"We must demand that our public officials be the best of our nation's people."
If I had a voice half as good as Billy Joel’s, I’d serenade our politicians with this song: “Honesty is such a lonely word / Everyone is so untrue…”
What is honesty? The encyclopedia definition: “A facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc.
“Honesty also involves being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere.”
Is this not a quality that we should expect from our public servants, particularly the highest in the land, such as senators? The State takes from us our hard-earned money as taxes and other fees in order to run the country. As taxpayers and citizens we have the right to expect the truth from our senators, representatives, and other government officials, that they not lie, cheat, and steal the money we entrusted to them.
That public officials should be of good moral character is required by the highest law of the land. The Constitution demands honesty and integrity from public servants:
Article II, Section 27: “The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.”
Article XI, Section 1: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”
For this to even be an issue is ludicrous and a sign of how skewed our country’s moral compass has become. To say that one’s adversaries are liars because of one thing or another could be considered a campaign tactic, albeit a dirty one, and mudslinging often boomerangs.
But to say that because honesty is not explicitly stated in the requirements for senator, it is therefore not an election matter—that’s being unethical and dishonorable. It is normalizing bad behavior. Lying cannot be excused; it is a betrayal of trust. And lying by public officials is a betrayal of public trust.
The Filipino people are sick of the incompetence, theft, corruption, and disrespect of its leadership, and this sorry state of affairs has been going for generations. Yet the same dynastic personalities are voted into power time and again.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that the majority of our kababayan are still swayed by the vaudeville acts that characterize the typical election campaign.
So instead of having healthy debates where candidates from opposing parties and ideologies can explain their platforms and describe their plans for a better Philippines, we have muckraking, intimidation, black propaganda complete with paid trolls, and other dastardly tactics, as well as comedy bar jokes, dance numbers, and karaoke.
A candidate’s character, in addition to their skill, knowledge, and other attainments, is an excellent predictor of what kind of service they will render, how they will perform in office. Knowing where they stand on values and morals tells us much about their personalities, and allow us to judge accordingly.
We must demand that our public officials be the best of our nation’s people. We must require from them uprightness and human decency, as well as duly earned qualifications that will equip them to do their job efficiently and intelligently with honesty, integrity, and accountability.
Let me sing some more Billy Joel. To my fellow voters, remember, “We don’t want some pretty face / To tell us pretty lies /All we want is someone to believe…”
And to the political candidates and politicians: “Honesty is hardly ever heard / And mostly what I need from you…”
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There are good reasons why the traditional wisdom ‘Honesty is the best policy’ was passed on for generations. / FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO”‹