Fixers in the Philippines: Will You Need One?

beware on fixers

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.

swimsuit beauties manggahanLocal eye candy from Guimaras which has absolutely nothing to do with this story

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.


philippine bureau of immigration


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.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

12 thoughts on “Fixers in the Philippines: Will You Need One?

  1. Dave,
    There was an American guy on Facebook that flat out said he would turn in any foreigner that was here illegally. I think someday they may find him dead somewhere.

    1. I think you might be right, Papa Duck. I’ve run into a couple of guys like that but that’s their business. But Immigration is one thing I’m not going to mess with. I’ll obey all the Immigration laws since I personally don’t want to risk getting deported.

  2. Dave, I recall one foreigner describing on his website the process of getting electricity from the power company installed on his rural property. He finally got the electricity installed on his rural property by the power company, but he said that if he could do it all over again, he would install solar panels and a windmill instead, because the cost would be similar and the process would be a lot less hassle.

    1. I do know of a foreigner that is off the grid and is using solar panels, Lance. It is something to look into. We have checked with Joery, our foreman/brother-in-law, who has a relative in Manila selling solar panels. However, the business Joery’s relative represents only is selling commercial sized panels which are running at 1 million pesos. We need to check out some other sources but our bills have been under 2,700 pesos a month and there’s six people in our household. There are existing utility poles right across the road from us. The nipa hut isn’t even finished yet but once it is, Melinda and Joery will submit the necessary paperwork to our utility and we’ll see how it goes. Something which is a simple process in the States becomes much more difficult in the Philippines which is why, along with being one of the most corrupt nations in the world, is also listed as one of the most difficult nations to do business in. The 2015 World Bank Index for Ease of Doing Business ranks the Philippines 108th out of 189 countries, just above Paraguay, Pakistan, Lebanon and Ukraine.

  3. I have only used a “fixer” once. Upon arriving, after reading an E-book by some old crusty expat that lives where mangos are grown, I went to the nearby LTO to get my drivers license converted. Was met at a gate by a fixer who lead me through the stations. It cost me P150. While he was “assisting” me, I kept my eyes open and noticed that almost all signs were in English, there were information stations scattered around and that most employees seemed helpful. Since then I have not needed a fixer. Just read the instructions, have patience and keep my cool.

    Personally I think the idea of “fixers” are ingrained culturally here in the Filipino mind. Even when things don’t need to be fixed or helped along it just comes natural. I know when we had our final house inspection by the city inspectors my wife had food set out and an envelope ready for them. Even though we took no short cuts during construction and paid for top quality material and instillation. I asked my brother in law, why are we bribing them? We have nothing to fear. I was just told “that’s the way it is.”

    P.S. Was at the Manila BI last week, no fixers in sight, lots of people but seemed fairly efficient.

    1. Ahhh, Scott H, you are taking advice from a crusty old expat? Hmmmm. You’re a brave one, after all you did fight in Iraq. That old fart is currently selling his book on Amazon in paperback form and is updating his digital version for 2015 and is slated for release next month.

      OK, I absolutely have no problem about using a facilitator if the need arises. Sometimes that’s the only way to get things done here, as you well know, Scott. And you are correct, the idea of fixers is ingrained culturally. When I first arrived in the Philippines I would wary of waiting at wrong lines at the pump boat wharf in Guimaras. One of our regular porters, Joseph or Neil, who still hangs onto the mullet fashion, would always run over and get a ticket for me. But now, I have Melinda wait after the ticket taker pissed me off and said if I wanted to use the senior line I would have to show ID. I’m 62. 60 is the mandated senior citizen age. But why stress? Let the asawa do all the heavy lifting. 😉

      When I go to LTO I probably wouldn’t mind if someone offered me some help. 🙂

      Thanks much for sharing your insight, Scott. Well I know of an expat on our island who absolutely refuses to grease anyone’s palms. It might be noted that this individual, according to my sources, still does not have a title to his property after waiting 14 years. To each his own.

      Good to hear you weren’t approached by any fixers at BI. Frankly, I’m amazed to hear that.

  4. After hiring a attorney to complete the sale of our homestead we hired a gentleman to run around and get our title completed. It has been a year now and still waiting [some of the problems was the land office in tacloban was destroyed by Yolanda]but the paper work has finally been accepted by the BIR and hopefully completed next month. The attorney and fixer had been used by my brother in law in 3 different purchases of land

    1. Thanks for the comment, Gary. Well, we have been approached by the survey company that did a recent survey for us and says for P40,000 they can do the title transfer in two months. We’re going to check with the Vice-Governor’s son in nearby Iloilo to see what he will charge us. It took my wife over 10 years to get the subdivision owner to sign off on some other property my wife has on our province and that title work still hasn’t been

      My brother-in-law paid the fire inspector for my father-in-law’s nipa hut 500 pesos to expedite matters, usually takes five days, the inspector came the same day.

      Now we have problems with the so-called utility company Guimelco. Their inspector was supposed to come last week. Then he said couldn’t come because of the Guimelco Christmas party. The inspector then told my brother-in-law he would come yesterday morning. No show in the morning. My wife called. She was advised the inspector would come after lunch. 4:30 pm, no inspector yet. I call” “Hopefully he will be there, sir.” Of course, he didn’t come.


  5. I’m overstaying tourist visa 2+ years, and married to a filipina. I’m afraid to go to BI Intramuros, feel certain that extortion is waiting

    1. Well, Robert, your best option is to go to your local Immigration office. More than likely you will have to pay a fine based on your overstay. It’s doubtful that you would be kicked out of the country, especially if you are cooperative.

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