Let me ask you, if you were President, what would you do differently about corruption than President Aquino is doing?
Okay, you might ask the House to hire better prosecuting attorneys, but would you let the Chief Justice continue leading the Judiciary? Let him represent the best of Philippine jurisprudence?
Okay, you might have arrested President Arroyo a year ago, but would you have let her go free if you did not have 100% good information, knowing that some of that information may be exactly where Mr. Corona keeps his, locked in a vault behind bank secrecy laws?
How do you change a culture? This is not one or two crooks. It is a culture of crooks, from the palace to the fish vendor with the scale that intentionally favors him. I won't try to list all the lawbreaking that goes on around here. That is corruption. Knowing the laws and violating them for self advantage.
It is a corrupt SOCIETY, not a corrupt official here and there. You know it. I know it.
And President Aquino has willfully decided to wade into that pit of self-interest and venom and try to do something about it.
This is what he told the Asian Development Bank about Ex-President Arroyo:
“The message, for nine and a half years, was: Nice guys finish last. To finish first, you had to lack conscience, exhibit a certain degree of shamelessness, and be an expert at giving handshakes with one hand, while picking pockets with the other."
Now that is candid. I like that.
And what exactly did he do?
He took this big old ugly iron sledge hammer weighing 16 pounds and he slammed it into the convention of "looking the other way". He tossed a really bad Ombudswoman out on her ear. He jailed Ms. Arroyo when it was clear that she was preparing to flee the country. He ham-handedly pushed Mr. Corona's impeachment through the House. He hunted down generals who were scraping money from the public's coffers.
Splinters flew everywhere, neh? That hammer hit splat in the heart of the corrupt Philippine social values and rocked the socks out of anyone dipping into the till. It struck fear in the hearts of anyone with a crooked SALN. It created lots of pain. Old generals started mumbling about a coup. Younger officers told them to get lost.
And those who took a splinter in the eyeball cried out . . . and many are striking out. The piece of wood stuck in Mr. Corona's eye is huge.
My guess is Nathan Hale, that honorable American patriot who regretted he had but one life to give for his country, in the same circumstance, would have said "I cannot bear to see my nation undergo contentious and destructive debate; I resign"?
|The Execution of Nathan Hale|
Self sacrifice, of course, is the opposite of self enrichment. It is the ultimate of honor, to give of yourself so that others can live better.
I fear that honor in the Philippines is the opposite. It is the good feeling someone gets when he is trampling on someone else or successfully passing the blame for his own screw-ups to some poor sap. Here honor is found in being a successful conniver. The honor of pulling a fast one, like the wink and nod you receive from the LTO agent when you slip him P100 to put your paperwork on the top of the stack.
So I ask, how would you do it differently, if you were President? How would you do it better. Faster. More profoundly. Do you think you could do without any pain for anyone, without stirring up criticism?
What is your idea for a seamless, smooth, peachy keen transition of Philippine values from corrupt to honest?
Oh, and by the way, along the way, after the President raised the hammer over his shoulder, the Philippine investment rating got upgraded, the peso strengthened, and the stock market took off in a roar.
What would you do better? You'd be investment grade already? Peso would be even stronger? Stock market blasting all Asian records?
You would not have put up a wall around a slum? You would not have allowed a bus massacre to happen? You would have sunk a Chinese boat or two? You'd plug Mindanao into a magical electrical grid? You'd subsidize gasoline more and drive out the oil companies who can't make any money?
How many of you have ever been in a job that requires you delegate? You know, let go of the reins and let someone else make decisions, trusting they would do a good job?
Did you expect perfection? Or did you learn to slide with the mistakes your subordinate made of no ill intent? Did you learn to distinguish between material mistakes and incidental mistakes, not worth disrupting business over? Did you learn how to counsel and coach, or just fire, scream and hire someone new?
Do you think the Philippine government, built on years of corruption and hiring of favorites, is stocked with skillful executives? Or people who mainly "wing it"?
The Presidency delegates to 19 separate cabinet secretaries.
It's a fact, one of few that I find highly meaningful.
The buck may stop with the President. Fine. Fair enough. But I argue that reason and respect ought to go there, too, for the challenges he faces, the intricacies of the job, and his fundamentally sound values. And, indeed, for the profound change in "mood" among investors.
None of the splinters stuck him in the eye as far as I can tell. But he is hearing a lot of nasty words from those in pain.
Excuse me if I remain less strident in criticism of the President than others. I don't have a better way, frankly. And I don't think he needs to carry the burden of all the inept thinking of all the bozos in government agencies throughout the land. That would be like heaping the world on a very human Atlas, and he would not shrug. He'd collapse.
Those with splinters in the eye maybe wouldn't mind.
Honest people who want to see an honorable, progressive Philippines would.