What ‘moral forces movement’?

What moral force movement?

Chief Justice Puno is reportedly convening his advisory council in the coming days – composed as he claims of representatives from – business, Church, media, government, youth and other concerned sectors of society. The council apparently will serve as the organizational framework for so-called moral force movement in the fight against corruption. And the resulting group shall be launched before the Holy Week sometime in April.

One thing about this plan is the claim that there will not be any single politician who will be involved in the movement and that the members of said council will yet have to draw certain parameters. In other words, everything for now resides in the limbo of meaningless utterances especially where it claims well-respected individuals will constitute the core group with no known political affiliations – for or against. That sounds like a utopia, doesn’t it?

Apparently, the aim is an information drive to educate people of the ills of society so that they will ‘not be desensitized into inaction’. However, it should allow them to take a stand but in a manner that is positive as well as constructive and not one of pointing an accusing finger to anyone, however, maybe corrupt. Rather consciously, Puno is saying that the movement will be neutral but ought to have a stand against corruption. It will be neutral but it will campaign for clean and honest elections for 2010, so on and so forth. Is this mere lip service?

Furthermore, since the movement ought to be neutral, it will not endorse any particular candidate for 2010. To his view, CJ Puno believes the culprit for all our societal ills are the declining moral standards such that unless one is able to arrest moral decadence, even democracy might be in peril. Moral decadence, under this view, is the root cause of graft and corruption and poverty. In our given contemporary milieu, morality and politics have their own ontological realms.

Obliquely however, CJ Puno exhorts the moral forces of society to manifest itself and cease to be either passive or invisible. More precisely, they are expected to play a dominant role in redirecting the destiny of our people Come to think of it, all these moral gobbledygook makes a lot of nonsense. Morality is thought to be a ‘ broad spectrum anti-biotic’ against all societal ills.

How can one stand up for moral righteousness in a manner that will not require a solid and firm commitment to uphold it whenever it is challenged? Had it not been clear enough that to stand neutral – where moral issues are presented – is synonymous with taking no real stand. Clearly, the moral forces movement, to make sense cannot be neither here nor there. If it were to be a movement, it will have to crash all barriers that are placed in its path.

CJ Puno, through his spokesperson, may well make his worldview crystal clear to all to understand and be able to actively support or participate in its state of affairs. Here we find a Chief Justice who wants – not to be a member of the council – but to take, instead, a back seat role as the catalyst for this emerging moral bloc. How can that be?

The chief justice cannot expect to have the good leaders he envisions to constitute the council if he himself refuses to be a member of it. If he cannot take an active role, what kind of catalystic role does he have in mind then? How indeed can one expect well-meaning individuals to get them actively involved in a movement against corruption if Puno just plays the role of inducer if not instigator with no responsibility whatsoever? Can he really operate from within and without with an invisible identity? From where I sit, the whole posturing is nothing but pure rhetorics.

We first heard of this before and we are hearing it again being echoed. It might come to pass that again, CJ Puno will tell us that his own advisory council (his grandchildren) does not approve of his direct involvement in any cause as noble as the moral forces movement. That is the flimsiest alibi of an individual indicatively resigned to wishful thinking or fits of fantasy.

Perhaps, CJ Puno himself lacks that solid moral conviction to pursue a program against corruption and its resulting societal ills precisely because he realizes that as the incumbent Chief Justice, he shall not be portrayed as entertaining the thought to become the next president. And yet, he wants that a seminal work be done to address the social malaise that has plagued the bureaucracy to near moral decadence. In short, he wants probably to play accidental hero.

We simply remember how Ping Lacson vowed to give way to CJ Puno should he run as a presidential aspirant. And some quarters have even thought that he might make a good president because of his rather great reputation as having insulated himself from politics, true or not. All told, it seems that Puno’s felt presence is intended merely to test the waters – and he reserves the right to throw his hat (or not) in the political ring.

The notion of change that would include approaches to address corruption or poverty goes beyond morality issues. Anyone who advocates a kind of moral revolution as the yardstick for governance is bound to prescribe a wrong formula for all other kinds of societal concerns. For what is moral to one may not be moral to another. What we need is a no-nonsense approach and change that can come about simply because the new leader got the political will to implement whatever social program he had in mind. That requires a lot of visibility altogether.

UP Diliman, Quezon City Email: nielsky_2003@yahoo.com