Where's statesmanship?

14 October 2013

(Editor's note: Varying accounts of high officials’ questionable conduct violate good faith as noted by the author.)

Most of our national leaders who made Manila North Cemetery their final resting place are honored even in their markers as statesmen, the highest praise they earned for honorably serving the people.  Before the month ends, people by the tens of thousands will pay homage to the dead.  They won’t miss reading markers of great presidents and other national leaders.  Two of our presidents, Elpidio Quirino and Carlos P. Garcia, had borrowed from the GSIS to build their homes in Quezon City before leaving Malacañang.

Presidents with no homes

Quirino rose through the ranks as representative, senator, Cabinet member, Senate President pro-temporé, and vice president.  Garcia was provincial governor before his election as senator and vice president.  A lawyer from Bohol once told me that Garcia himself had supervised the repair of his residence after saving it from termites.

Rare breed

But today’s modern politicians are ruled by a secret list of personal protocols.  They tend to bypass or ignore statesmanship.  They are not seen as disinterestedly promoting the public good – the one and only purpose of a government official.  Filipino statesmen like Quirino and Garcia are a rare breed now and we don’t see them making a courageous stand in Congress and other executive offices.

Compensation first and last

Today’s politicians view duty as compensation first and last and see public office as trust fund, NOT public trust.

With politicians deep in PDAF/DAP as their main models, officials in the government corporations, like SSS, etc., also started loosening their belts by awarding themselves fat bonuses for their alleged “good performance.”  But COA said there’s no such performance.  When they invested SSS members’ money, profits from investment should go back to the institution, NOT to deep pockets.  They should not consider themselves as Lee Iacocca, who became a national celebrity after saving Chrysler Corp. from bankruptcy.  He persuaded Congress to lend Chrysler $1.5 billion in 1980 and his style of management earned record profits.

Test of faith/honesty

Public officials with heady attitudes will not promote public good.  Their apologists will realize that good government is not an experiment but a test of faith and a testament to honesty and good conduct.   When high government officials give varying versions of their conduct, each account violates good faith.

The people as plain observers of events tend to doubt the government’s report relating to the conduct of high government officials.  Like a statement that SSS officials “have not yet received their fat bonuses,” but one of them publicly declared she would return what she already received.  (Comments are welcome at roming@pefianco.com).