January 29, 2023

Proverbs 10:9 states: “Whoever walks in integrity and with moral character walks securely, but he who takes the crooked way will be discovered and punished.”
Integrity has at all times, been stressed to be one of the qualifications for public office especially those of key positions. It is not a new concept, as in the early 1600’s, Francis Bacon, a philosopher, statesman, and jurist, in his “Essay LVI: Of Judicature”, said: “Above all things, integrity is the proper virtue.”
It is not so complex concept necessitating esoteric philosophical disquisitions to be understood.
Simply, it is a qualification of being honest, truthful, and having steadfast adherence to moral and ethical principles. Integrity connotes being consistent – doing the right thing in accordance with the law and ethical standards every time, as applied in the case of the unseated Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Former United States President Thomas Jefferson remarked, “It is of great importance to set resolution, never not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible and he who permits himself to tell lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual, he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart and in time depraves all its good dispositions.”
Mental dishonesty and moral mischief breed questions on integrity.
The Tulfo brothers, Sen. Raffy and Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Erwin are facing a possible ejectment from their posts as both journalists have been convicted by final judgment of libel, a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). Libel implies a behavior that is fraudulent, deceitful, or harmful to others.
The conviction carries additional consequences that can be quite devastating. In addition to the damages due the offended party and the penalties, there are consequences, which could affect their position if not their reputation.
A CIMT is not a specific offense but an annex to the crime. There is no black and white definition for what a CIMT is. It is debatable and with no “consistent or easily applied set of criteria” that can be used to identify it.
Generally, it consists of fraud or “almost always involve an intent to harm someone, the actual infliction of harm upon someone, or an action that affects a protected class of victims”. It is a depraved conduct that shocks the conscience.
In addition to his conviction, Sec. Tulfo has issues on his U.S. citizenship, which he admitted to have acquired in the late 1980s and only renounced early 2022. Claiming he is no longer a citizen, he renounced the same, records show that his passport remains “American.” Sen. Tulfo, on the other hand, has a disqualification case filed by his wife.
That is probably the reason why the senator is rushing to have his bill de-criminalizing libel approved.
Once done, it would have a retroactive effect beneficial to the accused, practically him and his brother as it removes the obstacle to their positions for which they are hanging on for dear life. As it is and with the way the newbie solon is making enemies with his co-equals, it would have difficulties in the floor, even if it is disguised as a proposed legislation for freedom of the press.
Legally, the brothers would fail and about to be booted out. They should listen to the advice of their older brother Ramon, who wrote in his column “resign!” If they don’t, a question rises – are they morally fit to serve their posts?
Sigh.