“Honesty is not enough; demand honesty and integrity” – Fr. Alejo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 January) –  Honesty may be the best policy but it is not enough, Jesuit priest Albert Alejo, project leader of the Ehem anti-corruption movement, told the roundtable forum “Maguindanao after 11.23: Building public accountability and transparency.”

Jesuit priest Albert Alejo, project leader of the Ehem anti-corruption movement. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco“Honesty is not enough. That is the side of supply. We have to learn the demand side of honesty. Demand honesty, integrity,” he told the forum Tuesday morning at the Waterfront Insular Hotel attended by  Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, 6th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, journalists, students, teachers and representatives of non-governmental organizations from Maguindanao and Davao City.

“Some people promote honesty. Honesty is the best policy. Not exactly. Some people are so honest and transparent,” Alejo noted,  citing mansions and other ostentatious display of wealth.

“Some are more than honest,  they are brazen. Walang hiya,” he added.

“Corruption is violence. Corruption kills. Corruption taunts, demoralizes people,” Alejo stressed.

He said in the Davao City port, “we’re losing 35 million pesos a month” because of corruption.

“Ilang paracetamol na ‘yan?” (How many tablets of paracetamol can that buy)?

It is important to fight corruption and promote transparency, integrity, Alejo, a social anthropologist, repeatedly said, because “corruption is violence, corruption kills.”

There is “no more graphic case than this,” he said of the Ampatuan Massacre.

“If corruption is violence then those fight corruption are actually peacemakers,” he said.

Interfaith dialogues, he said, should be strengthened by putting anti-corruption in the agenda.

“Corruption  destroys and mocks even inter-faith dialogue. It trivializes dialogue and religion itself,” he said, adding, “mag-uusuap tayo, dialogue, tapos patuloy pa rin ang corruption…” (we talk, we go into dialogue but corruption continues).

“Demand honesty, integrity. Just being honest is not enough.”

Among the basic things he noted is that “hindi tayo tinuruan mag-demand ng receipt” (we were not taught to demand receipts).

“Honesty is not enough. We have to learn to demand honesty, information. Public trust is not just in government officials but also citizenship itself is a public trust.”

Addressing the journalists in the crowd, Alejo said “blessed are those who investigate, blessed are the reporters” but added that this is a challenge, too, given the corruption within media.

“Let us demand honesty from ourselves,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)