By GEMMA CRUZ ARANETA
“Honesty is the best policy” – that time-tested motto often attributed to Benjamin Franklin must have been uttered by many a wise man, and woman, before him. Simple yet profound, it expresses a universal truth by which most of us abide, if only because it is embarrassing, if not risky, to be caught in one’s own web of lies. At the end of the day, it is safer and more intelligent to be truthful and honest, than to be deceitful.
Early this week, Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio of Davao City shocked us all beyond our wits. I myself have not quite recovered. The daughter of the incumbent president declared, with a poker face, that honesty is not an issue; not for the coming elections anyway. She added trenchant remarks about Filipino voters knowing that “everybody lies” anyway, so honesty is not pivotal. With that, Mayor Sara D. Carpio more than implied that Filipino voters are either hopelessly dumb or execrably unprincipled, or both. She probably wants to keep them that way. I could not help but feel offended.
Apparently, Mayor Sara Carpio made that shocking declaration when asked about Gov. Imee Marcos’ false academic records. That seems to be the context of the statement about voters knowing that “everybody lies” so, “honesty is not an issue in the elections” and that there is no law that requires honesty. Obviously, she has forgotten that in the 1987 Constitution, Article 2, Sec. 27 stipulates: “ The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and takes positive and effective measures against graft and corruption….” To this humble writer, Mayor Sara has, inadvertently perhaps, pulled back the veil on the reality of her personal political ambitions and her moral standards and values.
It appears that the Duterte camp did not expect the cascade of negative feedback on social as well as on mainstream media. Imagine, former Mayor Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency (39% of total votes) as he promised to obliterate corruption in government, only for his daughter to cast aside the virtue of honesty. The tinsel of that mammoth kick-off in Pampanga had not quite settled when Mayor Sara D. Carpio, principal campaign manager of the electoral apparatus “Hugpong ng Pagbabago,” had to rush to Davao to deal with an urgent “family matter.” Her younger brother, Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, had to take her place. We can only speculate why she changed her schedule on the fly.
According to news reports, Mrs. Elizabeth Zimmerman Duterte, Mayor Sara’s mother, sort of scolded her daughter and told her to stop bullying Vice President Leni Robredo as well as the opposition Ocho Diretso candidates. Her mother counselled her to be kind, to think of what she is going to say before speaking, and if she cannot be kind, it is better not to speak. I wonder if the honesty issue and the mass lying came up; anyway, I hope she follows her mother’s advice to stop harassing VP Robredo. Did her father give her a piece of his mind? She said they hardly ever see each other.
As for us common mortals, we have been asking each other if the Philippines has already hit rock bottom. I feel that I am crossing a river and feeling the stones. That Mayor Sarah Duterte Carpio is being projected as the future president is more than just subliminal; she has arrogantly challenged the opposition to an 8 versus 1 debate even if she is not even a candidate. It is ominous that to her, honesty is not the best policy. She seems oblivious that honesty is a constitutional requirement, if not a moral one. We are dancing on the heads of snakes. Is the worst yet to come?