A Mockery Of Whistle-Blowing And Anti-Corruption Efforts: PSLINK

February 13, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
MANILA – The current Jun Lozada expose has brought to fore many critical issues chief of which is the preponderance of graft and corruption in the country. But for civil servants, the whole affair most glaringly exposed the lack of security, protection mechanisms and regard accorded to whistle-blowers.

Ironically, it is the administration itself to blame for this sad state of affairs.
Whistle-blowing has been proven to be an integral and effective tool in fighting corruption around the world. But the Arroyo administration has besmirched the essence of whistle-blowing in the country as can be gleaned from the recent showdown between the administration witnesses and Lozada in the Senate.
The administration came fully prepared for battle during the hearing. With all their doggedness, they endeavored to discredit Lozada, portraying him as the mischief maker, an attention-grabber, somebody who had a “penchant for drama.”
They insisted on inconsistencies in Lozada’s claims, exploiting whatever gap they could find and making a whole fuss about it. Further, they went all-out to convince the public that Lozada was not abducted to prevent him from testifying and accused him and his family of acting in “bad faith” when they filed a petition for writs of habeas corpus and amparo.
All these efforts by the government have turned the whole affair intended to unveil the truth behind a highly questionable multi-million dollar broadband project into a mere recital of rehearsed lies, ruses and red herrings.
If there’s anybody acting in bad faith, it is the Arroyo administration, with its manipulative ways and palpable efforts to curtail the truth by preventing its executive officials from testifying and discouraging the practice of whistle-blowing as a way to fight corruption.
We commend Lozada for speaking up even at the risk of retaliatory attacks from those in power. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing glamorous, advantageous or comfortable in being a whistleblower.
As a national union of government workers committed to eradicating corruption in the public sector, we have had to live through the sad reality of whistle-blowing under this administration. In a lesser publicized case, but which involves a cabinet official of Arroyo nonetheless, some of our affiliates who blew the whistle against TESDA Director General Augusto Syjuco have had to go through the same intimidation, coercion and emotional distress to which Lozada had been subjected to.
Consequently, we sympathize with Lozada and the rest like him who have suffered unduly because of this administration’s intolerance to criticisms and whistleblowers.
Lozada’s coming out heralds a new sensitivity on the part of the Filipino public to whistleblowing. Unlike in previous high-profile whistleblowing cases where those who blew the whistle did not quite get sympathy from the public, Lozada is believable in the eyes of many.
The fact that Lozada has acknowledged his improprieties in the past does not make him less of a whistleblower. In contrast, it actually shows his humility and sincerity. This explains why the majority of the public has taken his side.
Corruption is an age-old problem but it has become pervasive and insidious more than ever because fighting it is impossible under the current administration. We cannot expect any change under an administration that makes a mockery of authentic whistleblowers and anti-corruption stalwarts. We cannot expect change under an administration that turns crooked officials into allies and beneficiaries of goodwill, and legitimate whistleblowers into wrongdoers and enemies of the state.
We urge other brave souls privy to anomalous government deals and projects to come out. Let us use whistle-blowing as a legitimate medium to report on the excesses and unjust and immoral practices under the Arroyo administration. Let us use it as a means to challenge wrongdoing in the government and rid it of corrupt and abusive officials.
PSLINK is an umbrella organization of unions and associations in the public sector representing more than 80,000 government workers in the Philippines. PSLINK is committed to the development of a Strong, Accountable, Comprehensive, Responsive, Effective and Democratic (SACRED) Public Services and campaigns for responsible unionism and social dialogue.

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