The Good Lord only gave Ten Commandments for people to live in unity and harmony, for a country to have justice and peace, for the world to enjoy genuine progress and integral development. And no less that two of the Ten Commandments are about honesty and probity: “You shall not steal…You shall not covet what belongs to others.” (Exodus 20:14, 17). Even Christ Himself had to insist in the observance of this fundamental Commandment of justice and peace—as plainly and clearly as possible: “Do not steal.” (Matthew 19:20).
The more immediate and primary reasons for the strong and blanket prohibition to steal, are the following: Everyone is bound to earn a living by honest work and hard sweat, to use and dispose what is rightfully his or hers. No one therefore may lay hands on what is not justly his or hers, may lay claim on whatever really belongs to others. This norm is very basic and universally binding because it is the dictate of elementary reason that is thus obligatory for all to dutifully keep and observe—irrespective of race, color and creed—under penalty of social disturbance, dissent and anger.
Specifically in this country, there are a hundred and one kinds of stealing—cheating and thievery, swindling and burglary, robbery and banditry, and many other personal, collective and institutional forms of gross and flagrant violations of the above cited key Commandments of justice and harmony. In fact, it can be even said that stealing has already become a way of life in land that the country has earned the shamefully distinct title of the “Most Corrupt” nation in Asia at least. And stealing simply goes on in many ways and various forms.
Kotong and patong. Ukol and bukol. Hakot and kurakot. Lagay and bigay. Para kay Sir and para kay Ma’m. Para sa akin and para sa kanya. Paano naman ako and paano naman sila? For the boss and for the boys. All these forms of stealing fall under the general phrase of “graft and corrupt practices in government”. Translation: A bunch of big and infamous well placed thieves. A group of public and official daytime bandits. A team of very powerful and influential crooks—all of whom are over and above the laws of the land.
If this country is where, how and what it is during these times, this is because of relentless institutional stealing, structural thievery, endemic robbery. Hence: Millions of Filipinos suffer from hunger and want, are denied even basic welfare services, are wallowing in misery and desperation, with little money in their pockets and with even less necessities at their disposal—while queuing for rice and begging for groceries!
It is good to remind the professional thieves in the country—specially those enjoying their sumptuous self-service while happily holding on to their affluent offices of public service: Enjoy, eat and drink and be happy now! Do have the most costly and enviable coffin for your eventual burial! Sorry, what happens next is no longer yours to decide.
16 May 2008