Friday , June 22, 2018

Carvajal: Two-way street

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.