End immoral ‘traditions’ in May polls

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Our shameless senators are proving that they all need to be replaced. All of them took Christmas “cash gifts.” Some just complained because others got more, but no one denounced the immorality of the “tradition,” accepting it as legal because it was already the standard operating practice.

President Aquino broke tradition when he espoused “daang matuwid”: He didn’t pick up his immediate predecessor’s penchant for plunder. The military’s top brass stopped the “pabaon” tradition in the Armed Forces of the Philippines although this had become SOP under several chiefs of staff. And so far, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and a few other government offices notorious for crooked dealings are getting rid of deeply embedded dishonest SOPs. These are but a few examples of busted things getting fixed given a bit of political will. And the global accolades caused by these reforms have made the Philippines the toast of investors and tourists.

Lack of principle, propensity for plunder and addiction to power are deeply ingrained in the Philippine political system. These flaws enable gambling lords and drug lords to dominate Philippine society with their ruthlessness and cash. That the Commission on Elections has identified 889 of the country’s 1,600 local government units as hot spots in the coming elections is a clear sign of the need for the Filipino people to stand up and tell their leaders: “Enough!”

Let’s start by not reelecting any of the incumbent senators now seeking to be returned to the Senate. We can get the other 12 replaced in 2016. But let’s also make sure that we don’t elect front men of the gambling and drug syndicates at the local levels. That should continue the cleanup begun by the election of P-Noy.

If we Filipinos don’t seize the 2013 elections as the time to start denying crooks access to government funds, we better not blame anyone else for our country’s inability to win the war against poverty, hunger and lawlessness.

—JOSE OSIAS,

jzosias@gmail.com

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