By Grace M. Pulido Tan
That was Judas Iscariot – in today’s Gospel – asking Jesus at the Passover when He told them that one of the Twelve Disciples was about to betray Him. I imagine a great alacrity – yes, bright and cheerful readiness – with which Judas must have spoken, perhaps with an air of feigned innocence to boot, and I cringe in deep shame.
For how many times have we found ourselves in similar situations? Not of the magnitude and consequences as that of Judas perhaps, but still as insiduous in intent and malevolent in effect. Think of the many times we have pointed fingers to shift blame from ourselves, or made up stories to bring someone down. Think of the times we knew we were doing wrong, but went merrily on our way nonetheless, never worrying of possibly dire consequences?
Think of Boracay, for example. The finger pointing is everywhere. But how could those offending structures have just mushroomed before our very eyes, nay, the eyes of the community and its local officials? I am sure they did not emerge overnight; nor did their building blocks materialize, like magic, on-site. How long has everyone known – the developers, specially – that there were no sewage treatments provided for? How did they get away with it? Surely, the approving authorities knew or should have known; they were supposed to have reviewed the plans, didn’t they?
What of the millions of us who have reveled in the magnificent sands of Boracay at one time or another, did we even think that the ubiquituous fruitshake cups we tossed away would make any difference? Or where and how the oodles of unfinished food and other waste were being disposed of? Most probably not; we were on vacation and entitled to be undisturbed, unperturbed, by mundane thoughts like these – even if we knew we had to do our share.
Think of Dimple Star, too, and the lives that were hurt and snuffed by the all too familiar “lost brake.” It was not only the company’s obligation to ensure that the bus was fit to travel and its driver fit to drive; it is as well the duty of the concerned authorities to see to it that the company and its fleet are compliant with all pertinent safety regulations at all times. Why then the corroded body and bald tires, plainly evident even to the naked eye? After a string of fatal accidents almost year in and out, why is Dimple Star even on the road?
We all have the constitutional rights to protection of the State and to a healthful ecology. When those – whether in or out of government – charged with the responsibility to deliver these to the public fail to do so, whether by neglect, inaction, incompetence, or for one and a million perks, they betray not only their oaths of office, profession, or corporate responsibility; they betray, most specially, the public and the public interest. To me, Boracay and Dimple Star glaringly exemplify the true essence of betrayal of the public trust. And the real tragedy is in someone asking, “Not me, surely?” Who else then? Who is supposed to have been minding the store and protecting the public interest? Food for thought for Lent, dear readers.