Barugan ta ang Kamatuoran

The Scandal of Corruption

Our country today is in a very deep political and moral crisis. We see its impact on the face of Jun Lozada, the reluctant star witness. He fears for his life and for his family’s safety, as he struggles to speak out what he knows about the NBN-ZTE deal. This $329-million controversial deal apparently has a built-in $130 million kickback. This is very disturbing! Whoever has the key to the solution to this problem? Speak! We want to know the truth!

Whistleblower Lozada, of course, is not a saint. He himself confesses his previous wrongdoing. But his bold witnessing overcomes the tricks some authorities employ to avoid saving what they know and to prevent those who know from speaking out. The greatest casualty here is the truth. So tell us the truth, now!

For if all this is true, then it will confirm the grand scale corruption that the Philippine bishops have relentlessly been preaching against. According to the editorial of the official publication of the Philippine Bishops, “Graft and corruption in the government are so endemic and extensive that socio-political integrity in governance has seemingly become a moral impossibility to achieve during the remaining three-year tenure of the present national leadership” (CBCP Monitor June 25-July 8 2007, p.A4). This is a heavy statement.

We would be hypocritical, however, if we blame only the government. At the moment, no social institution in Philippine society seems immune to corruption. So, like Lozada, the media must also say, “mea culpa” for some distorted reporting. Like Lozada, the Church must also admit its lack of transparency in its institutions, and should also say “mea culpa.” Like Lozada, the private sector must stop bribery and not yield to extortion, and say, “mea culpa.” This collective admission of guilt is part of our communal cleansing. And this Lenten Season should be a good time to confess the sad truth of our participation in corruption!

The Blessing of Integrity

Thank God, there is another truth to be told. The probinsyanong Instik is not alone. There are many more whistleblowers who, in less sensational ways, live up to the demands of living a life of integrity. We witness the heroic citizenship of ordinary employees who continue, despite low salaries, to pour their energies into their public service. We know of judges who retire with peace of mind because they have held fast to their principles. All this is also true!

We bless the dynamic leaders who literally walk the streets in delivering basic services to their people. We affirm the achievements of conscientious individuals in the corporate world and the religious groups who combine professional competence with social conscience. All this is must also be hailed for they are true!

We celebrate, with both sacred rage and serene faith, the death of our contemporary martyrs who have sacrificed life, job, and family for the sake of justice. They lived in the joy and consolation of the truth!

Communal Action for Truth

Now, in response to the call of Philippine bishops and various vigilant groups, the Ateneo de Davao University students, faculty, administration, staff, and other concerned citizens here in Davao City join together in “communal action,” to pray hard and work even harder for enlightenment, cleansing, and the courage to live by the “truth that sets us free.” (John 8:32). We commit ourselves to continuous struggle–within our own selves, our families and institutions–to abhor lies and to uphold truth.

At the same time, we challenge those who hold positions of public trust–please check and recheck your values. We call on their relatives to interrogate that acts of their fathers or mothers or sons or daughters in positions of power. Do not be the cause of their downfall.

We call on the students and alumni–you are the best contribution of schools to society. Remember the values that your school stands for. Do not bring shame to your Alma Mater.

We call on the religious communities and members of civil society. Support the authentic whistleblowers. Give them shelter. Help them discern. Take care of their families. More importantly, don’t leave individual whistleblowers to carry the burden of shaking the conscience of society. Let’s transform our groups into prophetic communities and communal whistleblowers.

We call everyone to tell your stories of pain and anger, your dreams and energies. In homes and classrooms, talk about Filipinos who tell the truth. Tell children not to cheat their way to success. Teach them hard and honest work. Tell them to respect the real value of words–and numbers. Remind them the dignity of our people.

We believe that the present crisis is not in our genes. Even our seemingly immovable social structure and incorrigible culture of corruption cannot be our eternal destiny. If we dare to change, things will change. So let us change!

What we now see as an apparent dead-end may yet turn out to be the threshold of a new creation. In the “darkness that covered the abyss” in the beginning of creation, God’s “mighty wind swept over the waters. God said, ‘let there be light. And there was light” (Genesis 1:2-3).

In the seemingly desperate situation our country is in today, let the mighty wind of God’s spirit move us. Let there be movement! And there shall be change! But first, give us no less than the truth, and the faith to face it–now! (Ateneo de Davao University Community)

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