Unless you have been living with your eye shut and your ears plugged you will have noticed there is a new president in the Philippines. The new president set out his stall by saying he would stamp out corruption and make the law work the same for everyone. If like me you have been here for any amount of time you will have learned to live with the corruption and figured out how to deal with it and almost make it work for you.
What now the rules of engagement have changed not completely but the ground is no longer as dependable as it was before. This is true for simple things like an over zealous traffic cop to government workers you may need to help you sort out a visa or other documents you may need. It was relatively easy to deal with before you could pay your way through it without much of an issue, well except you had to pay for stuff people should do for free but it did make things doable.
So now the corruption has decreased it’s a good thing right! Well maybe not as now you don’t know who can be paid to do things and who cant and will likely report you for trying to bride them. What I have found is you can no longer openly offer money to people you now have to play a little game were you ask them is there anything we can do to make this work a little easier and listen to what they say, from this you will get the feeling if money will help sort it or not!.
I can give you good examples how the change in the rules of engagement have ruined what was once nice and smooth. Last year we paid money to get a registration place for our car that meant we could drive even on days were we should have been colour coded out, for those who don’t know the Philippines has a rule were all cars are banned from driving for one working day per week, this day is different for each car so for me it was Mondays. So we paid for this plate not illegal but it was bought from the police chief and cost about 10k a year. This seemed like an ok deal for us as we need to take the kids to school each day as it’s not walk able distance. After the new president was in palace he talked about no more Wang Wang yes sounds weird but its all about not allowing government or elected officials to have priority on the roads, unfortunately for us this also effected the plate we used to drive on Monday. We thought ok we will go complain and get the money back as we had only had the plate for 2 months, but well this is the Philippines, so what did we hear, oh sorry sir the police chief who ran this has now been removed. Whether this guy was replaced or was now hiding as hundreds of people looking for their money back your guess is as good as ours. Give the amounts of money involved was large, we figured there must have been a few thousand of these given out and at 10k a pop this is big money.
So I can defiantly say for us the new administration has made things worse and more difficult to work your way around. We run a company and the same thing applied here as well, before things that could take months to sort out could be done in hours or days if you were prepared to oil the wheels, now we are in the position were the government workers are now worse than they were before as they used to top up the pay with bribes are now being watched so they cant, this has left them not wanting to do anything so things have ground to a halt or at best very very slow.
All seems like doom and gloom maybe but not completely as i think generally speaking for the local population things may improve as they don’t tend to be singled out like white guys for bribes. Also we have now started to get the phone calls again looking for help form government departments and police so maybe things are starting to free up again and the different government workers have figured out what they can and cannot do so maybe back to normal service may be on its way.
I know some people will believe this article is completely negative and I admit some of it is but it is also meant to show that some things have changed for local people which for them is good news, not quite some much for us foreign people but then again it was never easy before so this is the same if just a little more challenging