Make honesty an issue
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - March 12, 2019 - 12:00am

Dishonesty among politicians is no longer a big issue every time we hold elections. I’m not sure if it used to be a serious issue before. Questions about honesty and trustworthiness today seem to settle on who is the least corrupt among a bevy of candidates from among our permeable political parties.

With the recent battle of words between the country’s top women leaders, Vice President Leni Robredo and presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, I am glad that the issue about honesty in public office has caught the public’s attention.

Carpio was reported to have said that honesty is not an election issue because “everybody lies.” This was in response to questions on the educational background of Governor Imee Marcos, one of the senatorial candidates endorsed by her Hugpong party.

In response, Robredo said that dishonest officials should not run for public office, saying that honesty reveals a person’s integrity. This prompted Carpio to raise questions on Robredo’s right to comment about honesty and integrity, saying “she is not called fake VP for no reason.” It was in reference to alleged fraud in the 2016 election, the same election that placed Carpio and her father in power.

Before we get lost in Carpio’s logic, or lack thereof, let’s go back to the main issue of honesty in public service.

If you are a believer of the Holy Bible as a blueprint for nation building, then you may be familiar with a number of verses about honesty in relation to nation building. It starts with the premise that men and women by themselves struggle with their inherent weaknesses, but then the word of God provides guidelines to avoid the easy road to failure.

All great nations of today, at least before they started to decline, were founded on Biblical principles. In Exodus, God told Moses to choose from among his men those “who are able, those who fear God, and those who side with the truth and hate covetousness.” In Deuteronomy, God said that a leader should not use his office to enrich himself if he wants his nation to prosper. In Acts and Galatians, the Bible cites the importance of leaders having good reputations, and being gifted with wisdom.

So when a politician tells you lying is normal because every politician lies anyway, and for as long as he can take care of your economic well-being you should entrust your vote to him, remember Psalm 62:10: “Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods.” Think of Proverbs 10:2: “Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.” Read further where it says: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” And another one: “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.”

The very fabric of society would disintegrate if lying has become its norm. But as a lawyer I have often been asked: “Is it not your job to zealously protect the interest of your clients even it means you should lie?” The long and short answer is No.

I may not be able to stop a person from lying. I may be duty-bound to keep my client’s confidences. But whoever asks me to lie in court gets the following advice: “Mam/Sir, ug gusto ka mosulod sa impyerno, ihatod tika sa gate pero ikaw la’y sulod.”

In the court or in public service, for your own and your children’s sake, please always make honesty an issue.

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