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4th Estate – Guardian of public wealth


What is morally censurable about many of our political leaders is the fact that upon assumption to public office, they immediately go into a frenzy of transforming it into a private property. They start buying expensive furniture, curtains, and other amenities using tax payers’ money and live like royalties. Once in power, the construction of a dynasty or family corporation begins. At present, you see this political renaissance all over the Philippines.

Maintaining a luxurious public office when the majority of the people are impoverished and hungry is immoral and contrary to the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials. Go around the different public offices and you will be paralyzed by awe and shock to find key political officials basking in luxury, grandeur, and extravagance courtesy of the honest and uncomplaining taxpayers. Their offices are not only luxuriously furnished but also tightly and heavily guarded and equipped with the latest digitally-controlled and operated security software and hardware. With taxpayers’ fiscal resources, they are more than l00% secure and safe from all kinds of threats and risks while the city streets and the rural communities are left to the mercy of all kinds of criminals.

What is even more reprehensible is to observe some public officials behaving like Lords and Masters who treat everyone in their offices like slaves who can be shouted at and badmouthed any which way they want. For me, there is absolutely nothing to brag about being public officials for they are just people’s servants subject to criticism and disciplinary action if they do not satisfactorily perform their duties and responsibilities stipulated in their respective job descriptions. It’s needless for us to stress and remind them that “public office is a public trust.” 

So whether you are the President of the Republic of the Philippine or a street sweeper both of you are officially classified as servants of the public employed and paid by the taxpayers. The only distinguishing feature between the two of you is the rank or position you occupy. Both of you are expected to serve your true master, the taxpaying citizens, in all honesty, dignity, honor, loyalty, devotion, and to the best of your ability. If you don’t measure up, the people have all the right to complain, criticize you publicly, or charge you with unsatisfactory performance or incompetence.

If you don’t want public criticism or negative commentary from the sovereign people or just from one dissatisfied tax payer, then the option is wide open for you to step down and live in the quiet and serenity of private life. The electoral mandate you received, is not a license for you to do anything you want in public office. It is a vote of trust and confidence that you are supposed to safeguard by serving and behaving according to the  code of conduct prescribed for government officials and Oath of Office you signed.

The 4th Estate will always be around to act as guardian and watchdog of people’s wealth, interest, and welfare despite grave threats, intimidation, and harassment from tyrants, despots, and dynasts. A fearless, factual, and incorruptible journalist would prefer to die hard in defense of liberty, justice, truth, and respectability than be a canine, subservient, and bribable accomplice for all kinds of venalities in government.

Without an independent, uncompromising, responsible, professional, and rationally critical, and investigative Press, the thieves, swindlers, plunderers, corrupters, and grafters of the taxpayers’ monies, would have sucked every centavo in our national treasury by now. This is the reason why journalists’ lives are always on the line. And if one heroic journalist is brutally murdered or mysteriously liquidated, it is very likely that a powerful official who enforces strictly the “Code of Silence” in his command, is behind.

By Clem M. Bascar

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