Lip-service

PERHAPS THE WEIRDEST thing on the news this week was Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to donate P1,000 to charity each time he threw a cuss word.

In a tone of near-humility, Duterte told reporters how he visited the bishops of Davao who reprimanded him for his foul language and deficient values. Duterte said he accepted the rebuke because he remained a member of the Catholic flock with a “deep and abiding faith in God.”

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Screenshot from official Rody Duterte Facebook page.

The network I was tuned into obviously thought it was blarney, as I did, because it followed up the piece with footage from the ensuing open forum.  A reporter asked for Duterte’s reaction to PNoy’s snide remarks from Italy. The clip was hardly intelligible due to the numerous beeps in Duterte’s unrehearsed reply. So much for self-control.

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Pope Francis and PNoy at the Vatican. (photo: twitter.com)

On the other side of the world, PNoy met with Pope Francis in the Vatican, an experience most Catholics consider a life-changing pilgrimage. One would expect the visitor to perform some kind of spiritual preparation prior to the encounter. Not our president, who engaged in a bit of political bashing.

In a speech before about 500 Filipinos, PNoy made digs at each of Mar Roxas’s rivals.

He then met with the Pontiff to discuss lofty matters of peace and the stewardship of God’s creation. I hope he at least washed his mouth out with soap before he kissed the Pope’s ring.

At home, Grace Poe wondered how Mar Roxas could take potshots at her when he wooed her to be his running mate for many months. The public wondered in turn how Poe could justify her adjuration of citizenship and lack of residency to satisfy the COMELEC and possibly the Supreme Court. Roxas, for his part, struggled to present himself as a man of the masses in a series of photographs that show him riding a bicycle, measuring steamed rice in a cup for his lunch, etc. Miriam Defensor-Santiago won’t even tell us the truth about her condition.

And Jojo Binay? The notorious one has not been so newsworthy lately. All his camp could say in response to PNoy was that the president’s remarks were “unfortunate” and that Binay deserved to be presumed innocent. What, no vehement denials, no carefully spun retorts, no sound bites? None, surprisingly. Perhaps the Binay campaign’s energy is well-nigh spent on the PR disaster of the multiple plunder cases against the vice president and his family.

The problem confronting the electorate is the lack of a real choice next year. There is a sector devoted to Duterte for his promise to clean up the Philippines by bathing our streets with criminals’ blood.  But that macho thug image is starting to beat him up.

Duterte has become the poster boy for the moral recovery campaign. The fact that the common tao identifies with him highlights the urgent need to re-instill values in society. The moral decline over the past century is alarming; cynicism and apathy now reign even (especially?) among the young.

But Duterte is not the only candidate paying lip-service to integrity and honor. It appears each one of them, in varying degrees, has shaded the truth and is now being found out. And one can throw on the sorry heap the present tenant of Malacañang.

As a responsible citizen of this country, what I desire is for my leaders to show me enough respect to speak honestly about their intentions, their holdings, and their character. If I am to give them my troth, I would demand no less information than that. The last person to whom I would entrust myself is a liar, a thief, and a hypocrite.

We need moral reform in this country. Now. It is imperative. We have lamented long enough that corruption has become epidemic here. We gripe and make noise but we hardly do anything. We certainly do not cure it by exposing ourselves further. We stop it one case at a time, one person at a time.  We must elect leaders who are morally qualified to strategize against it, but the combat happens where we are.

If the candidates before us will do nothing but hype themselves, they tell us nothing. Half-truths are half-lies. Let us wait for a candidate who will dare to strip him- or herself down to the bare facts and come clean about his or her plans for the nation. I am tired of being manipulated and cajoled. Let us have the truth.

If they wish to lead us, then let them begin with that.

Anyone who belongs to Christ Jesus and wants to live right will have trouble from others. But evil people who pretend to be what they are not will become worse than ever, as they fool others and are fooled themselves.

– 2 Timothy 3:12-13

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