Ombudsman: Failure to uphold rule of law disregards human dignity
MANILA, Philippines – On International Anti-Corruption Day, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales stressed the need to uphold the rule of law, as failure to do so would disregard human dignity.
Speaking at an anti-corruption forum in Quezon City on Friday, December 9, the Ombudsman said that the rule of law allows an independent judiciary to safeguard the rights of everyone – may it be the innocent, the accused, or even the guilty.
According to Morales, the building block of the rule of law is integrity, which entails having the courage to do the right thing no matter what the consequences will be.
"The moment you disregard rule of law is the moment you disregard human spirit and dignity. Consequently, anarchy and tyranny follows," she cautioned.
Her statement comes days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would not allow the cops involved in the operation against the late Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr to go to jail, despite findings by the National Bureau of Investigation they are liable for murder.
From the day after Duterte assumed office, over 5,800 deaths have been linked to his "war on drugs" as of December 3. Of this number, 3,841 are victims of vigilante-style killings.
Days before Duterte's inauguration in June, Morales urged vigilance in upholding the rule of law. In November, the Ombudsman called out "blind loyalty" among supporters who continue to cheer human rights abuses rather than condemn them.
In her speech, the Ombudsman said that the rule of law and citizen participation serves as the foundation of public service.
What we need, according to her, are leaders who are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to preserve human dignity and basic human rights.
As the rule of law goes hand in hand with citizen participation, she described the kind of leaders our country needs:
"We need more public servants in all levels of the bureaucracy who have integrity. We need leaders who put premium on the rule of law more than anything else. We need leaders who uphold the rule of law regardless of the times. We need leaders who strengthen public institutions, who serve as a moral compass, and the beacon of righteous public service. We need leaders who provide a sanctum of inspiration and a motivation to decide and to do what is right even when no one is watching."
Morales explained that she was not only referring to the heads of government agencies or head of institutions. Everyone is a leader, she said.
Many policies and initiatives had been done in the past to prevent corrupt practices but clearly, more needs to be done.
Morales said the Office of the Ombudsman needs the support of every Filipino in combatting graft. "We can totally eradicate corruption by ourselves," she said.
"Change is not coming because it has always been there. Change is the only thing that is constant," stressed Morales as she invited everyone to work together to combat corruption.
"Let us be the change we want for the good of our nation," she said.
Since the passage of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003, International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually every December 9.
Every year, the Philippines loses billions of dollars to corrupt practices. Money lost could have been used instead to provide vital basic services, reduce poverty, or build infrastructure. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Impact of corruption on the Philippines)
Toward the end of her speech, Morales said: "Let rule of law and participatiory governance be the cornerstone of Philippine democracy. This is the challenge to all Filipinos." – Rappler.com