Can a politician really remain totally honest?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 12, 2019 - 12:00am

I was quite dumbfounded when I heard Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano saying: “I don't blame Congressman Alan Lord Velasco telling lies about term-sharing, because politicians really lie, but not if he lies about the president.” I was taken aback because I used to hold him in high esteem as one of the few honest politicians. But now, I am in a quandary: Can these guys really be honest? In the context of Philippine politics, can a Filipino politician really and genuinely remain honest? Honest in the real sense of the word?

Can he keep his name untarnished and his honor unblemished by any allegation, rumor, suspicion, and accusation of graft, dishonesty, conduct unbecoming of a public official and any shade of impropriety and any transaction that compromises the strict tenets of integrity and rectitude in public service? Is there any mayor, governor, congressman, and senator who can say in all candor and honesty that he has never committed any violation of his oath, or entered into a deal that may constitute a prima-facie evidence of a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?

In the matter of appointments to vacant positions, in the promotion of incumbent officials and personnel, in the grant of rewards and imposition of penalties for erring subordinates, is there any elected or appointed high government official who strictly adheres really to the strict standards, procedures and parameters on merits and fitness, as well as the exacting criteria for rewards and punishments? Is there no shade or likelihood of nepotism, no partisan considerations, no choices based on political pull and pressures? I doubt really, if there is complete and total adherence to pure merit and fitness.

In matters of purchasing of supplies, equipment, and materials, is there really a strict compliance with the requirements on pre-qualification standards and accreditation? Are there not suppliers who are related to, or endorsed by, any relative, friend or supporter of the head of office? Is there assurance of the highest standards of supplies and products, aside from lowest costs? Is there any shade of misfeasance or malfeasance in the choice of the suppliers? Is there a strict quality control on the standards of the quality and quantity approved versus the quality and quantity actually delivered?

In the choice of contractors for public works, and for technical and administrative, security and janitorial services, is there a complete honesty in the pre-qualification and bidding? Is there any member of the municipal or city council, or provincial board who own construction companies? Is there any conflict of interest involving any head of agencies or subalterns and underlings? Are there dummy companies, so-called owners of service providers who are just rubber stamps of true owners with conflict of interest?

With the highest standards of integrity, ethics, and morality imposed on public officials, and given the pressures, temptations, and the kind of culture we have, and the tremendous pressure brought to bear on government transactions, I do not think that there is still a completely honest politician today. I hope that the system has not engulfed such fine men as Alan Peter Cayetano, and my good boy, former student, Jay Lord Velasco. They were supposed to be my last good men standing.

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