A Matter of Priority
Byline: Edgardo J. Angara
WHEN one is faced with two important matters to be done at the same time, prioritization comes into play.
This is the situation that I faced last week. In the heat of arguments over the rules of canvass at the joint congressional committee level, I decided to honor my long-standing commitment to attend the four-day conference on fighting corruption held at Wilton Park, West Sussex, in the United Kingdom. The conference is sponsored by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Global Association Against Corruption or GOPAC.
I am the only Asian Board member of GOPAC and I had been greatly involved in its activities. In fact, I had the privilege to co-chair a select committee of Parliamentarians who crafted the UN Convention Against Corruption held in Merida, Mexico, last December 2003.
Why did I choose to attend the conference over the congressional canvassing, which is equally important to me? The answer is a matter of expediency. At the canvassing sessions, we have so many other stalwarts in the united opposition who will tenaciously guard and protect the sanctity of our votes. In this conference, on the other hand, I am the only Asian who has established linkages with other concerned parliamentarians and organizations fighting corruption on a global scale.
It would have been a grievous error on my part to pass up an auspicious opportunity to link up with world leaders in finding ways to curb official corruption. This is a duty as crucial as guarding the vote from "dagdag-bawas." Official corruption is also technically "dagdag-bawas" on our national coffers. Because of it, we incur additional obligations or debts and less income or revenues as public money goes into the pockets of corrupt government officers.
Among the topics discussed at the conference was "How Incumbency and Patronage Influence the Political Process." This is something very timely for us in the Philippines, given the recent election where the incumbent President was a candidate. …