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Ancient Honesty
and Supremacy of the Law

AD 674 — Kalang, or Dj-Apo, (current day Cotabato, Mindanao, the Philippines)


Our country has had an enviable reputation for honesty. It has been our custom not to disturb even things dropped in the road, leaving these for their owner’s return, that he whose they rightfully are may recover them however long his delay.

A ruler from faraway, an Arab, doubted our fame and thought to test it by sending a bag of gold to be left in the road as a trap.

For three years it remained in the road. For three years those of our people who saw it passed around it. It was left for you, the expectant future ruler, to be careless.

You thought that your rank privileged you to not turn out, so you stepped over the purse. Yet you should have set the example. You ought to have been the most careful of all.

Because your rank is greater your fault is graver. Death was the penalty at first in my mind but my ministers have dissuaded me. Then, because your fault was in your feet, I would have had them cut off. But even that my ministers advise is too severe a penalty.

I sentence you to have the toes of both feet cut off, to remind you to set a better example, as a warning to others, and to prove that in our land, no one is so high in rank as to be above the law.



Source: Gems of Philippine Oratory: Selections Representing Fourteen Centuries of Philippine Thought, Carefully Compiled From Credible Sources in Substitution for the Pre-Spanish Writing Destroyed by Missionary Zeal, to Supplement the Later Literature Stunted by Intolerant Religious and Political Censorship, and as Specimens of the Untrammeled Present-Day Utterances, ed. Austin Craig, (Manila: Fajardo Press) 1924, p. 9.


Also: Chinese dynastic annals in Notes on the Malay Archipelago and Malacca, by Willem Pieter Groeneveldt, (Batavia: W. Bruining Co., 1876).