The teacher as the true public servant

iTEACH - Jose Claro () - May 29, 2012 - 12:00am

A few weeks before Kaya Natin’s lead convenor Harvey Que took the witness stand, his ally, former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, remarked: “Sa gobyerno, ang daming rekititos at kuskos balungos pero sa huli, kayang-kaya pa ring itong ikutan at lusutan ng mga kurakot.”

Governor Padaca’s remarks about the circuitous nature of corruption proved to be a prophecy when they found themselves ironically on the receiving end of a sermon about following rules and ethics from legislators who in the course of history have demonstrated what it means to be morally corrupt. One, a former detainee co-accused of corruption brazenly called Que a charlatan. Another senator, who once hysterically lied through her teeth, implied Que was a hypocrite advocating good governance. 

Admittedly, Que may have made a lapse in judgement when he handed unverified documents as evidence to a presiding judge. It was obvious that he was not given proper legal advice about the matter as his action was interpreted as an attempt to influence the Senate President. 

What is despicable, however, is how two senator judges took turns to humiliate the Kaya Natin leader. Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil, says Machiavelli. Que may have exited bruised and embarrassed, but when one thinks about it, at least Que’s mistakes sprung from his sincere desire to be of help and service to the ongoing trial. Que may have been derided by his detractors, but the experience itself should encourage Que that this was brought about by his convictions and principles and not by ambition and malice. 

I do not personally know Mr. Harvey Que. Back in my college days, he was known as the theology teacher who inspired his students so much that it paved the way for a project geared towards the development of public education. This project has since evolved into a developmental and sustainable leadership formation program inspiring hundreds of public school students to pursue their collegiate studies with a good number of them enrolling in prestigious universities, thanks to the help of the Pathways Program.

From Pathways, he went on to be one of the founders of Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation that raises funds for the improvement of school libraries nationwide. In his blog, he writes that it isn’t that hard to raise funds for projects like these. What he doesn’t say is that the reason why these projects are well-funded is because donors have full trust and faith in Keh’s character and capabilities. 

His civil society group, Kaya Natin, focuses on promoting transparency, social accountability, and people empowerment by sharing concrete practices and achievements of true public servants. During the dark ages of the Arroyo regime, Harvey Keh and Kaya Natin members were one of the few who kept a candle of hope flickering in our nation by going around the country and motivating Filipinos into believing that good governance is still possible in Philippine society. For these projects and more, Keh was recognized as one of The Outstanding Young Men for 2010.

Despite Keh’s failure to analyze the legal ramifications of his act, it must not be forgotten that Harvey Keh has changed the lives of thousands by empowering them to carve a better future for themselves and for their nation. This he has done without any taint of political corruption. For this, his character shone despite the verbal abuse he received from powerful people who have fallen for the lust of power, material riches, and the exercise of dominion over others. Their antics fail against a person whose only motive is to improve our society by bringing back truth and transparency in public governance. Last Wednesday was a reality check for Keh to exercise more discernment when participating in politics, but at least it proves his fight against corruption has become a reality by having a taste of what it means to be in the frontline of this battle. 

And what better way to confirm this truth than to earn the ire of legislators who have betrayed the trust of this nation. His main detractor, Santiago, may be impressive, but her talent has not served her constituents because of her fetish for power, intimidation, and attention. For all her legal expertise, she has never come close to being a champion of justice, which should be the end goal of any legal practice. Her only moment of endearment to the Filipino public is her penchant for pickup lines, quite telling of her legacy that exhibits how competence used for selfish reasons ends only in farce and travesty. 

In this challenging chapter of Harvey Keh’s life, he should persevere and take inspiration from the continued trust and gratitude of Filipinos who may not personally know him but have been inspired by his immense love for the Philippines. After reading these messages of unwavering trust and support, Mr. Keh, consider yourself esteemed, admired, and respected. 


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