Tuesday, April 06, 2010


What has become of that Code approved by no less than the Philippine Senate, authored by no less than former Senator Jovito Salonga? This is the Code of Ethical Standards for government officials and employees.

Salonga envisioned this to promote honesty, efficiency and loyalty among state employees. It also provides for corresponding penalties for offenders.

The Salonga bill was patterned after a Code of Ethics adopted during the Commonwealth period under President Manuel L. Quezon. During those years, there was strict compliance with the Code. I should know. Years after that era, I remember as a young boy that no member of the family could even ride in my grandfather's government-issued automobile. My father outdid my grandfather by not accepting any official vehicle at all when he was in government. Yes, it can be done after all. But times have changed. Today, government-issued vehicles are also for family-related purposes. And, the general rule now seems to be that one sure way of getting rich is to join the government and engage in all kinds of illegal transactions. Take the case of the current stink now oozing from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

During the Quezon years, joining the government meant financial sacrifice. This is what Salonga wanted to inculcate in his Code. One of the most important provisions of the Code requires simple living for those in government service. It simply but directly mandates all those in government to "lead modest lives appropriate to their position and income."

On the widespread practice of bribery, the Code specifically prohibits state officials and employees to "solicit or accept, directly or indirectly any gift, favor, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation or transaction related to their office." Those in government should pay heed.

I have always been an ardent admirer of Jovy Salonga. Too bad he now has to support a tandem unacceptable to me, maybe because they too refuse to live by his Code. I have listened intently to his words of human dignity and liberties in Congress and from the pulpit of the Cosmopolitan Church. I admired him as a preacher of the Word, and it is my belief that the greatest sermons are not preached. They are lived.

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