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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, July 11, 2016
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Matter of honesty


Two themes of the speeches delivered by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Mayor Evelio Leonardia during the latter's inauguration last July 6 revolved on the matter of honesty. Mayor Leonardia, in fact, narrated how the previous administration of the city practically emptied the city's coffers, implying the massive dishonesty that prevailed in the city government from 2013 to the last minutes of its termination noon of June 30, 2016.

Let me quote two historic people who left us their views on honesty to put us on the right perspective.

The first President of the United States, George Washington said, “I hope that I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” Later his successor, Thomas Jefferson added, “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”

This book on honesty should be seen from the perception of what Jean Bodin, French philosopher, jurist and parliamentarian who lived in the 16 th century said, “The study of history is the beginning of political wisdom.”

Unfortunately, former President Benigno Aquino did not study the history of honesty and failed to learn political wisdom. He was honest but the people who surrounded him were not and way down the line of his governance dishonesty flourished.

The same thing happened to the former Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella, not only did he not learn the character of honesty but his staff and retinue went into wanton looting of the city's coffers. The investigation that will be conducted by Mayor Leonardia will unravel the extent of this looting. The initial information alone makes me shudder to think that the city could be so plundered.

Mayor Leonardia promised a government that is competent, efficient and honest. Nobody can argue with that objective and for that he needs all the help he can get. We have no reason to doubt his intentions and perhaps his image in Bacolod's history as Washington was in US history. Indeed the most “enviable title” is that of “a character of honesty”.

On July 1, Mayor Leonardia presented his initial staff to the employees and to the people of Bacolod. It was a good staff except for one who I know is not honest. This will be the bad seed that the mayor is sowing.

Remember the parable of the sower in the Bible? He sowed good seed but the devil also sowed weeds and when they grew the weeds devoured the good ones. He ordered his workers to remove first the weeds and throw them out into the fire.

It is inappropriate for me to suggest that Mayor Leonardia uproot the weed within his staff for that is his choice and he alone is accountable for his choices. Maybe the dishonest staff member is of some use, good or ill. Only time will tell if the choice was right or will be something he will rue someday. One effect, though, is that he is keeping away others who cannot work under this situation where a weed can grow and blemish others.

This was the defect of the Puentevella administration. He was surrounded by a dishonest staff from even before he entered the Government Center. Perhaps emboldened by Puentevella's own character, they made hay with the city's finances.

Now they face the day of reckoning because the City Legal Officer, Joselito Bayatan has dug up more dirt than we have expected. He told me of some details and perhaps the information will find their way in the City's PIO releases.

There is much talk about the political unity that now prevails in the city. Grupo Progreso controls the city's future and their majority can be good or bad. The Puentevella government used its majority for ill, believing perhaps that might is right, their majority gave them the power to do whatever pleased them.

This can be a disease that can afflict the GP majority. As yet we do not know how they will perform because we must admit that the media people of Puentevella had been emasculated and the way is open for abuse without public criticism.

This is where independent media comes in, to exercise their adversarial role as the Fourth Estate: to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, now the Grupo Progreso. We must be as vigilant as before when MKK ruled the city. We must insist they keep to their covenant of honesty.*





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