Telltales of liability, or of impunity?

IT ALL started with an allegation of overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall parking building—materials and bathroom fixtures purportedly having been procured at rates staggeringly higher than their current market value. As a consequence, a complaint for plunder was filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay. From there, the Pandora’s box was opened and a plethora of other claims followed suit, the most recent one being a 350-hectare developed farm located in Rosario, Batangas allegedly owned by the Binays.

As disheartening as it may sound, imputations of corruption and wrongdoing are tales that are no longer new to Filipinos. While a few may have been successfully proved or effectively dismissed, the fact remains that a lot of these exposés become the subject of media fiasco up until the next one comes afloat; and when it does, the old one gets shelved, only to be remembered by the frail memories of men.

Some argue that this is just political mudslinging in order to derail VP Binay’s popularity as the race for the 2016 presidential election draws nearer; while others claim that this is simply a quest for truth, a heed to the call of the people—the bosses—and another step in the path of tuwid na daan.

Irrespective of any motive—personal, political or otherwise, what is important is to determine whether or not these public servants have fulfilled their mandate to the best of their abilities, in accordance with the law, and in keeping with the pulse of national development and public welfare. Thus, public officials owe it to the public institutions and the people to answer the allegations made against them, to set the record straight once and for all. As the saying goes, one has nothing to fear if he has nothing to hide.

The quest for truth and justice should not, however, be personality or partisan-based. Neither must it be limited to political color or affiliation. It must not only be pursued when it is against someone in the opposite side of the political fence and then conveniently forgotten when it affects an ally or oneself. Thus, the entire machinery of government must also be utilized or made available in uncovering the veracity of allegations—foes and allies alike.

Although strong political will is essential in initiating reforms in government, achieving true reform can be had if the mechanisms for ensuring accountability in public office transcends the current administration. It must be constantly reinforced so that it can slowly become organically embedded in the institutions of government. In this light, constant vigilance is a necessity. Everyone, both in the public and private sector, should foster a culture of hard work and integrity in their chosen industry as well as in their personal lives; they must work together in order to build a society that is better than the one we have right now, and in the event that they (fore)see any wrongdoing, to have the tenacity to put it to a halt. Hopefully, through the passage of time, these ideals that are put into practice become self-reinforcing mechanisms that could withstand volatile changes in personas and faces of power.

When this comes into fruition, then we would be able to finally claim that indeed, power resides in the people—and without a doubt, this can be one of the greatest legacies that we can impart to the succeeding generations. And hopefully, unlike our forefathers who had not lived long enough to reap the benefits of this lofty ambition, true and lasting reform ceases to be an elusive dream that is prepared for the future, but rather, one that is enjoyed in the present. P

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