Character, not Charter, change?

Calling for character, not Charter, change is as much a dig at the logic of amending the Constitution as a critique of the people pushing for it, which makes it a good slogan.

The thought is not original, though, being merely a variation of the line that the problem in this country is not the system but the people running the system.

The theory was even pushed to the extreme years back with the thesis that the only way for this country to progress is to purge the system (variant: exterminate) of all trapos and develop new politicians untouched by old influences and vices.

But used against the aborted push by the Arroyo administration for a Senate-less constituent assembly, the line acquires relevance.

Unfortunately for some priests and other sectors using the slogan, previous negative experiences have made calls for character change applicable not only to advocates of Charter change but also to those opposing it.

The Church-led prayer-rally last Sunday, for example, included politicians who could not claim ascendancy on the matter of character over those in the Arroyo administration.

Some Catholic bishops are even openly aligning themselves with remnants of the discredited Marcos and Estrada governments.

Neanwhile, the actuation of bishops, with regards to erring priests, has created a credibility problem for the Catholic Church hierarchy the past several years.

The Church can no longer call for character change without being asked to account for what it has done for itself in this direction.

Character change in relation to the failings of the political system also brings into focus the relation between leaders and the led.

The faults of elected government officials eventually leads to a consideration of the kind of people that voted them into office—or how their character flaws have allowed flawed leaders to take the helm of government.

Character change calls, therefore, must be all-encompassing and not limited, honest and not hypocritical.

-Bong Wenceslao (I wrote this editorial for Sun.Star Cebu and it was published on Dec. 19, 2006)

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