As a nation, we owe gratitude to unsung heroes who sacrificed much to protect society. They saved us from environmental hazards such as toxins dumped in our rivers and seas, faulty consumer products, and excessive or misallocated government spending. Unfortunately, most of those who blow the whistle on organizational transgressions are never thanked for their efforts and the risks they took in the expose. Paradoxically, the only ones who are ever punished when serious instances of misdemeanor or misbehavior are uncovered are the ones who make the exposes. Even laws cannot guarantee that they will be liked or appreciated. In the end, the author says that the most insensitive remark he can say to a whistleblower is to quit whining and get on with life. The book by Ithaca serves a valuable purpose in the battle against unfair treatment of whistleblowers.
If whistleblowers are mostly severely mistreated, why do they do it? Ithaca presents five stories that they use to explain their actions: 1) an imagination for the consequences—“I couldn’t ignore the consequences of what would happen if…”; 2) a sense of historical moment—“I just happened to be the one who saw what was going on so I had to be the one to act”; 3) identification with the victim—“I knew how I would feel if this were happening to me”; 4) not very good at doubling—I couldn’t go on acting one way at work and another way at home”; and 5) a sense of shame—“I was so ashamed for my company and the people I work with.” These five stories are consistent with deontological justifications of obligation and duty, and Ithaca makes a clear point that their actions appear to be moral in an objective sense.
Recently, Dr. Andresito Millamena, chairman of the Millennium Tree Development Plan and corporation member of Central Philippine University just made an expose on the erection of the charcoal maker within the campus near the houses of the Cuartero cemetery. For more than a year, the CPU Board of Trustees and corporation members had not acted upon the matter even if they knew about it (for the chairman was furnished with a copy of the complaint). So it took more than a year to reap the pollution of the facility which includes the destruction of the ozone layer. Meanwhile, Dr. Millamena filed a complaint to the president of the institution which took six months for a formal reply. Not convinced of it, he escalated the complaint to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources which made a resolution after three weeks. The DENR made a verdict that the erection of the charcoal maker is a violation of the Clean Air Act of 1999 or RA 8749 and a nuisance; therefore, it should be demolished within four days. The university had no choice but comply.
The result of Dr. Millamena’s whistle blowing seems unappreciated at the moment. Why did he meet the antagonism of some die-hard fans of the institution’s administration? These fans have no moral authority and due to lack of justification, they merely contend “don’t be self-righteous,” to which I reply, “Repent of hypocrisy and sheer wickedness. Be conscious of your age and mine and reflect of your readiness to face the grave in your sunset years.”
Paradoxically, Dr. Millamena got the ire of some people for the boon of the community. During the meeting of the CPU corporation last April 12, what amazed was everybody’s silence about the issue even if the implications of such were clear. As if nothing happened.
We are reminded of Psalms 39: “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.’ So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.” Ephesians 5:11 also admonishes: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”