The English language is strewn with word pairs such as, peace and order, cease and desist, time and space.  And, in this country, there is not a single issue of an English language newspaper where you will not find the most popular word pair of all time: graft and corruption.

Just what does graft and corruption mean?  What is the difference between these two words?  There is a whale of a difference.

To put it quite simply: graft is when you pay for something legal; corruption is when you pay for something illegal.

Let us say you go to the Land Transportation Office to renew your driver’s license. There is a bunch of people ahead of you and the receiving clerk places your application under a pile of other applications.

Since you do not have the time to wait, you slip a P100 bill to the clerk.  Miracle of miracles, your application rises to the top of the heap. You are out of the office in minutes. What happened was unfair but not really illegal.  That is graft.

Now, let us say you want to get a driver’s license for your spoiled underage grandson.  When you hand over fake papers on your grandson, you slip a P1,000 bill to the section chief.  The driver’s license is approved quickly.  That is corruption.

Graft is not necessarily wrong. In most cases, graft takes the form of a tip for quick but legal service. Graft, not love, is what makes the world go ‘round.

Corruption is always wrong.  Because it is wrong, it is always expensive. And, in the end, everybody suffers for it.

But, we Filipinos should not wring our wretched hearts over the corruption in our country.  Corruption is world-wide, pandemic, and has been around us far longer than H1N1.

Next time around, I will pass on an article on world-wide corruption. Watch for it!


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