This year has been consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic and lives and livelihood have been negatively affected because of the unprecedented health crisis.
But former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales believes there is a ray of light amidst the darkness.
During her keynote address at the “Pilipinas Conference 2020: Opportunities within the COVID-Crisis: Towards Transparent and Accountable Governance” Thursday, Morales said that people can choose to become either optimists or pessimists in this scenario.
She cited Winston Churchill, who once stated that a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity while an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
“The entire world is now confronted with either a difficulty or an opportunity depending on which perspective to take,” she said. “In any given nation, believers in good governance see the silver lining while skeptics simply cross their fingers and doubt the chances of genuine reform.”
Morales said that people will enter the post-pandemic stage with a thirst for real reform in governance. “While this pandemic has unleashed a cataclysm never before, it has meanwhile unraveled a catalyst for change never thought of before,” she said.
If there is one thing that previous pandemics and global crisis have proven, it’s that corruption thrives and flourishes during these difficult times.
While there is a need for urgent action to prevent the Philippines from economically and socially collapsing, Morales said that lack of sufficient accountability and oversight mechanisms in the allocation and distribution of economic stimulus packages only increase the risk of corruption and fraud.
Morales stressed that governance with high accountability, transparency, and trust is needed more than ever.
Morales hopes that people will learn to demand better from their government.
“In weathering this storm, I believe the people in a post-pandemic scenario will mean serious business this time around in holding power to account, especially since their lives and livelihood have been at stake throughout the duration of the pandemic,” she said.
“Indeed the people should remain vigilant more than ever, the people should watch closely how the power wielders exercise the extended powers at their disposal on top of the vast array of already existing governmental powers. If these leaders seriously fail in their use of power, it will not go unpunished.”