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When a person is caught, how do you know s/he is truly sorry?

Sorry = Change Behavior small

With this post, I will be completing  my self-imposed goal to share my thoughts about the BIG 3 scandals that preoccupied our nation- the pork barrel scam, sex video scandals and Mark Solis plagiarism. I’m done with the first two, so this post is about the plagiarism that brought shame to University of the Philippines as an institution, and Filipinos in general.

Read: When your head is on the line, will you do what is right?


Are we a nation of cheats? There are cheaters in every corner of this planet and certainly corruption is not exclusive to this part of the world. However, it should not give any of us the license to go ahead and cheat our way to success, stardom or even out of poverty. In my opinion, poverty is not an exemption to observe decency and disregard the law. And certainly, despite the public outrage against the misused and stolen tax payers money, we should still pay taxes to the government. By becoming a thief ourselves, we are no better than those who steal by the billions.

This post is not meant to pass judgement  since I am not in the position to do that, I also hope that a redemptive attitude be extended to the plagiarizer. This post is meant to add value to people who are hurt directly or indirectly by someone’s behavior and those that administer discipline by sharing indicators of a truly sorry or repentant person. The content of this article are the lessons I learned both as a recipient and administrator of discipline (at different points in my life).

There are consequences to every action

An action merits counter reaction. This principle is meant to caution us from doing something stupid because of the consequences ahead. If the normal course of this law is altered because of misplaced ‘kawawa naman attitude” or railroaded justice, the deterring force becomes useless.

Discipline is not optional.

Discipline came from the latin word “discipulos”, the same root word where the word disciple came from. The purpose of discipline is to restore the person to the desired behavior. Progressive discipline is applied depending on the gravity of the act.

Sorry is not necessarily repentance.

People who are caught may be sorry but not repentant. And in most cases, since the act is premeditated, the scape route is also carefully planned. On the other hand, repentance mean complete turn-around (180 degrees turn) or complete changed behavior. A truly sorry person is repentant and repentance include retribution or payment to the damages caused by the bad behavior.

Here are some actions that may indicate a repentant attitude, a truly sorry behaviour:

  • Comes forward and admits to the wrong behavior even though nobody knows about it (in short will not wait to get caught)- coming forward though, does not mean you go to the media and announced that you killed someone. But going to the right person of authority, i.e. kids to parents, spouse to spouse, subordinate to boss/hr
  • When caught, a truly sorry person don’t blame other people, situations and look for more excuses.
  • Acts like a man- will face the issue head-on and will not allow a “padrino” to apologize or speak on his/her behalf
  • Submits to authority and the law
  • Willing to lose it all- for the time being, the person will lose face, lose trust of people, lose job, lose resources and opportunities
  • Face the consequences of his/her action
  • Pays retribution- if the act involves loss or damage to property, loss of money, stealing someone else money, then the damaged property should be replaced or restored to its original condition or the money involved should be returned plus “interests”.

Based on experience, a caught person will have a longer time recovering from trust issues than those who came forward and faced the music. But those who are caught can still be restored to the desired behavior, though through a much more painful process.

Likewise, those who come forward to admit and correct a wrong behavior also goes down and lose all. But this is only temporary and bouncing back is easier compared to those who are caught.

Read Integrity, should it matter?

I  mentioned earlier that I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Before having the difficult job of administering employee discipline I was also on the receiving end of discipline. Here’s a short story of mine (I committed several follies too, when I’m younger, but I’ll reserve that for future use)

Once upon a time, as newly hired employee, enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity, I took it upon myself to wipe and clean a colored TV inside a training room under my care. Though it is supposedly the job of a janitor.  In the process, the colored tv fell from its stand.

I have a choice to keep quiet, bec. CCTV is not widely available then and no one saw the incident. And the janitorial agency are likely to be blamed.  But I decided to come forward and reported it to the head of operations. The TV was assessed and declared beyond repair.  As a consequence, I paid for the brand new replacement, in 24 gives (12 months). The consideration I got was less 20% from the purchase price. But I cannot bring home the broken tv set. I was on probationary employment then, but on the 2nd year of my employment, I was recommended for Senior Human Resource Manager position.

Taking the route of honesty is indeed painful, but unlike being caught, the acts of integrity signifies that you indeed is truly sorry, and it has a reward in the end.



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