Friday, November 28, 2008

Tama na. Sobra na. Alis na. Kami naman!

Fighting Graft and Corruption

To steal is wrong. It is a crime. It is a sin. When stealing is done by those high up in power and authority, it carries a greater culpability. The corruption of the best is the worst. The social problem of graft and corruption in public life in our country has reached abominable and embarrassing proportions. How shall we describe graft and corruption in our country? It is systemic. It is rewarding. It hurts the poor the most.

Graft and corruption is systemic and structural. It is not only individual or isolated persons who corrupt and get corrupted. The present system, the elected and the electors, the employers and the employees, the appointed and the appointing powers has become so corrupt that what we do need is a radical, systemic, interior change. Changing personages through the electoral process or even through legal processes like impeachment and court suits will not necessarily result in reform unless there is a willingness to change from the heart and soul. Pinning our hopes on legal processes unaccompanied by conversion from within will lead us to nowhere but deeper frustrations. We can hear the protest “Tama na. Sobra na. Alis na. Kami naman!”. It is important that those who investigate or prosecute corrupt officials will not gain political or financial benefits from convicting or absolving the accused.

Graft and corruption is rewarding and rewarded. It is hardly punished. The politicization of the judiciary and the perennial rumors about rogues in robes are problems we need to address urgently. Vigilance is lacking. Political will is weak. Prosecution plays favorites. The penal system is flawed. Pardon and clemency is cheap. Among our people, there is an increasing level of tolerance for corrupt officials. Corruption does not seem to anger many of us anymore. We are not outraged enough by graft and corruption. Widespread graft has sadly numbed our morals.

The public money that goes to graft is money stolen from the poor. Because of graft and corruption, schools buildings cannot be constructed and teachers are not paid; public hospitals cannot protect us from untimely death; soldiers are deprived of their just wages.

Our biggest problem in our country is graft and corruption. This problem must be faced courageously now. We are risking the life of our nation if we continue to ignore it. I appeal to the consciences of our countrymen. Do not leave the solution of graft and corruption to corrupt officials. Our problem cannot be our solution. Let us come together as Catholic faithful to fight the sin of graft and corruption. We cannot profess faith in God and not get angry at widespread graft and corruption. Faith in God and outrage at sin go together. Outrage is not enough; it must lead to action. If we are not outraged by the sin of stealing happening all over our once beautiful land, could it be that our faith has turned cold and uncaring? If your faith has turned cold and uncaring, how can you be saved? Fight corruption or lose your soul!

I place this appeal at the feet of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

From the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Balanga City, November 27, 2008

Bishop of Balanga
P.S. - In related news:
2 bishops open to ‘extra-legal’ means
Arroyo administration continue to suppress truth, says Palawan bishop
Search for truth does not end with junking of impeach rap – Archbishop Lagdameo
Priest calls people to support CBCP’s call for vigilance
Corrupt public servants exploit ignorant poor, says Cardinal Rosales
Commitments of some legislators for sale, says Manila prelate

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Americans just had their Thanksgiving last Thursday. Thanksgiving was instituted as a holiday by President Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the civil war. If you read President Lincoln's proclamation at you'll notice that he intended Thanksgiving to be a religious holiday. After mentioning that the nation still prospered, though in the midst of a civil war he acknowledged the blessings God gave to his nation and went on to say that "the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Their declaration of independence boldly proclaims: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." America was founded on values that acknowledge God and life. Many of their leaders, like Lincoln, espoused and were guided by great life-affirming values. This is (was?) their strength for such values are God-affirming and I believe that as long as the country, through its leadership, espouse and uphold these values that country will enjoy God's providence.

Those that espouse the opposite, life-negating values will suffer and be eventually destroyed. Like Egypt under the Pharaohs who espoused slavery and had to learn a bitter lesson from God through Moses. Like Babylon, whose own grandeur made it listen more to its pride rather than to God. Hitler. Mussolini. Saddam. South Africa and Nelson Mandela. Those who espouse life-negating principles will reap the very fruits of the very same seeds they sow.

No one escapes God. For our rewards, what we harvest, are determined by what we ourselves sow. Sow deceit and you shall see yourself being deceived. Corruption, because it is not life-affirming, will at best result in only a temporary advantage to the perpetrator. Thereafter the perpetrator him/herself will suffer. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

The die was cast when the perp decided to be corrupt. At that point he/she sowed the seed. The only way to reap a different harvest is to sow the seeds of forgiveness and atonement. And atonement, that is, at-one-ment, requires reparation before the perp can be at one with God and with the people again.

- TE