The Importance of Anti-Corruption in the Philippines Typhoon Recovery


A quiet sunset on Pacific Islands.  B. Pinkowski
A quiet sunset on Pacific Islands. B. Pinkowski

In the space of one day, the essential services of organized society were wiped away from a community in the Philippines by Super Typhoon Haiyan.   From the moment people became aware the typhoon would strike, the race was on.

Water, Shelter, Food, Medical Care, Physical Safety, Communication, and a means to obtain those things – the immediate targets of survival.

What does this have to do with anti-corruption?

Anti-corruption is more than fighting crime – it is about the decay of government’s ability to provide protections for the survival of its people.

In an earlier article (here), and related videos (here and here), I’ve talked about the five (5) characteristics of a group:

  1. Identity
  2. Purpose
  3. Ability to carry out Group Purpose
  4. Intent to Survive into the Future
  5. Ability to defend itself.

A catastrophic event such as Super Typhoon Haiyan attacks all five (5) of those characteristics in one blow.

Military, law enforcement and the criminal justice system, civil law, administrative law and regulations, and social expectations – These systems are critical and affect more than one of these characteristics.   Natural disasters throw those tools into immediate disarray – in most communities.

Societies that have the ability to pull together and meet survival needs in the face of natural disasters have strong group characteristics that don’t rely on government, but are facilitated by government.  These societies are worthy of study.

Successful societies that rely on government expect government to provide and attempt to guarantee access to these fundamental survival targets in order to keep society surviving now and into the future.

An event such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, wipes those structures away, confuses the leadership responsible for keeping those structures operable, and leaves people looking for relationships and groups they can use to assure their immediate survival.

Where an individual’s survival is measured in hours or days, people will find or obtain what they need – without waiting for government.

Where a government fails to provide and guarantee these protections, the requirements of government are set aside and people and groups will immediately step into the gap, meeting these needs, with their own rules.

We don’t have to wait for times of crisis to find examples of government’s failure to provide basic protections.  However, when crises such as Typhoon Haiynan or Hurricane Katrina in the US, we often find the most organized groups with the communication and logistics in place to respond are the criminal groups, as discussed in The Organic Nature of Corruption.

Accordingly, we see the Philippines government scrambling to meet those basic survival needs to the people of the affected area.

Their ability to succeed in these efforts will hopefully fulfill their promise to their people, strengthens their legitimacy and reduces opportunities for criminal organizations to gain entry into the survival structures of the affected area.

Brian Pinkowski (google.com/+BrianPinkowski)

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