Are Filipino pols so different? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 April 2014 11:13

By REMEDIOS F.MARMOLEÑO

 

The news bar on TV said that a UK Culture Minister resigned from her office because of  a week’s criticism of her charges for expenses for her office. Good grief! She resigned just because of that? Here in our country we have to practically drag them away from their office before they even think of resigning. And if they are dismissed by the appointing power these dismissed pols  mount a campaign to stay in their positions, ranging from the flimsy claim that the official letter of dismissal has not been received to  various  legal maneuvers like  filing a TRO and what not.

Of course I believe that no one  should be deemed guilty until proven so by due process in a court of law. But what about kahihiyan which used to be a strong value in our society and which was avoided to preserve one’s honor? Is this no longer operative?

Some years back a Japanese city was hit badly by an earthquake. An official for the  water utility office of the city was embarrassed that his office could not restore soon enough the water service, and “shamed”  by this fact in the face of the people’s need for water, he committed hara-kiri. I am not saying that people should commit suicide if they fail at a task, but I bring this up simply as a point of comparison.

Let us consider  those directors of some government agencies who gave themselves year-end bonuses in the millions of pesos. In spite of the strong adverse reactions from the public to these inappropriate decisions, I cannot remember reading anything that the bonuses were reduced and the surplus returned.

Let us consider the charges against certain legislators, particularly Sexy, Pogi and Tanda, in the ongoing pork barrel scandal. Did I miss it in the news  and  they have resigned? Or are these three hanging on to their “Honorable Senator” status and hanging on for dear life?

Part of the problem is that we the citizens allow these things to happen. We do not demand a higher standard of conduct from our elected officials so when they are charged for violations of law or when they do not show conduct expected even from  ordinary citizens, it matters little to them. Even when convicted for their actions, they run for public office  and still win. Think Jalosjos. Think Joseph Estrada. Think GMA who still won a seat in Congress even when charged with corruption. And she is still the representative for her district although she is now in “hospital arrest”.

From a very practical consideration it is easy to understand why they are  not easily “shamed” into resigning. Their positions give  them power and considerable remuneration – salaries and other perks and  PDAF at P200M a year for a senator and P70 M for a congressman.

Part of the problem is that our laws allow these things. Or another way to put is that those who are in place to enforce the law do not do what they are supposed to do. A simple but good example is that of the case of an elected mayor of a small municipality. When she won the election a complaint was filed against her for the reason that she was underaged. How did she get to be a candidate in the first place?