Two-way street

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion -

NOT to be­la­bor a point but to state a ma­jor premise for to­day’s piece, cor­rup­tion is en­demic in Philip­pine so­ci­ety. No sec­tor is with­out its share of peo­ple in­fected by this most vir­u­lent of so­cial dis­eases.

Ev­ery­body knows cor­rup­tion thrives in all govern­ment of­fices. In busi­ness, cor­rup­tion goes up and down the com­pany lad­der. In the Church, cor­rup­tion is not con­fined to thiev­ing sac­ristans but ex­tends to priests and bish­ops un­der-re­port­ing and mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing Church funds. Fi­nally, there are cor­rupt non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion and main­stream and so­cial me­dia work­ers.

In all th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions there are au­di­tors and in­ves­ti­ga­tors. But if cor­rup­tion per­me­ates the whole, it is rea­son­able to as­sume that its watch­dog parts are not ex­empt from cor­rup­tion. This brings up the clas­sic dilemma of who au­dits the au­di­tors, who probes the probers, who watches the watch­dogs.

An or­ga­ni­za­tion’s struc­ture is manned by peo­ple not an­gels. And weak hu­mans as peo­ple are, sub­ject at any given time and cir­cum­stance to temp­ta­tions of the car­di­nal sin of greed, fool­proof struc­tural safe­guards against dis­hon­esty have not been re­ally in­vented yet and will most prob­a­bly never be.

This means that both Of­fices of the Om­buds­man and the Pres­i­dent should be equally open to a probe. There are no an­gels in both of­fices which ex­ist in a so­ci­ety where cor­rup­tion has been ex­pe­ri­enced to be en­demic. If they have noth­ing to hide, no­body should be in­tim­i­dat­ing or feel­ing in­tim­i­dated. On that premise both of­fices should wel­come a probe to sig­nify ac­cep­tance of at least the pos­si­bil­ity of cor­rup­tion among hu­mans not an­gels in their re­spec­tive of­fices.

Thus, on one hand, to ac­cuse the Pres­i­dent of in­tim­i­dat­ing the Om­buds­man and insin­u­ate he has some­thing to hide is rather su­per­flu­ous when she could have eas­ily wel­comed the probe if she has noth­ing of her own to hide. By ac­cus­ing the Pres­i­dent of in­tim­i­da­tion, she be­trays her own not-so-veiled at­tempt at in­tim­i­da­tion. For why cry in­tim­i­da­tion if she has noth­ing to hide?

On the other hand, it is not very smart to an­tag­o­nize the prob­ing of­fice. If you know it to be tainted with cor­rup­tion the smart thing to do, if you are cor­rupt your­self, is to soften it up with a bribe di­rectly or in­di­rectly through back chan­nels.

Yet the Pres­i­dent is an­tag­o­niz­ing the Om­buds­man and giv­ing her a mo­tive to pounce on him with all her might. Could this mean the Pres­i­dent has noth­ing to hide and doesn’t fear the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man selling him short on this is­sue?

Es­pe­cially now with the Deputy Om­buds­man back­track­ing, the is­sue is be­com­ing even more of the two-way street it has al­ways been where truth could go ei­ther way. We best hold judg­ment un­til all the facts are in.

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