Two Honest Men

One of the most difficult jobs in this country is joining government . That’s if you are honest. The most difficult part is how to remain as one with so many thieves lurking around. Lobbyists, plain crooks and corrupt politicians whose appetite for money is insatiable . Raiders of public funds. They are everywhere.

In many government agencies, including congress and in the upper house. They are always there present whoever is in power. They are chameleons.

Jose ‘Ping’ De Jesus is one of a kind. He’s not only honest but a brilliant and hardworking public servant. He is now in his senior years but can be comfortable in his thoughts that the money he spent for the food he placed on the table and shared with his family are clean money.

I remember a story told to me by his younger brother Tony sometime ago, in the early nineties. One time his Coyang Ping visited him in the United States.

Tony then was small time businessman engaged in buy and sell of houses in America and Ping was the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The two went to a mall to grab a snack and passed through a clothing store. On the display rack, Ping took notice of a jacket which suited his taste. He pointed it to his younger brother and said,Tony kasanting nitang jacket, kabage ku ata kanita.( Tony that jacket is beautiful, I believe it will fit pretty with me).Why don’t you buy it, replied Tony.

‘Mal ya, hundred dollars ya ata, paburen mune,( Forget it, it is cost a hundred dollars maybe)the older brother said. Tony just kept silent and he sensed that his Coya really like the jacket but that the latter can’t really afford it. So when it was time for Ping to get back to the Philippines and to his job in the DPWH, he was surprised to get a paper bag containing the jacket. Both hugged. Ping was so profuse in thanking his younger brother and happiness can be traced from his smile, said Tony.

Ping De Jesus has long been in government. But before that he was in the private sector and worked briefly with Caltex Philippines. He was one of the pioneers of the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City. He was undersecretary of Department of Education and later relieved the late Fulgencio Factoran Jr. as Malacanang’s cabinet secretary when the former was named secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In 1991 he was the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways and was instrumental in mitigating the damages brought about by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. He left government for a while and was president and Chief Executive Officer in succession of top companies like Philipine Long Distance Company, Meralco, Manila North Tollways Corporation and recently came out of retirement and was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as chairman of Clark Development Corporation.

If Diogenes only visited Philippines and was looking for two honest men he could have found them in Pampanga and Bulacan area. The other one was the late Blas F. Ople who served many years as Department of Labor Secretary, assemblyman, Senator, Senate President and Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. When he died his modest house in Quezon City was discovered to have been mortgaged and only through the help of then President Joseph Estrada that all arrears were paid.

Editor’s Note: Formerly newspaperman of Daily Inquirer and other major dailies; former TV and radio Broadcaster.

Former Director of various corporations like Clark Development Co.; and a former City of Angeles Councillor. Now a regular columnist of Sun Star Pampanga