The Four-Way Test: A simple moral code [for Joc-Joc]

November 4, 2008

If and when former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, suspected architect of the P728-million fertilizer scam in the 2004 presidential election, finally appears before a Senate investigating committee, we urge him to keep in mind the Four-Way Test, the code of ethics adopted by the Rotary Club in 1943. Bolante, like President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband, Mike Arroyo, is a member of the Rotary Club.

The Four-Way Test states: “Of the things we think, say or do … (1) Is it the Truth? (2) Is it Fair to all concerned? (3) Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? (4) Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?”

The test was written by Chicago Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 and adopted by Rotary International 11 years later. He wrote the test primarily for his bankrupt Club Aluminium Co. in 1932. He gave up his job in another company to join 250 other employees aboard the so-called “sinking ship.” Taylor said: “To win our way out of this situation I reasoned we must be morally and ethically strong. I knew that in right there was might. I felt that if we could get our employees to think right they would do right. We needed some sort of ethical yardstick that everybody in the company could memorize and apply to what we thought and did in our relations to others.” And so he wrote the 24-word test.

When a company advertisement was referred to Taylor declaring their aluminum product “the greatest cooking ware in the world,” he said, “We can’t prove that.” The ad was rewritten to simply state the facts.

Bolante will soon be facing a Senate investigating committee, unless the administration can devise other delaying tactics or come up with a strategy that would permanently prevent him from testifying. He being a member of the Rotary Club, we expect him to apply the Four-Way Test to his testimony.

Is it the Truth? What is the truth about the P728-million fertilizer scam? Is it true that the President authorized the release of P728 million shortly before the May 2004 election to “favored” congressmen, governors and mayors to buy farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides? Is it true that 53 governors were allotted P5 million each, 105 congressmen P3-P5 million each, and 23 city and town mayors P2-P5 million each? Bolante should tell the truth, because, as the saying goes, the truth will set him free.

Is it Fair to all concerned? The disclosure of the truth about the P728-million fertilizer scam will be fair to all concerned, and most especially to the people, the taxpayers, whose money was used to carry out the project. They have the right to know whether their tax money was really used to benefit the agricultural sector or a certain candidate in the 2004 presidential election. The disclosure of the truth will be fair to Bolante himself because finally, he will be able to unburden himself of some secrets, if secrets they really are, that are causing him so much mental and psychological torment. It will be fair to the Senate, which can finally write finis to this case which is actually still hanging because it has not heard his testimony.

Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? The truth may not always be pleasant, sometimes it may hurt some people, but ultimately it will promote goodwill and better friendships. People in government have to make truthfulness and trust the basis of their relationship with the people. Goodwill and better friendship can never be built based on dishonesty and falsehood.

Will it be Beneficial to all concerned? Yes, it will be beneficial because we should now be able to put a closure to a case that has festered like a sore these past four years. It will not be beneficial to those who committed irregularities and whose crimes will be exposed in the Senate inquiry, but as Taylor said, what is important is that everybody should be morally and ethically strong. Everyone has to disclose the truth, even if he or she will be hurt. Everyone should be responsible for his or her decisions and actions. The Senate inquiry would be beneficial to the nation because it could result in legislation that prevents the use of public funds to promote the candidacy of a candidate for any elective post.

The Four-Way Test is a simple, clear and straightforward ethical and moral code. We hope it will be applied in the prospective resumption of the Senate inquiry into the P728-million fertilizer scam.



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