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Either you have it or you don’t

09:21 PM July 31, 2013

It’s hard to believe what I’ve been reading in the newspapers lately concerning the Bureau of Customs (BoC).  Stalwarts of the agency have been resigning their jobs left and right and dropping them like a hot potato because “powerful forces” are making it difficult for them to do their job!

They’re all, no doubt, highly educated gentlemen and well-trained in leadership and management; one of them is even a retired general from the Army. And yet, they all admit one thing:  They don’t have the guts to do anything about those “powerful forces.”  They would rather run away from them than confront them head on—a classic example of our “patronage mentality” that’s so ingrained in our culture. What’s sad to imagine is, if we have those type of leaders in BoC, surely, there must be more of them in other agencies of the government.

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No wonder the government is always in a state of chaos.  We can’t distinguish right from wrong and are too scared to step on people’s toes because we put high priority on other people’s feelings even if what that means is trampling on our pride and integrity and putting a question mark on our conscience, not to mention sacrificing our country’s progress. We’re too nice a people and too gun-shy to hurt feelings.  Never mind if those feelings only encourage those so-called “powerful forces” to flex their muscles even more.

Our “leaders” in the BoC would rather quit and give up their job because they don’t have the spine to do what is right, if doing right means going against the grain of the patronage system.  They would rather be nice than gritty in order to satisfy the unwritten code of our mighty and highly honored patronage mentality.

Well, the whole nation can keep on bitching about corruption in our government, but it won’t do any good.  Not until our leaders, those to whom the faith of our country is entrusted,  wake up and face the reality that niceties can only go to a certain extent; that stepping on people’s toes is sometimes a necessary “evil” (if, in fact, it can be considered evil), and that doing what your conscience dictates is the ultimate rule to follow if we want this country to achieve progress, prosperity and stability.

—JUANITO T. FUERTE, [email protected]

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Government, Padrino, patronage politics
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