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Honesty is still the best policy

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - May 6, 2021 - 12:00am

Since my childhood, i have had the privilege of hearing the saying “Honesty is the best policy” although i only learned quite belatedly that it was the Anglican Prelate Edwin Sandys who coined it. In every single opportunity they had, my parents Napoleon and Veronica (may their souls rest in peace) would tell me and my sister, Efleda, to be honest and truthful in our dealings with people. I am sure that most, if not all other parents also instill in the psyche of their kids the value of honesty although it is with special pride to remember that to my parents, honesty was a virtue always to uphold. So, from that learning, my lady Carmen and i, in our time, also educate our children that telling the truth, even If it is hard to do, is better than telling lies.

As i approximated the age of discernment, i realized that man lies. Even the most honest of the men i knew, would, for a variety of reasons, become untruthful at times such that the proverb that my parents inculcated in my young mind remained but an ideal that exists only in the imagination and something desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality.

Three nights ago, President Rodrigo Duterte faced the nation again. Among the things he ranted about had something to do with the invasion and occupation by Communist China of some islands in the West Philippine Sea. The president said that he did not promise to take back these islands from Chinese control or words to that effect. Duterte belied reports that it was one of his 2016 political campaign promises.

I thought that the president was not truthful. In my mind, the denial made by Duterte was dishonest such that I needed to find out the truth. It did not take long for me to retrieve the facts. From the internet, I read that “In a report by ABS-CBN News, Duterte declared in a press conference:? “I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest point in South China Sea that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski?. I will carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I l tell them (Chinese), Suntukan o barilan?” After reading that news item, I was horrified to know that President Duterte lied to his own people.

The issue where the dishonesty of the president was exposed centered on a a matter that has become so important to our national wellbeing that it has to be brought outside of pure academic discussion. This is the dynamic issue of sovereignty. According to Chief Justice Enrique Fernando sovereignty is, as a legal concept, identified with absolute legal competence. Fernando writes that from juristic standpoint, it is illimitable. For his part, Justice Ruperto Martin, describes external sovereignty as the supremacy of the state against all foreign will and characterizes it in a way that the state, like the Philippines, cannot cede away any of its essential elements without self-destruction.

While I said above in most calm  demeanor  that I have realized honesty to be an ideal existing only in the realm of imagination, terror strikes my heart to have a president who, on this particular issue, may be a liar. Really, Duterte could have admitted making the campaign promise of planting the Philippine flag in the Spratlys and driving away the invading Chinese and pleaded for national forgiveness for his failure to act accordingly which the Filipino nation would not be unwilling to give. In denying an undeniable fact, Duterte shockingly revealed his dishonest tendencies.

HONESTY
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