TURNING POINT: Honesty is Passé

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 27 Sep) – I remember. In grade school, the walls of our classrooms were decorated with framed pictures of the country’s national heroes. And the common fixture on top of the blackboards is the slogan that has been indelibly etched in my mind: “Honesty is the Best Policy.”

By an ironic, cruel twist of fate, the erstwhile politician from Davao, Sara Duterte, who does not believe in honesty as a virtue required in government service, became Vice President of the Republic and is now concurrent Secretary of Education as appointed by President Bongbong Marcos. Marcos, apparently, finds great use of the Sara Duterte persona – her Machiavellian attitude on dishonesty, which fits well in the herculean effort of the Marcos family to revise history in refurbishing its badly tarnished image. The grand design is to glamorize the achievements of martial law and put under the rug the unspeakable human rights abuses, corruption and plunder of the regime. What better place to do it than in the field of education. To beautify ugliness in the minds of the young demands so much dishonesty. They found their man.

It’s scary but with an honesty non-believer in the helm of education, the honesty slogan of my childhood might now read:

“Honesty is a Stupid Policy.”

Would the national heroes be replaced, too, with famous villains in Philippine history? That requires a little research, but already one candidate is an unmistakable pick, if ever: the dictator President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. Then the photos of father and son Marcos may now hang side by side in classrooms, as it has of late been practiced to plaster classroom walls with images of incumbent Philippine presidents.

Many wondered why VP and Secretary Duterte has asked for a multimillion budget for confidential fund when her offices are not concerned with the security of the state. In so doing, she looks too impatient as president-in-waiting, overly excited, before her time, to experience the presidential prerogative of spending a large sum of money with nary a worry of public accountability.

Confidential fund is officially addressed to surveillance and intelligence or information gathering activities on known or suspected enemies of the state. Its expenditure is hands off to public scrutiny, even to the Commission on Audit. The taxpayers will never exactly know whether the fund is really used for state purpose or for personal use. Transparency is no issue. Honesty is not a required policy in its use. No wonder.

Honesty is passé.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)