THE WOUNDED PUBLIC SERVANT
Corazon Juliano Soliman15 May 2014
Last April 27th, Sunday, the homily of Fr. Francis really struck me. He spoke about our hesitance to talk about our wounds and encouraged us to do so.... as Jesus did when he showed and invited the apostles to touch his wounds... It was not easy to listen as he shared and he spoke about his dilemma when he wrote a book about the son of a priest, that it takes courage and humility to talk about our wounds even with our family members and closest friends.
It has taken me almost two week to write this reflection piece because I was afraid that it may be misinterpreted or even derided and twisted to allude meanings that are far from my own thoughts. I have been nudged every day since that homily to write, by my conscience.
As public servants we live in a fish bowl. We cannot separate most of our public life from our private life, thus our family and friends are always affected by public perception - negative or positive feedback.
I have known Butch Abad since the 1970's. Together with his wife Dina we were part of the movement for democracy. He was jailed together with Dina and their baby Julia in the late 70s because of their involvement in the anti-dictatorship movement. After temporary release he took up law while he continued to contribute to the effort of conscientization and mobilization of the Citizens for Democracy.
Butch worked with Atty. Hector Soliman, my husband, to initiate and organize an alternative law practice - as mentored by Sen. Pepe Diokno - wherein people's organizations were assisted by lawyers who provided legal support during their struggle for their right to development. This blossomed and grew into the Alternative Law Groups we know today.
Butch entered the legislative arena as congressman and he initiated laws: supported legislation that institutionalized reforms such the agrarian reform law, and the people's participation bills. Those actions were consistent with the values and the principles we stood for. Again, as evidence of his commitment to social justice and truth, whenever faced with a cross road of actions that could compromise his principles and values, Butch always took the difficult path by following his conscience - he resigned as Secretary of Agrarian Reform during Pres. Cory 's administration - a very difficult decision because he loved Pres. Cory; he chose to leave the Arroyo administration when again truth was compromised and suffered the consequences of this action such as the marginalizing of their home province Batanes... Butch has stood for his principles by taking the difficult path instead of the easy path of compromising principles.
When he took up the challenge of being DBM secretary to manage the coffers of the government, Butch opened up the systems, information and the processes so that our citizens could track budgets and expenditures, participate in the budget process and ensure that the funds are spent in a judicious and responsive manner.
And yet today he is maligned as the person who taught Napoles the tricks about stealing via NGOs... I am sure it hurts him, the wounds cut deep and wide... and yet he will not speak about his wounds. He continues to do his work, silently bearing the pain even as he tries to show the public that he is a person of integrity and principle.
Most of us in public service carry the same wounds. Maybe not as big and deep as those suffered by Butch, but we all feel that there are many times that we are sacrificial lambs on the altar of political ambitions of those who may not necessarily be acting on behalf the common and highest good.
This reflection piece is for all of us who are wounded public servants. It is good to talk about our wounds and let our loved ones, family and friends touch them. Their loving touch provides the gentle healing we need to carry on our mahusay, matapat and magiliw na paglilingkod sa sambayanan. -- END