Realization is most often, like remorse, comes last.  Not during that day of November 28, 2018!  Early that day, I realized, Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc is virtuously persistent. His favorite idiom is, and he fondly believes that: There is no hard stone not worn down with droplets of water constantly dripping – an idiom characteristic of persistence.   It is amazing to think that tiny droplets of water group themselves as a team to unitely persistently and tirelessly drip down the hardest of stones until holes wear them out, soften and brittle. Commissioner Pondoc related. The famous author Ovid,  thought the same way that dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.  A similar aphorism in English goes: “Little strokes fell great oaks.”   

I shared with him parallel ideas from the Scripture, which I shared also in the Welcome Remarks and Introduction of Keynote Speaker.  Commissioner Pondoc was keynote speaker. The Scripture is rich with parables on persistence. One, is the parable of the persistent widow and the judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.  For some time the corrupt judge refused the widow’s plea for justice against her adversary.  But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me.“  Another, is the parable about friends.  A friend at midnight approaching a friend to help another friend coming from a journey. Even though that friend asked for help by a friend to help another friend will not get up and help because of friendship, yet because of the friend’s shameless persistence, he will surely get up and give as much help is needed  to help his friend’s friend .

Commissioner Pondoc likened graft and corruption to a hard stone, and integrity to dripping droplets of water.  In him I find affirmation what I long so firmly believe that greed is the culprit of all graft and corruption. Greed knows no bounds.  Greed, as another author, Erich Fromm, put it, is a bottomless pit which exhaust the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.  To still another author, Eartha Kitt , “Greed is so destructive.  It destroys everything.”  To world-renowned Mahatma Gandhi: There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.  And I strongly agree with Commissioner Pondoc, keen in discerning that even with the droplets of water, comprising of our invocation, the singing of the National Anthem, the recitations of the Panunumpa Sa Watawat ng Pilipinas and the Panunumpa sa Katungkulan ng mga Kawani ng Gobyerno and the singing of the COA Hymn during weekly Flag Raising Ceremony, still integrity did not sink in deep down innermost  to many of us.  Thus the imperative of the COA Integrity Pledging.  It is hoped to add more droplets of water not only to team up with the usual droplets of water poured out every Flag Raising Ceremony, but to serve as constant reminder to observe integrity at all times and wear out that lingering stone of graft and corruption vastly deeply rooted .  With us COA Region X personnel pledging in to integrity, we are thus immensely accountable for our defiance beyond the bounds of integrity.  

The COA Region X Integrity Pledge was emphatic giving a caveat to the old ones in the government audit service that it is far better tying a millstone on their neck and get drowned deep down the ocean than if they caused any of the little ones – the newbies, get involved in corruption – accept bribe money, not punctual in reporting to work, being dishonest or other forms of corruption.  It was reminded that the late President Manuel L. Quezon can be lenient with other government officials involved in graft and corruption but not with government auditors sworn in to safeguard government funds and properties.  

Truth be told, the Integrity Management Program (IMP) of COA is a groundbreaking initiative fervently hoped that integrity, as a principle or value, will not remain simply as an ideal or byword oft-spoken. Most importantly, that     throughout the IMP process, integrity will become the ethos for each and every one of us in COA and, eventually, become a culture deeply embedded in this institution where it is most ideally expected and needed for the fulfillment of its constitutional duty to serve the public. 

Aligned to this Commission’s Integrity Management Program, let our resounding battle-cry be that: I’MPro Integrity in COA.  In unison, let us all declare: We are all pro integrity in COA.