A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations revealed that candidates who are not corrupt would be the top choice of one in four Filipino voters.
The poll, commissioned by a local think tank and conducted last December, asked respondents what qualities they were looking for in a senatorial candidate.
Other top qualities mentioned were "helps or has concern for the poor" (22 percent), "has good personal characteristics" (21 percent), trustworthy (21 percent), and "has concern or is helpful to those in need" (20 percent).
"Good personal characteristics" included "good, generous, fair, and responsible," among others.
Of the 62 senatorial candidates in the running, at least 11 have faced complaints or investigations.
But while Filipinos claim to still value honesty among their public servants, a recent incident reveals that the people themselves are wanting in terms of this premium trait.
After just nine days of operations, a bus company that encouraged passengers to pay the right fare decided to revert to engaging conductors in its trips.
Green Frog Hybrid Bus, whose buses ply the cities of Pasay and Makati, says that during those nine days, over 30 percent of passengers did not pay their fare correctly. The scheme intended to make passengers line up properly and have their exact fare ready for a box near the driver. A tap card option was also available.
“We are disappointed to see that the honesty system did not work,” the firm announced on its Facebook page last week.
It would be a stretch to equate the portion of the population that took those bus rides with the entire country, but it might tell us something about the disconnect between what we demand of our leaders and how we are prepared to conduct ourselves. Who we are as a people is reflected by those whom we install in power.
The debate about honesty should cease because it should not even exist in the first place. Honesty is a trait we must rightfully ask of those who serve us, but more importantly, it is something we should demand of ourselves.