No trust – no fear

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

We all have a part in it, we all did something that caused it and now we all have to make an effort to rebuild the relationship and trust.

“For whoever keeps the whole law, yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty in all (James 2:10)”. Then there is the challenge of Christ in John 7: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

I’m glad President Rodrigo Duterte called attention to the biggest problem in the country: “the erosion of public trust in the government.” In the Philippines “Trust” is often about politicians keeping their promise, performing their sworn duties, or delivering what people expected. The minute the politician fails to deliver, that trust begins to crumble. Trust is also anchored on what is good for all, what is fair for all, and what benefits all. Trust is eroded the minute leadership becomes exclusive instead of inclusive, selective instead of democratic.

While President Duterte’s assessment was quite accurate, it failed or chose not to mention that the public or “We The People” also contribute to the erosion of public trust in government. In fact we have gone beyond trust issues, many Filipinos now have “NO FEAR” of government. The sheer number of drug users and drug dealers in the country is proof enough. Our Chaotic Traffic Crisis and unruly drivers in Metro Manila, the state of corruption in business and government all point to one thing: We have “NO FEAR” of government or the law.

In the minds of many, the assumptions are: “I can get away with it,” “I can afford it,” “Who’s going to catch me?” and the worst of all, “everyone has a price.” What’s frightening about the mess is that many Filipinos are beyond guilty. They actually dare people or flaunt their fearlessness or having “No Fear” of the law. Whether it’s a Jueteng Lord or TRAPO who publicly flaunts his “rich” status at hotels or country clubs, an “Inglesero” driving his or her Euro-Sports car on SLEX over the speed limit, or an AUV Express driver counter flowing in traffic, down to tricycle drivers who take over street corners and sidewalks and use these for their parking and terminals. In the words of the Filipino who encounters them: “Sila na ang Mali – Sila pa ang may ganang magalit (At fault and angry about it).

This state of affairs is a result of our rebellion and deep-seated sense of revenge against anything and everything that we experienced during Martial Law, whether it’s the PNP, the Military or officials of the Executive branch. As a result those who kicked out the “Enemy” made sure through the Constitution and Congress that the PNP, AFP as well as many regulatory law enforcement agencies such as the LTO, LTFRB, or MMDA etc., do not have the necessary manpower, weapons or police powers to effectively enforce the law. Bad blood, suspicion and post Martial Law paranoia was sufficient ground to castrate law enforcement and rule of law in the Philippines. 

Once Filipinos managed to kick out the Martial Law regime, we simply assumed and showed through the years that if we don’t like a politician, President, or government, we just converge on EDSA and kick out the “enemy” through People Power. Business people and corporations along with their Media outlets and friends in Congress have made sure that government see it their way or they get a beating in media and the court of public opinion.

If that was not enough, media outlets “Empowered” the people to have an opinion, whether or not they knew the facts or details on an issue. What they “felt” or “thought” was given more value than what the public actually knew or understood. Instead of informing and educating the public, mass media committed the grave error of letting public impression/opinion determine policy. “Just send in your text messages and we will read them on air”, thereby creating “Opinion Leaders” who began to think and act like they know better but free of any professional or legal liability. We are all entitled to our opinion, our sense of entitlement but not cognizant and conscientious of our civil duties. The only time we ever feel patriotic is when Gilas Pilipinas is on court or Manny Pacquiao had a match in Vegas!

The President’s speech politely avoided mentioning what unpatriotic or non-law abiding citizens have done to erode “Trust” in government. President Duterte blamed it on politicians and government. But it must be said that “We The People,” have our countless little sins that ultimately creates a “nation of sinners” if not “Minions” or mini-criminals.

We now praise the war on drugs and drug dealers. We privately applaud the termination of drug personalities believing it will result in a serious reduction in criminality. But how will you react when our time to be disciplined, comes? What about our many little sins and our many minor traffic infractions or violations? What about our distrust and contempt for the rules, the laws and law enforcers? What about our disregard for pedestrians, our disdain for discipline, traffic flow or schedules.

What about the many ways we cheat in terms of weights and measures or actual contents of products we make or sell? What about the salaries and benefits of people we hire, the commissions we leave hanging or delayed? What about unpaid bills or payments due to suppliers that have gone from the historic 15 to 30 days and is now taking an average of 90 to 120 days for “responsible corporations” or business people to pay?

How would you respond if you were confronted for being overly critical, a hypocrite or being directly responsible for undermining or eroding the reputation of the ENTIRE government simply for the sins or the offense that some or one politician or government employee did to you?

I have been guilty of this time and again. Then one day, I read, studied and came to really understand what God meant when he told us: “Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness”. Sabi-sabi, according to, and all those forms of hearsay have come together to help erode public trust. On many occasions “the erosion of public trust” is not the government’s fault. It is ours. Let us rebuild ourselves because just like churches, government is not a building, it is the people – we are the government.

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E-mail: [email protected]



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