If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it. — Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor

If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. — Alan Simpson

Character is higher than intellect.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make faithfulness and truth thy masters… be not ashamed to mend thy faults. — Confucius

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.— Proverbs 16:8

What is true success, is it only and ultimately measured by outward “accomplishments” like power, fame, money, awards or even high grades conferred by one’s peers or superiors? What about character, honor, moral values, idealism and fealty to the truth?

My sincere apologies to my younger sister and to my many friends who are La Sallians (I used to think they were called La Sallites?), but I beg to disagree with your former De La Salle University (DLSU) president Brother Rolando Dizon, FSC, for recently giving Assumption College, Georgetown University and University of the Philippines alumnae President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a grade of B or 85 for her performance as head of state. This report came out in no less than the front page of the Philippine STAR. The respected Bro. Dizon further asserted that GMA will eventually be vindicated from the negative impressions by her critics.

Among the positive achievements of the Arroyo administration, which Bro. Dizon cited, are the enactment of the expanded value added tax (EVAT), infrastructure initiatives, housing, information technology, and employment generation.

As an Atenean (who coincidentally was a former economics student of GMA herself), I wish to be more comprehensive, critical and objective in trying to assess the complex Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presidency.

I have consistently been critical of every incumbent Philippine president — whether Ramos or Erap or GMA — because my opinion is that we who write in the mass media shouldn’t just be cheerleaders or public relations people of those who are in power. It is my opinion that we have to be critical of those who are in power, for the sake of progress and true democracy. If Gordon, Noynoy, Villar, Gibo or Brother Eddie wins as president in the May 10 election, I shall also be consistently critical in my columns in the sincere hope of he shall become a great leader.

For economic reforms and management, the hardworking President GMA deserves a grade of 90 or A, for she has zealously pushed the vigorous development of the tourism industry, the revival of the all-important and once moribund mining industry, the huge dollar-earning business process outsourcing (BPO) and call center industries, massive infrastructures developments, she pushed for the strengthening of English language instruction in Philippine schools nationwide, her government has presided over respectable high economic growth and vastly improved international credit ratings for the Philippine economy, and many other progressive initiatives. Her political cunning, the steely determination to remain in power has also somehow become an anchor of stability for the Philippine economy.

Among her glaring failures in the socio-economic front are poverty alleviation, and her sabotaging the family planning programs of ex-Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada.

My late educator mother used to tell me as a kid that to be truly good as a student, one must not only have good academic grades, but should also balance that with good athletics or sports, and the most important is a good moral conduct grade. She told me that a person cannot be described as truly successful without being morally upright or honest. This is the same with the teachings of the Jesuits and my other educators at the Ateneo de Manila University.

In the area of moral conduct, which includes integrity, moral values and serving as a role model to the youth and the citizenry, I have to give President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a failing grade of 74 or a big fat F.

What has GMA decisively done to sincerely address the age-old issue of pervasive corruption in Philippine society, not only among political bigwigs, not only among police and military generals, but also in the private sector with the proliferation of so much financial scams, smuggling and other crimes?

Have any political VIPs among GMA’s allies been truly convicted? In fact, how come under her administration, many of the biggest supposed criminals like the Ampatuans, the many murderers, plunderers and others have even been freed or given less-than-harsh punishments?

Whatever happened to such cases as the Hello Garci scandal, the fertilizer scam and so many more? What about her track record for telling the truth, upholding the truth and defending the lofty ideals of a genuine democracy?

Bro. Rolando Dizon, my question to you and to our outgoing President GMA is this — does the end justifies the means?

In the annals of history and before God’s final judgment — is it alright for any leader of a nation to show kids, students and other people now and for future generations that it is okay to shamelessly violate or cynically flout the laws of God and men for the sake of political expediency and so-called “success”?

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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