Fixers in the Philippines are as common as ladyboy hookers at KTV bars. They’re probably in every corner, crack and crevice throughout all 7,107 islands of this archipelago (along with the ladyboys.) In the latest report released by Transparency International, the Philippines climbed to 85th place from 94th last year and 105th in 2012 in the Corruption Index. This is being touted as a remarkable improvement by an administration which has jailed three opposition senators while members of their own party accused of similar crimes go unpunished.
Corruption continues to thrive in the Philippines.
“Fixer” refers to any individual whether or not officially involved in the operation of a government office or agency who has access to people working therein, and whether or not in collusion with them, facilitates speedy completion of transactions for pecuniary gain or any other advantage or consideration. (Republic Act 9485)
I’ve been living in the Philippines with my Filipina wife of nearly 15 years for over five years now. I’ve seen fixers at the Immigration Office in Intramuros. They were thicker than fleas on a mangy mutt that’s been rolling around in carabao crap. And I’ve encountered employees at BI who were openly offering to “fix” my Permanent Resident Visa. One of these fixers used to work at the main ACR, Alien Certificate Registration, window. Is she still there? Don’t know. Haven’t been to the Bureau of Immigration in Manila for years and hope I never have to return to that Highway to Hell.
Has the situation at the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines improved? Again, I don’t know. Current Commissioner Mison seems to be on a personal vendetta against foreigners that makes it more difficult for legal expats to live here, with policies such as the Alien Registration Project, ARP. But I personally know that our local Immigration Office at Iloilo had a couple of corrupt employees weeded out earlier this year. I was extremely glad to hear that.
But hell, have you seen Mison’s new campaign? Check out this graphic featuring a Filipina Immigration cartoon character with perky breasts: “Sa Immigration Magsumbong. Report illegal aliens and be part of our campaign: Good guys in. Bad guys out” Rat out an illegal and Immigration will pay you 2,000 pesos, 45 bucks. Instead of concentrating on corrupt employees in their department, Mison is focusing on foreigners. Go figure.
But do YOU need fixers in the Philippines?
Depends on how patient you are and how much frustration you can put up with. Or if you’re really a dumb ass, how much trouble you get yourself into. We’re currently dealing with our local utility company to have electrical service established at our new property location in Guimaras. My much more patient wife had to sit through a four hour long seminar for new subscribers. Better her than me. The service will be in her name, not mine.
After our nipa hut is built we have to take a picture of the building and bring it to our new barangay captain and he will issue a certification that my wife has to turn into the power company along with a copy of our marriage contract and the deed of sale to our land. Then a work order is placed.
How long will it take to get electrical service? God only knows. Good thing we have renewed the lease at “The Farm,” a house and property we currently reside in, for another year. I have set no time table for the new construction nor do I plan to establish one. This is the Philippines where the majority of the people run on “Filipino Time.” If you try to impose your Western-style time restrictions on the locals here, you will find your stress level climbing to unbelievable heights. Why put yourself through that? Save yourself a heart attack and relax. And hire a fixer, if you really think you need one, to expedite matters. It’s up to you.
It makes no difference to me personally if you use the services of an “expidter.” Of course, this might only be helping to perpetuate the ongoing cycle of corruption in the Philippines but I stopped thinking about everything in black and white years ago. Call me a cynic. Call me a realist. But never forget to call me for supper.