CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 17 July) – No one likes to admit committing an unseemly act, let alone an unpatriotic one, and not especially habitual liars like traditional politicos or trapos.
Catch anyone red-handed, and he would rather lie and cheat and point a finger at others rather than admit to a crime. Ask Bong or Jinggoy and see if this isn’t so.
It’s only human to avoid shame or disgrace; but to deny it if it’s the truth is cowardly and unbecoming. That’s why it’s difficult to indict high officials like senators. They’re egotistic, so full of themselves, think themselves above the law, and actually believe they can do no wrong.
But deep down they know that to be uncovered as a hypocrite can be intolerably shameful, devastating to one’s ego, difficult to live with. They know it, so there’s no need to tiptoe around them if there’s probable cause, no reason to be lenient, especially if they keep up the pretense and strike a defiant pose.
When caught in the act or exposed, such politicos would rather lie to their teeth, dissemble, appeal to emotion, or point fingers at others. This is all the more reason not to be lenient, not to show mercy, so they’ll learn to respect the law. Dura lex, sed lex! Charges must be filed, indictments swift, to teach them a lesson.
We should toughen up on criminals who dare to presume they’re above the law, who act like the high and mighty, but plead for exceptional treatment.
Such people need to be cut down to size, to never forget they are just public servants—stewards of society. Because of them, the anxiety level in our society is rising perilously high, fearing them and their depredations to be unstoppable.
Unless society asserts itself and moves against them, the public’s sense of helplessness and the perception of impunity in high places may give rise to acts of desperation against misbehaving officials and corrupt institutions, inducing an outpouring of uncontrollable rage.
Not least, those who commit treachery against the nation but go noticed should be sought out and dealt with to the full extent of the law. There is, for instance, an increasing number of opportunists who sell out to foreign interests at the expense of our environment: the venal collaborators of defiant Chinese poachers who harvest thousands of our endangered marine species.
In hidden coves in various islands, there are black sand contractors who illegally scoop up this rare industrial raw material without regard to hazards posed to seaside communities, the environment, and the depletion of our national wealth.
There are also those who destroy whole mountains by crumbling them and carting away the mineral-rich lumps of soil, loading them onto coastal freighters for shipping abroad. Some of our citizens are selling their homeland literally—the land of their birth!—aliens.
In the process, they erode the area’s topography, change its geography, and despoil the environment without regard to greater consequences yet to be determined.
Their depredations take place under the noses of conniving officials who readily get away with well-rehearsed alibis and rationalization. Appropriate action on these is imperative before damage to the environment reaches irremediable scale.
It is time crimes against the environment are treated as plunder and sabotage of nature’s endowment to the Filipino people. Our natural resources were provided by the Almighty to sustain life and give livelihood and enjoyment for all generations, not just ours.
Officials who abet crimes against the environment deserve perpetual infamy and disgrace.
To stop the plunder, stern measures are imperative. Urgent warnings must be dealt to those who may think of further transgression against our heritage and irreplaceable benefits.
In the minds and hearts of everyone must be embedded a scrupulous conscience about the need to abhor such activities and attitudes even as efforts must be made to remove occasions that tempt the faint of heart.
We must cultivate an assertive brand of sovereignty matched by a fierce sense of patriotism and protectiveness for our birthright, and hope that the same sense will tug at the conscience of those who rise to positions of responsibility to assume the stewardship of our common possessions and birthright.
As a corollary, we should strive to develop in our citizens a compelling sense of discrimination and selectiveness about the few who aspire to high responsibility, even as we strive to weed out the unworthy and others with misplaced ambitions.
Henceforth, campaigning, supporting, financing, or electing dubious candidates ought to be viewed through the prism of their effects on the community and society at large. Our political values should be geared towards responsible citizenship and fastidious stewardship by the chosen few.
“Ambition should be made of sterner stuff!”—said Marc Antony. Does anyone or any group bother to look into the stuff of which their political idols are made?
Of what stuff are Tanda, Pogi, and Sexy made that merited them the highest honor a sovereign citizen can confer upon another citizen? Such honor ought to be given only with very deep circumspection and thorough consideration.
How about the rest in Congress? What sort of stuff are they made of? And what are the do-nothings and say-nothings still doing in those hallowed halls?
[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director at Development Academy of Philippines; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. firstname.lastname@example.org]