Moral uprightness

Leadership is thrown to the test when principles are questioned. Leaders are placed in tough situations on a regular basis. Considering that leaders do not live in a vacuum or a bubble, they are often faced with conflicting interests where the decision to be made may not make everyone happy. Regardless, the leader’s decision must stand and be followed, which is why we must always ensure that our leaders are morally upright, evidently competent, and often given wise counsel.

The worst leader is someone who speaks as if his word is God’s gift to mankind. Followers are expected to bend their knees and nod their heads until their necks are stiff. Whenever this leader makes a mistake, he will make it appear that everyone else is wrong so that he would appear to be correct. If their competence or repute is questioned, the doubters will be put at the stake to repent. It becomes a wicked cycle within the institution, and the only losers will be those without knowledge of the tyranny since it is the institution that truly suffers, not the leader.

A leader was put to the test when his son was subjected to a well-publicized arrest. Father and son relationships are a balancing act, from infancy to adulthood, and we see this a lot in Philippine politics which is familial in nature. Family squabbles are internal and usually confidential in nature, but when politicians are involved, these become public spectacles. At times, political families use this to drum up attention for an upcoming election, making themselves stars until a ‘plot twist’ nearing election day, making the other candidates mere ‘extras’ in a telenovela-like saga. This time, unfortunately, is a different matter.

The Justice Secretary is required to uphold the law and implement it to the fullest extent. When his son was arrested for drug importation, this undoubtedly brought the issue to the forefront where each detail of the procedure is observed at a microscopic level. The father was reportedly among the first to learn about the arrest while he was on an official trip in Geneva, Switzerland — it must have been a long flight back home. Upon arrival, he held a press conference denouncing calls for him to resign and ensured his total non-interference in the investigation and later prosecution. After all, his son is a fully grown adult at 38 years of age.

I must agree that this is not a reason for him to resign. If the son was a minor, it might be a different story. I am not in a position to criticize the Secretary as a father, but it does appear that these two men have grown to live on different paths. The Secretary is an established politician, now Justice Secretary, while the son is busy importing drugs using public couriers — not a very wise thing to do.

Regardless, the Justice Secretary did the right thing by giving importance to his public role but at the same time stood as a disciplinarian to his son. The justice system is here for a reason, and it must be put to the ultimate test on his own flesh and blood. Had the Justice Secretary decided to favor the liberality of the law for his own, the main loser here would be the institution, the Department of Justice, and therefore the justice system, our rule of law, the government, and, ultimately, the Filipino people. Leaders must take the high ground in all things they do. If they decide to cut corners, the people who rely on their leadership will suffer.


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