Health of the Presidency

small logo

The health of our nation and its economy is directly and intricately linked to the health of our president, physically, morally and otherwise. The mounting allegations against President Joseph Estrada of bribery, corruption, immorality, and callous disregard for the image of the presidency, our country and the Filipino people, are not only an international embarrassment but a domestic catastrophe for our already sick economy. And for him to even flaunt his misadventures publicly only adds insult to injury to a wounded people.

The cry for the resignation of the President is getting louder each day, and the move to impeach him is gaining momentum. While he stated that he will resign only if proven guilty of the charges, he should be reminded that in a democracy, such as ours, the privilege to govern emanates from the governed, the Filipino people. If the people want him to step down, no proof of innocence is necessary. Even if Mr. Estrada were a saint, if the governed, for any reason, demands his resignation, he must go. This is the essence of democracy. The power is in the governed, not in the government. The appearance of criminal and/or moral impropriety involving the highest office in the land is, by and in itself, enough justification for those who elected the President to recall him. Mr. Estrada's resignation is his only honorable option.

The determination of guilt or innocence in a trial comes after the accused leaves office. And this is one avenue that must not be neglected, if only to serve notice to, and teach, all our legislators and public officials in all branches of the national and local government a good lesson in Justice 101, Integrity 102 and Accountability 103. No one is above the law. The guilty must be punished and not simply be booted out of office. This will restore the confidence not only of our people but of the international community of investors, a fundamental equation in reviving our economy and boosting our national morale.

The standard of justice should not be higher for the citizen and lower for the public officials. As a matter of fairness, the reverse should be true. The leaders we

Page Two Health of the Presidency

elect into office must be held to a higher standard and be made accountable for every action they take. There must also be total transparency of both the private and public life of all office seekers and those in the government, especially in their morality, personal finances, dealings and holdings.

Since People Power can do miracles, let us not stop at Mr. Estrada. We can start with him but let us not single him out. Let us be fair. After him, let us do a general cleansing of the entire cabinet, the legislature, the judiciary, followed by the same among the provincial, city and town officials. This will surely take time, as miracles often do, but since we have the inertia, let us not stop with Erap.

Our free falling economy and the poor Filipinos languishing in poverty are more than enough justification to change the leadership of our country. We used to pride ourselves in being second to the best economy in Asia. Today, we are second to the bottom, only a step above Bangladesh, inspite of our rich natural resources and our great potentials. It is indeed a shame.

History has repeatedly shown that corruption in the government in any part of the globe, including the United States in its early years, has devastated the economy and the health of the nation and its people. Honest and effective leadership, based on integrity and good morals, albeit with a dash of paternal dictatorship as in the case of prosperous Singapore, which has earned the envy of all Asian countries and the admiration of the world, is certainly a thousand fold better than the leadership the Philippines has. But I, of all people, will be the last to advocate despotism.

Personally, we are disappointed that the people movement for honesty and integrity in government is starting only now. It was long overdue. And our country and people have suffered immensely from our own indifference and inaction. Hopefully, the movement for a better government this time will gain enough momentum to finally weed our system of crooks and charlatans from all branches of the government in the nation, provinces and cities. This might take time, but the effort is worth it. The Filipinos, indeed, do deserve much better. Let People Power and the Spirit of EDSA come alive once more!

We need a fall guy to begin with, and the first one to chop off is, of course, the head. The rest of the crooks to follow. And may they all crumble one by one like dominoes!

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.