Lying has become a contagious bad national habit
Saying that lying has become a bad national habit, independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee probing the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, has taken issue with the matter.
"Of course, we do not expect murderers, thieves and robbers to admit to their crimes even when they are caught red-handed," he said.
"What we do not expect - and should not expect - is for morally upright people to keep quiet when they know of a crime - especially in the case of the fertilizer fund scam, when people ought to be speaking up," he added.
Gordon said that lying - and refusing to testify against criminals - has become a bad national habit that ought to be broken. This, he pointed out, may be rooted in the sad fact that good citizens lack confidence in the police and the justice system.
"We've already undertaken steps to strengthen the witness protection program as well as give the Ombudsman funds to hire more prosecutors. We understand that people can be easily intimidated into silence and we want to make it harder for criminals to intimidate honest and morally upright citizens," said Gordon.
Over the course of the Senate's fertilizer fund scam hearings, Gordon has scored former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante several times for not telling the truth and continuing to be evasive.
The committee has filed a case against Bolante for violations of Articles 150 (disobedience to legitimate summons) and 183 (false testimony) of the Revised Penal Code now pending before the Department of Justice.
Gordon has also asked other "key players" in the fertilizer fund scam to be straightforward and honest as they testify before the Senate hearing so that they can clear their good name before the nation, especially among the poor farmers.
"It would not be good for them if they keep on being evasive and worse, hide the truth from us. History would not be kind to them. Let us remind ourselves, time and again, of the gospel maxim - the truth shall set us free," he said.
The Senate blue ribbon committee expects to bring in together other "key players" implicated in the P728-million fertilizer project in its next hearing scheduled on Jan. 20, 2009.