In this part of the world, government officials seldom quit their posts when they are accused of impropriety in office. They valiantly fight off their critics, claiming they are being singled out and unfairly accused.
Resigning is not an immediate viable option—doing so would be tantamount to admitting they are guilty of whatever it is they are accused of.
This holds true whether the accusations are in fact true or not.
Appointees, for instance, often play the “I serve at the pleasure of the president” card. A subsequent announcement from the appointing power that the officials continue to enjoy their trust and confidence is all the assurance they need to hear.
They do not realize that their true master is not the president who picked them for the post but the people whom they pledged to serve and who pay their salaries.
Those in elective positions all the more so resist voluntarily stepping down, saying they enjoy the sacred mandate of the people who voted them into office.
Those who can only be removed by impeachment cling desperately to their chairs. They take advantage of the fact that impeachment is a purely political exercise; in defending themselves, they ascribe ill motives to their critics. They come close to costing the country time and energy and most importantly money to fund what they hope would be their vindication.
We’re seeing this now in the case of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who has gone on indefinite leave prior to the transmission of the impeachment complaint against her to the Senate, where she will likely face trial later this year.
Others take some time convincing. For example, the former chairman of the Commission on Elections, Andres Bautista, resigned only when it became apparent that an embarrassing Senate trial would ensue. Bautista has allegedly amassed unexplained wealth from election-related transactions.
In other countries, officials bow out at the first hint of accusations – in extreme cases, they take their own lives in shame. We are not suggesting that officials with tarnished reputations commit suicide, that would be absurd, but we do believe it is time we shed the idea that clinging desperately to their chairs will boost their claim to innocence.
In their self-serving insistence, these overstaying officials allow their organizations to suffer and demoralize the people.