We are a people of dialogue. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


There are so many cynics in the country. This cynicism is directed at government and at people in government. It is a deep mistrust which explains the relentless criticism and attacks against the present administration as well as the cold and icy indifference to what is being done by government. The critics and the so-called fiscalizers don’t discriminate. Everyone in government is bad, very bad. So this government is going to the dogs, they say.

This cynicism is like an epidemic spreading fast nationwide. It is abetted and transmitted by some irresponsible media practitioners. Because the media networks have a wide coverage and pervade almost every nook and cranny of society, even the privacy of the bedroom, the contamination is assuredly effective. Cynicism, as a result, has become communal, sectoral, regional, and has the makings of a national malaise.

The exposé of corrupt officials has deepened cynical attitudes while measures to correct corrupt practices are either ignored or at least belittled. In summary, what the cynics are saying is that this present administration cannot do anything good.
But reason and common sense tell us that we cannot do and live without government, or outside of government. Our social, economic, political, cultural, and even religious, life is regulated by government. We cannot live outside of, and in defiance of, the rule of law. We can get into trouble if we violate the law, although some of us have gotten away with it—ignoring the law or taking the law into our hands. But this way of behaving is short-lived. Sooner or later, the law catches up with the culprits.

So we have no choices but to live within the parameters of governmental regulations and structures. And reason as well as common sense tell us we can do something to make government serve the interests and welfare of the people, the common good of everyone. How?

Weeding out corrupt people in government has already begun. The private sector, especially the churches and NGOs, have launched and undertaken projects towards this purpose. But while the process of cleaning government of corrupt personnel has been underway, the replacement process is slow and difficult. Many good and competent people tend to hesitate and have second thoughts in serving government. They are sincere and honest and possess good and noble ideas as well as remarkable skills. Their complaint is the system of government which, they say, breeds corruption. So, change the system by any means.

My personal view is that any system is as good as the people manning it. I do not know the ends and outs of unitary and federal forms of government. But I do know that competent, honest, strong, humane government officials can make any system within democracy really work for the common welfare of its people. This is the essence of democracy—the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. So people is crucially important and indispensable in government.

I believe that cynicism against government will slowly diminish if we all concentrate on people in government. They, too, need help. The help that can be offered to them is one that can improve their performance or one that can make them realize and accept that they are not the type to be in government, and to have the courage and humility to resign. What is this help?

This is what I may call systematic values formation program for people in government, from top to bottom beginning with the president herself. She may not need the program herself but her humble personal participation will inspire others. The institutions of higher learning and the churches can pool their talents and know-how to formulate such a program. The core value of this program should be the universal moral truth and principle which makes a person truly human and behave in a humane way. This truth is found in Christianity, Islam and in the Fundamental Religions of our indigenous peoples. Discovering this truth, being possessed by it, and making it the core of human relations and aspirations, will affirm the universal declaration that we all have a common origin and a common destiny.

When this program takes off the ground, the cynic will still find it difficult to appreciate. For cynicism blurs the cynic’s vision and incapacitates him/her to see the reality of emerging change and the moral truth underpinning it. But not for long. The private sector, that is, the citizenry to which the cynic belongs, will eventually feel the need to join the undertaking and get involved in the process. A new culture shall have been started—the culture of change which paradoxically is the only permanent thing in life.

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference

February 2, 2005