In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines is counting its dead and assessing the massive damage to infrastructure from the storm, a prominent commentator notes.
The Philippines suffers from bad luck, and as one of the poorest countries in East Asia, it could not be expected to have the storm warning systems and storm-safe infrastructure of countries, like Japan or Singapore, writes Council on Foreign Relations analyst Joshua Kurlantzick:
Still, the horrific quality of infrastructure in the Philippines certainly has made these storms deadlier. Because the Philippines is one of the most unequal and corrupt countries in Asia, funds for housing projects, roads, and seawalls and other public monies routinely vanish into the pockets of political dynasties; before the typhoon the country was riveted by a high-profile case involving massive slush funds amassed by several prominent politicians.
In a project funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group, the Center for International Private Enterprise is working to improve the quality of public governance and expand the network of cities, public agencies and civil sector organizations committed to reducing corruption and implementing good governance.
“Although President Benigno Aquino has made some inroads into fighting corruption, his administration still faces an uphill battle, and many areas, including Leyte, remain dominated by patronage networks and a few political clans,’ Kurlantzick notes:
The most recent high-profile corruption scandal appears to have catalyzed middle-class Filipino sentiment, potentially leading to the type of public outcry against corruption that could actually turn the country’s political course. In the terrible aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, public pressure to reduce graft in construction projects, and to focus more intensely on upgrading infrastructure, would be at least one positive outcome.