Officials told: Restore integrity, excellence-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, September 1, 2013
"STEADFAST service is not enough. Rebuild the foundations of this city. Find your moral high ground once more. Recover the integrity and excellence of our public service. Know your people and empower them. Have the courage to be accountable."
This was the challenge posed by Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, guest of honor and speaker during the 104th Baguio Day celebrations, to local officials and public servants amid accusations of continued corruption in government.
Leonen also called the public's continued vigilance to get the government they deserve -- one which is free of corruption amid controversies involving legislators on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The associate justice called on the people to continue the spirit of dissent to corruption so perpetrators will be put to justice.
"Dissenters present another view. Dissenters are valuable to our society. They can be vociferous and rowdy and they can be sober and rational. Any kind of dissent must be listened to carefully without any prejudgment as it uplifts the spirit and improves tolerance and reduces the possibility of violence," he stressed.
He explained his previous role as a dissenter in government in order to gain faithful implementation of any law in the country that "which could only be achieved with integrity, competence and the passion for public service."
"These challenges of dissent simply do not stop because there is a petition in Facebook or thousands of messages on Twitter. These challenges do not stop simply because a rally is held. Without patience, diligence and vigilance all efforts expended in mass mobilizations would just be optics, a feel good affair and a shallow movement of heroism," he said.
The associate justice also challenged officials, as well as the public to live up to the integrity, efficiency and competence asked of their duty to the public.
"We should be sovereign. We should learn to demand. We should learn to follow. Though long after the media's glare is gone, we should passionately aspire for what is not yet there, again, a government we truly deserve," the magistrate added.
Leonen also discussed concerns close to him when he was a lawyer. Among them is for the continued pursuit of indigenous peoples for their lands, which he said is ingrained in the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Rights Act and "should be given a chance to own lands which they own since time immemorial."
This was the magistrate's pronouncement amid growing disparity among the IPs, more importantly in Baguio City, that have recently been questioned by the local government especially on their land ownership.
On human rights and environmental degradation, the SC justice also highlighted the importance of vigilance among the public to continue fighting for what is right and just.
But the youngest among the SC justices said laws that have emanated from the people's struggle are not enough as he posed a challenge to lawmakers to continue amending and crafting laws for the marginalized and oppressed.
"I continue to hold the hope that people in Congress including your dear congressman will listen to his people to continue to amend when necessary, to keep still and be sleight in their hand also when necessary for purposes of the law to be fully implemented," he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 02, 2013.