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Let us now walk the Daang Matuwid!

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Public officials, particularly those occupying positions of great responsibility, must today exercise their initiative to restore our people’s confidence that indeed every public office is a public trust. For too long now, many high public officials have treated rumors and even open reports about their alleged improprieties with cavalier neglect. When these reports persist, many officials under increased scrutiny merely issue uninformative blanket denials through spokespersons and often stonewall all further inquiries with a dedma stance suggesting that only legal processes will pry an explanation from them. While indeed public officials who are subjects of alleged improprieties should be regarded as innocent until proven otherwise, it must also be asserted that public officials whose reputations are tainted by suspicions must be objects of doubt until such suspicions are duly and fully clarified.

Unresolved public doubts about the integrity of heads of government offices erode the morale of their fellow civil servants and weaken our citizens’ respect for government, both of which are essential for effective governance. Whenever suspicions concerning integrity of high public officials arise, prompt, detailed and forthcoming explanations from the officials concerned are critical to clearing the air and reaching our people while they remain willing and open to such explanations.

Thus, we, former senior government officials, now urge our incumbent public officials to set a new example of responsible behavior. Whenever any issue concerning their integrity arises, our public officials should not wait for public opinion, political clamor or legal processes to gather steam and pressure them to respond. They should come forward and provide a full and factual explanation that responds to any doubt raised by the issue.

Specifically, we call today on the following public officials, who are subject of unresolved issues raised concerning their integrity, to come forward and show themselves as persons above suspicion by providing the public a full and responsive explanation about these issues aired against them.

* We call on Chief Justice Renato Corona to respond directly to the accusation of Mr. Lauro Visconde that the Chief Justice was the source of reports concerning alleged improprieties surrounding the Supreme Court deliberations on the case of Webb, et al.

* We call on Ambassador and Retired General Roy Cimatu to distinguish himself as someone different from the forgetful Gens. Garcia and Ligot by providing his full and voluntary account of the nature and provenance of his personal assets.

* We call on Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to provide a public explanation about the involvement of his wife, sister and his former law firm in the ownership of a property in Quezon City.

We urge public officials who become subjects of publicly aired suspicions questioning their integrity to promptly provide the public with the information necessary to clear their names before public demands for accountability mount, before any Congressional hearing gets under way, before a case is filed against them. We urge these public officials to confront possibly mistaken public perceptions and even malicious inventions of troublemakers with their complete explanation. We urge these public officials not to be among those many crooked officials using the absence of cases or convictions as proof of their integrity and instead distinguish themselves as upright and honorable officials by taking the initiative to offer the factual explanation necessary for people to recognize and affirm their innocence. Persons holding public office must always take the effort to show they can be trusted.

This is an opportunity to now start walking the daang matuwid.

By Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO)




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