THE Philippines can be likened to a ship, M/V Las Islas Filipinas, floundering in a choppy sea, its moral compass gone haywire from the latest admission of salacious affairs by the Speaker of the House, an elected public official whose position requires moral ascendancy being the fourth highest elective official in the land after the Senate President, the Vice President and the President.
On board this mother ship, the passengers must have been gripped by the fear of getting dashed in the rocks after realizing that they have been, once again, duped and used as mere tools in this game called politics, only to be discarded once their usefulness expires.
In tandem with the absence of moral ascendancy in this code red situation is the lack of accountability among public officials. What happened to the basic principles of checks and balances in government among the judiciary, the legislative and the executive branches? Is it merely an abstract precept or an idea that may or may not be pursued depending on the whims of the leaders in government?
In filing a graft complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., the House Speaker was rightly claiming a high level of moral ascendancy as a graft buster in his allegations of an anomalous transaction—a land lease deal—between the Bureau of Corrections and a banana plantation owned by the Floirendo family.
He could have claimed an even higher moral ground than the congressman from Davao del Norte if he had simply focused on graft and corruption and had not stooped so low as to discuss sus seres queridos or his loved ones in public.
Instead, he enumerated them and the number of children he sired with three other women, apart from his four children with his estranged wife.
Yes. Graft and corruption is a big deal, an issue that must be pursued until the perpetrators are made to pay to the full extent of the law. The Speaker of the House would have been right in pursuing his case without allowing himself to be distracted by the innuendoes about his life within the intimate confines of his bedroom.
Cornered as an immoral public official by his own admission, he even branded his own undoing as a distraction from the real issue – that Floirendo is a supposedly corrupt public official whose Tagum Agricultural Development Co. Inc. allegedly deprived the government of P13 billion in the BuCor deal.
A distraction? Well, maybe it was. But he allowed himself to be distracted, lose control of the situation and earn the ire of the Gabriela Women’s party. His admission of leading an immoral life “reeks of machismo unbecoming of a public servant, more so of the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” according to Gabriela representatives.
The House Speaker is right in pointing out that graft and corruption is the real issue at hand. He is also right in filing a case against the Davao del Sur representative.
It is also equally true that the distraction is a real issue, because public officials, especially those elected by the people, must stand on higher moral ground if they are to lead the people and their colleagues in the House with conviction without abandoning M/V Las Islas Filipinas and its passengers floundering in the high seas without a moral compass.