It is important for the government and for government officials to be honest to the people. Truth is the best bridge to build trust and confidence between the government and its people.
My memory always takes me to the 1992 motion picture “A Few Good Men” when the subject of government and public official integrity is brought up. Remember the movie? For most who have seen it, the following dialogue and exchanges between actors Tom Cruise (“Lt. Daniel Kaffee”) and Jack Nicholson (“Col. Nathan Jessep”) are unforgettable---
Col. Jessep: You want answers?
The subject of lying and demanding truth from government officials is again a hot issue in the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte admitted in public that he made up the bank account number that he accused Sen Antonio Trillanes IV of having at a Singapore bank. The president also said that he knew in the first place that the senator had no such account.
What is happening here? Did the president forget the sacred oath that most Filipino boys of his generation were taught during their years in the Boy Scouts---
“On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, . . .”
The admission of the president leads many people now to question more strongly his bloody war on drugs and whether the number of drug users and addicts as claimed by him are true.
According to the official estimates in 2012, there were 1.3 million users, which amount to 1.3% of the country’s population in 2012. The primary source for this information is the government’s own Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
But during his political campaign for presidency and when he assumed office, President Duterte started feeding the public that there are “3.7 to 4 million addicts or even more.”
Then this year the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) estimates that there are 4.7 million drug personalities in the country, the highest figure cited by the administration since launching the drug war which now leads the Philippine president to claim that the problem is already a “national security threat.”
Many Filipinos believed the president’s numbers and his pronouncements at first including his promise that he will “solve the drug problem” in the country in three to six months. More than a year has passed since he took office and it is estimated that more than 10,000 deaths have resulted from his drug war, but recently, he admitted that the problem cannot be solved during his term.
Then came this recent boast that he “fooled” Sen. Antonio Trillanes about the offshore bank account in Singapore. But by not being truthful and making admissions about statements said that are not true--- who actually is making a fool of himself?
The president should never forget that the public and the people listen to him and they remember what he says. And what he says will affect the people’s trust in him if he is caught lying.
The Filipino people remember that their president told them many times before that he grew-up poor, that he slept under a “mosquito net” just like any ordinary poor person, and that he could relate to those who are disadvantaged in society because his family was also poor. But now that his net worth and assets are at issue, President Duterte claims that what he has came from assets that he inherited from his family.
The president needs to be told and he needs to know that the Filipino people want the truth and that they deserve to know the truth. He should also start believing more and trusting the people’s intelligence and that it is not up to him to decide and to make the call whether his people can handle the truth or not--- especially when it comes to matters of public safety, liberty, and government and public official integrity.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.