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PH’s lingering albatross

01:05 AM September 21, 2015

AS A developing nation we clamor for prosperity with anticipation—everyone awaits it, leaders predict it, and politicians eagerly talk about it. But not knowing our past and without manifest improvement of character on the part of our government leaders, those whom we bestow the reins of authority, reaching our “promised land” would be a tedious journey and far, even unreachable destination.

History shows our country has had its ample share of official wrongdoing. When we were a colony of Spain, some governors general, in order to avoid punishment and dismissal for abuse of power, bribed the (court) Residencia and the visitador general, the two agencies that reported the affairs of the colony to the king of Spain. In the 1960s, the names of several members of our Congress were allegedly included in a book kept by Harry Stonehill, an American businessman who held a list of those involved in his big-time illegal dealings and transactions. Stonehill was later deported to prevent the exposure of those involved.

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Today, allegations of wrongdoing by officials in government continue. Year in and year out, accounting of government funds is at best dubious. Expenditures and debts are incurred with no “comparable” indication to show what they are worth, tangible or otherwise. In retrospect, South Korea, Malaysia and other Asian neighbors not too long ago were poorer countries, but they now enjoy a substantially higher standard of living than we do (e.g., better education, transportation system, government services). It boggles the mind why poverty continues to haunt us with a standard of living way below our peers in the region. We are an industrious and productive people with many skills and talents. And we have laws and freedom to help us stand as a nation and people.

This must be because of the ways of our past.

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This nation stood down under the abusive watch of our colonizers. Under Spain, we were maltreated and abused such that we suffered tremendous social and psychological ruin. Nonetheless, our ancestors ardently fought for self-rule and for us to exercise our inherent right to live our own lives.

Our leaders today seem oblivious of the ways of the past. As we exert ourselves to rise as a nation, many of them take freedom for granted, disregarding our struggles and choosing their personal interest over those of the people they swore to serve. At a time when they ought to see themselves “enlightened saviors” who would “part the waters” for us, they instead keep to the road taken by their discredited predecessors. And they edify the culture of wrongdoing in government.

When our officials and leaders will have embraced the value of honor and integrity and pledge to stand on the side of history, then we shall have solved the Gordian knot. “Promised land” will then be something we can await with anticipation.

—JULIUS TURGANO, [email protected]

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TAGS: bribery, corruption, Government, History, opinion, politics
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