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Senatorial honesty

Netnet Camomot .

FACEBOOK had a strange notification for me recently: “(Name-of-a-friend) and (name-of-another-friend) are now friends, as you suggested.”

Wait, whaaat? As I suggested? When did that happen? Tsk tsk. Most probably years ago when I didn’t know what I know now. Darn.

FB should send us reminders such as, You suggested they should be friends—continue or delete?

I now have 1,147 FB friends. Sometimes I even forget that a certain acquaintance and I are FB friends, that’s why I rarely accept friend requests now because, well, para que if we won’t recognize each other, anyway, when we happen to meet somewhere over the rainbow.

I became an FB user in 2008 when people were still eager to send and accept friend requests. Those were the clueless days.

If you’ve been an FB user for ten years and the promised reunion with college friends has remained a promise, let’s hope your newly formed chat group will finally make that reunion come true.

FB was supposed to keep people closer. FB has also resulted to some kind of assurance: Naa ra bitaw sila pirmi sa chat group.

And that’s the chat group where members can have instant group video calls wherever and whenever as long as everyone’s online.

Last month, we were in Manila for a mini-reunion with high school classmates, and some of the absentees—with one in the US—were able to talk with us through a video call that we initiated while inside the car and it continued until we were looking for the venue of our lunch reunion at a mall.

The world has indeed shrunk, thanks to video calls, social media, and airline promo fares.

Our high school classmates have reached that certain age when comfort is the key in choosing shoes, when we’d rather stay home and have quality time with family, when we go out of the house only for work and for quality time with true friends, when we’re ambivalent on letting our adult children do whatever they want since the environment is never absolutely safe for them to do whatever they want.

In the future, our children will probably stay home the whole day while working and communicating online with their colleagues—no need to go out of the house and add more cars to the traffic.

For now, there are other kinds of “traffic” that may encourage a parent to be strict with his children. Human trafficking. Sex trafficking. Drug trafficking. Which children may take for granted when they don’t understand the fear and concern in their parents’ hearts.

So, how bad is drug trafficking? If the P1.8-billion worth of shabu that the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) intercepted at the Manila International Container Port is not enough to convince you it’s bad, here’s how PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino explained why drugs have remained aplenty in Pinas: “They will never stop trafficking and smuggling illegal drugs in our country. They will never stop putting up drug laboratories in our country. When we interrogate Chinese chemists, or anyone involved in the illegal drug trade, the first thing they…tell us is that there’s no death penalty in the Philippines (“Vietnam info leads to P1.8B ‘shabu’ haul” by Jovic Yee and Jaymee T. Gamil, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 24, 2019).”

The death penalty has been making a slow but seemingly sure comeback in Pinas, with Pres. Rody Duterte even including it in his 2017 State of the Nation Address (Sona): “I ask Congress to act on all pending legislation to reimpose death penalty on heinous crime.”

“In the Philippines, it’s really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Duterte added, in that same Sona.

Once death penalty is again recommended as a deterrent to crimes, human rights advocates will again protest against it. Where does Pinas go from there?

Aquino—of PDEA, not the immediate past president—also said that drug traffickers “will continue to smuggle drugs” since “they can buy anybody—judges, prosecutors, even law enforcers—and return to their country safely.”

No wonder the senatoriable that the Pinoy voter prefers is the one who “will not be corrupt,” based on a Social Weather Station survey done on Dec. 16-19, 2018.

The antonym of corrupt is honest.

And honesty as a requirement for senators has morphed into this: Ano ba talaga, Kuya? Or Ate, since Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales are both women.

Last March 9, Duterte-Carpio said, “Ang importante is, ano ‘yung required ng batas. Ano ba sinasabi ng batas for a senator? Able to read and write, natural-born citizen. Does it say na dapat good moral character ‘yung tao? Does it say the person has to be honest? Kaya sinabi ko, kung honesty ang pagbasehin natin, disqualified lahat.”

On March 21, Morales released this statement: “The word honesty is in the Constitution, which explicitly declares that ‘the State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service.’ Upholding the Constitution is part of every public officer’s oath of office.”

The next day, Duterte-Carpio said, “Yes, oo, I agree… Nasa Constitution ‘yun eh, public office is a public trust. But I was saying, honesty is not a requirement for candidates.”

Well, we understand Duterte-Carpio’s skeptical and cynical view on honesty—perhaps she’s merely preparing the Pinoy voter for post-election reality.

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