Honor among politicians

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

The replacement of Zubiri as Senate President by Escudero may have been a minor political event, except for the video drama which exposed further the morality and lack of honor among Filipino politicians. Zubiri in a press conference, stated that he had displeased the “powers that be” by not acceding to instructions, so majority of his co-senators, 14 of them, voted to oust him.

He lamented that days before, he had received calls and assurances of support from enough of them, that he believed he would prevail. In a day, it turned out he only had seven with him and those that promised support had abandoned him. The most hurting to him was Senator De la Rosa, whom he had allowed to proceed with the Senate hearing on the PDEA leaks, which was the proximate cause of Malacañang’s displeasure. While he was thanking and praising De la Rosa in his farewell presscon, De la Rosa had turned and voted against him. So, Zubiri and De la Rosa were both crying in the videos.

The phrase “honor among thieves” dates back to the Roman times and was interpreted two ways, both with negative implications. In the first one, it means that even among the vile groups in society, there is an honor code that they respect and follow, which is to keep one’s word. In the second interpretation, which is “there is no honor among thieves”, it means that in the criminal groups, there is no honor and morality that anyone or everyone can do what they want without adhering to an honor code.

I believe that the first interpretation is the correct one, as the code or any code for that matter, is really placed and agreed upon for the orderly functioning of the group. The growth, progress, and development of societies depend on the enforcement of rules and regulations which become codes of conduct. All forms of governments enact laws which are codes of conduct and so do all religions, with the religions adding the rewards of heaven or reincarnation as bonus to following the behavioral codes of conduct.

Politics is the problematic arena which tries to defy normative codes of conduct, and this is why politics destroys governments, societies, and nations. The most prosperous and peaceful countries are those that have matured politically and tamed their politicians. Those with the worst politicians, whether democratic or autocratic have/are economically struggling, high poverty levels and civil/political instability. While dictators may be more prone to abusive behavior due to lack of accountability, politicians in democratic countries also act as if they can get away with anything/everything. This is happening many countries including the Philippines, where the politicians are acting with impunity because they believe the voters will still elect them, no matter what.

The task of the people and the governed in any society is to make and ensure that the politicians follow a code of conduct which includes an honor code that applies to all. This is the objective and purpose of constitutions and laws that apply to all. The more that these laws are violated by people and politicians, the more chaotic society will be. The lesser the laws and rules are enforced, the lesser/lower the respect for the governments.

Long time ago, my politician uncle told me that politics is the game of the devils. As far as I can remember, except for some years when the Philippines had some relatively ethical government and politicians, our political atmosphere is going downhill. Graft and corruption is not reducing. Money politics is increasing and we are not achieving our economic potential with the human and natural resources of the country. Looking around our Asian neighborhood, while they also have the same political/social problems, they are getting better than the Philippines.

Information technology and social media may be the added element/component to make our politicians act with honor. That dishonorable acts are exposed and condemned by the people and eventually affect their hold on power or even a change of government will be a big motivator. The time has come to make our politicians really “honorable” and deserve this designation. There should be honor among thieves, there should be honor among politicians.

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