Carvajal: Appalling lack

Break Point

SPANISH delicadeza translates into English tact or refinement. But for centuries in the Philippines a person’s lack of delicadeza does not mean simply that he is tactless or unrefined. Anywhere in this country lack of delicadeza means lack of moral propriety.

But of late politicians, government officials have been subscribing to a totally different meaning of delicadeza. Some recent examples...

Solicitor General Jose Calida did not see conflict of interest in his family corporation’s bagging a huge government contract just because he has divested from the company as required by law. Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also did not see conflict of interest in having DOH rent a family-owned building simply because he is legally no longer a part-owner.

But who are they kidding? Everybody knows that divestment is only paper compliance with the law. Underneath and through legal sleight of hand they remain owners. Hence, there is in fact conflict of interest and delicadeza demands that Calida and Duque should refrain from having their family corporations bid for government contracts. It’s legal but immoral.

The same is true of politicians who run for office when they have pending administrative or, what is worse, criminal cases in court. They do not see impropriety or immorality in running for office on the pretext that they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

On the national level, senatorial candidates Juan Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla etc. belong to this group. On the local level, we have councilors Alvin Arcilla and Sisinio Andales.

Of course it is legal for them to run because of the presumption of innocence. But is it morally proper when there are serious questions about their integrity and honesty? A fine national sense of moral propriety or delicadeza demands that people should be made to vote only for candidates of unquestionable character and impeccable reputation.

A third case of lack of delicadeza is former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s use of a diplomatic passport when he is no longer a diplomat. Of course, it is perfectly legal because the law entitles former ambassadors to diplomatic passports.

But it is highly improper of him to use the diplomatic passport of his country, whose foreign policy he no longer represents but even opposes, to travel for personal business reasons to a country whose Head of State he is suing in the International Criminal Court.

The worst is still to come. Candidates won who have no sense of delicadeza. It means voters also do not know what delicadeza means or they would not have voted for candidates who have no such sense.

Our lack of a sense of moral propriety is truly appalling.


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