state, Filipino should aspire for excellence in a leader, a leader who walks the walk and talks the talk.

  16. the problem is that incompetence has as effect corruption so there is no debate there. A competent person is not corruptible… Not sure what this bs debate is about being stupid or being stupid is the same…

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