• Revisiting the 7th Commandment

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    WE support the Catholic Church’s anti-corruption drive, but we hope that it will turn out to be more than just a T-shirt campaign. Even before the recent formal launching, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or CBCP has been running that campaign known by the Filipino translation of the 7th Commandment, “Thou shall not steal.”

    To his credit, President Aquino has been pushing a campaign that uses a similar slogan but without real success. Why has it been ineffective? First, his premise is simplistic – that poverty can be eradicated by the mere absence of corruption. As it turns out, fighting graft and poverty requires competence. Second, the Aquino government’s campaign targeted political rivals and spared its allies. As many have said, a meaningful reform movement cannot be selective. As a result, he has been accused of being a hypocrite. But as a consolation, President Aquino has succeeded in elevating the fight against corruption to the national consciousness. Although non-conscript media and broadcasters have made his “Tuwid na Daan (Straight path)” slogan the butt of jokes.

    Rightly so, the Church wishes to extend the anti-corruption drive past 2016, when President Aquino’s term ends. We hope that the Church and Filipinos in general have learned lessons from the Aquino government’s shortcomings.

    First, the campaign should spare no one, whether they be in government or in the private sector. There are ample reasons to justify that campaign’s urgency. The national discourse is dominated by reports of corruption of mind-blowing proportions. For instance, a new scam involving the DAP or Development Acceleration Program alleges that about P670 million went to dubious non-government organizations that were recommended by both allies and opponents of President Aquino. On a larger scale, news citing a report from the US-based Global Financial Integrity said that the Philippines had lost an average of P357 billion annually for the past five years to corruption and crime. Indeed, corruption not only diverts resources meant for public service and poverty alleviation, it also funds criminal activities.

    Second, the war against stealing – and in the larger context, corruption – requires sophisticated strategies and ability to execute. In other words, there are no simple answers, at least none that would fit on a shirt.

    The Church’s call for clean and honest elections is a good beginning and deserves general support. We need to elect honest and competent leaders who will be vigilant against graft and capable of executing programs that stimulate the economy. And related to that, the media must do a better job in providing information that people can use to make better electoral choices.

    Ordinary citizens could also do their part, first by reflecting on our daily practices and challenging widely held assumptions. Are we as good as we think we are? Are we instead resigned to the stealing and other wrongdoings that happen around us? Are we against crimes committed in government but blind to our own trespasses on others?

    The more we think about the Church’s campaign, the more we see it as a call to arms. We need a revolution of the non-violent kind. Even as the Church echoes the Pope’s call for mercy and compassion, we need to apply force against all things that are wrong. We need to be intolerant of stealing, and those who perpetrate it in government and private circles.

    It remains to be seen whether Filipinos can wage an honest yet relentless moral revolution. There are reasons to be doubtful, but we choose to be hopeful. More than that, we choose to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with others willing to try.

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    10 Comments

    1. Romy A. Cator on

      7th Commandment: “Thou shall not steal”
      Napakabigat na kasalanan sa mata ng Diyos at
      ng tao. Lalo’t higit kung ang ninakaw ay ang yaman ng bayan na para sa mga taong bayan. Isa lamang ang nalalaman naming karapatdapat na parusa sa mga taong nagkasala nang ganito.
      Dapat ay hindi sila payagang kumandidato bilang pangulo o sa anumang tungkuling pambayan kung nais nating walang kurapsyon na iiral sa ating bansang mahal.

    2. Maundy Cabudiat on

      The 2010 Philippine Presidential Election for which the nation through “sympathy votes” elected this current president (pnoy), after almost now five (5) years or so of his administration, where is the Philippines in the world map today? Our foreign relations with the Asian Countries and the rest of the world will gauge how this current president led the nation to improve our country’s economy and move this nation forward to progress.

      Anyway, whose to blame for this current failure in our governance? Lets look at the 15 Million Voters who entrusted their lives to the present tenant at the Philippine Malacanan Palace?

    3. Amnata Pundit on

      Its not only simplistic but misleading. How do you eliminate corruption? By jailing the corrupt of course! So Boy Sayad should have said, kung makulong ko ang kurap, walang mahirap. Kaso ayaw niyang pakulong yung kanyang KKK ( Kawatang Kamag-anak at Kakampi) kaya walang nangyari sa pangako niya na wawalain niya ang mahirap. Ang hindi ko maintindihan ay kung pano naka uto itong hipokrito na ito.

    4. separation of church from government.
      let the catholic or any religious group leave the gov’t alone.

      we are not in the past 300yrs. under the spaniards whom the catholic priest
      run the country.

      • jason madrigal on

        Wow really?! The church is concern of the persons soul, how can you separate the soul from the body? Are you a zombie or a vampire, are you walking dead? If the soul of a person is morally good then his decision in life is good, so if he is good then he or she will not be corrupt. Get it! Stop the Catholic bashing.

    5. Vicente Penetrante on

      Apart from the 7th Commandment is the parable of Jesus, the rich man and Lazarus, but the glitter of gold remains tantalizing. We still long for the Midas touch, although we know how that would end.

    6. The scam of senators employing consultants has raised its head – not for the first time and is indicative of how corrupt the country has become squeezing mobey from every opportunity.

      Each senator, as far as i am aware, can employ up to 60 staff. But we never hear how many each one employs, who they are ( usually relatives), and what on earth they do all day since most of the senators hardly work. Are mistresses on the payroll as social co-ordinators.

      The use of consultants extends the scam, again since no information is made available, and could well be ghost consultants.

      How many office staff and consultants do lito lapid et al employ. Why is it a secret?

      Santiago said that senators earn 15 million pesos a year, before kickbacks, plus free travel, accomodation, and healthcare in US.

      Time these retrobates were truly exposed.

    7. Despite a decline in services the annual budget for 2016 will be 3 trillion pesos!
      1 trillion pesos of which will be lost to corruption, making Pnoy Aquino’s government the most corrupt in philippine history.
      That equates to 50,000 pesos per family per year – so gaining 200 pesos to sell a vote in return for letting someone then steal 50,000 pesos from you hardly seems clever, except in the philippines.
      1 trillion pesos is coincidentally, or not, also the amount by which OFW’s prop up the economy via remittances.
      What OFW’s give with one hand, politicians take with another – result, no real progress in poverty reduction, simply a greater inequality divide and perpetuation of a vicious circle.

      No FoI, no e-governance, no accountability – no change.

    8. P.Akialamiro on

      The electorate needs an ever-going reminder against corruption. Hopefully, this will also have some effect against candidates who enjoy the endorsements of religious sects. In return, these candidates give favors, monetary or otherwise, i.e., future appointments of their church members in the government. I hope, for once, this culture in politics in the counry can be broken. Otherwise, we as a nation, is a ‘hopeless’ case. We remain a laughingstock of the world.