Honesty is a virtue

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Saturday, May 31, 2014


THE Inquirer of May 26 reported a story that happened in Kidapawan City. Two tricycle drivers found a bundle of cash and checks on the roadside. After some deliberations they decided to report the find to the authorities in Kidapawan.

As usually happens here in the Philippines, the people in Kidapawan were surprised that they didn’t put the money in their own pocket. They made a big fuss about it.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod decided to formally recognize the two tricycle drivers for their honesty. The mayor of the city presented the two drivers before the city hall employees during their regular flag ceremony. The whole thing was treated as if something abnormal had happened.

Of course, I agree that those tricycle drivers were very honest and I want to commend them for that also. But to treat honesty as something abnormal that is what I can’t understand. My 50-year experience here in the Philippines has taught me that dishonesty has become part of Filipino culture.

I have experienced many times that people approached me to borrow money from me but many failed to pay back their loan. As a Dutchman I always have been surprised about this. As a child I have been trained to be honest always and tell the truth. Of course as a child I often failed in this respect. But if I see here in the Philippines how adult people and honorable people like senators and congressmen can tell an outspoken lie with a straight face, it always drives me mad when I see this on TV.

Coming back on that story in Inquirer, it turned out that the owner of those checks and cash is a lending institution: Asset Credit and Loan Inc. in Kidapawan City. The report said that the manager of the company had since retrieved the fund. There is no mention at all that the company gave also a reward to the tricycle drivers.

Imagine a company that makes a business out of lending money to poor people who are in need of cash, they didn’t have the decency to give a reward to those poor tricycle drivers. Those lending institutions give out loans against a high interest rate. If people cannot pay their loan in time, their property is automatically forfeited.

That is in itself already a business that is highly unethical and unchristian. If I were that company I would have distributed all that money which they had retrieved from the tricycle drivers to the poor people in that area. If they still have any heart left in themselves they would do that.

The Mayor of Kidapawan rightly said: ‘I hope their tribe (of the tricycle drivers) will increase. We need more persons like them, who despite being poor, do not hesitate to return what does not belong to them.’ That would be real honesty, a Christian virtue and all Filipinos should adhere to that.

***

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 01, 2014.

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