‘Also ourselves to blame’
Why do we allow opportunists and thieves in the top echelons of our democracy? Every now and then we get to unmask the most corrupt among the high-ranking officials in our government, and yet we fail, despite an excellent opportunity, to punish them. Due process should be allowed to run its course but not for too long. More so, in graft and corruption cases, where we are all victims—twice over when justice is delayed. But even the most hardworking lawyers and well-meaning judges become helpless in the face of the dilatory tactics of mercenary counsels.
We ought to support those who expose venalities in government. “Ganyan naman sila lahat sa taas, eh. Lahat sila corrupt (They’re all the same up there, corrupt)!” This is the idea that corrupt officials would like the general public to submit to. And even some of the otherwise smart political analysts have embraced this ridiculous line.
One day, an underpaid construction worker, desperate about his miserable fate, steals groceries in a nearby wet market to feed his family, gets caught, is mauled, and is put in jail that very day, where he stays for many years.
On the other hand, hardened criminals rob a bank, kill the security guards, tellers and bank clients. The question hangs: Would they ever be hauled to court and imprisoned?
Meanwhile, a government official steals hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pesos from the public coffers through kickbacks; on the side, he gives away candies and soft drinks to his constituents. When he gets caught, we keep close watch of the scandal for a time. But then we get tired of hearing about it and eventually dismiss it as part of our political landscape—our interest coming to life again in the next scandal, only to fade as well.
Ironically, public servants who steal big are idolized while those with pure intentions and sincere contributions to the nation are made sacrificial lambs. And we wonder why our country is in such a mess?
We, ordinary citizens, should stop being part of the problem: by supporting those who brave the odds to expose the truth; by not idolizing crooks in government and politics and, well, in the private sector—who rob our people blind through through tax evasion, smuggling, etc. The media, for their part, should temper their lust for profit, go slow on sensationalism in pursuit of high ratings, and guide instead their audience to fair, objective and sound thinking. The national leadership should be consistent in its “daang matuwid” journey and prosecute the crooks even if they are allies, and trust that well-meaning, enlightened citizens will be with it all the way to the end of its remaining year and a half, and beyond. Just do what is right!
Let us elect honest leaders who are willing to serve even without the Priority Development Assistance Fund or the Disbursement Acceleration Program or, to put it simply, any pork barrel—and who have integrity, competence, experience and a strategic mind, founded on family-centered
values, genuine love of country and strong faith in God.
If we continue to tolerate these unworthy characters in politics and business, we have also ourselves to blame!
—TIRSO G. SERRANO,
San Pedro, Laguna
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