Morality has hit rock bottom in this administration as two high-ranking officials continue to hold on to their positions despite widespread calls for them to step down.

These officials should not take comfort from the protection given by Rodrigo Duterte. Instead, they should resign voluntarily and out of delicadeza, a valued Filipino trait that appears to be vanishing fast.

In Japan, the second-highest ranking prosecutor, believed to favored by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office, has tendered his resignation after he played mah-jong with journalists last month, defying social distancing guidelines introduced to battle the deadly coronavirus.

In Western countries, it is not rare for politicians and bureaucrats to quit their positions if they have brought so much embarrassment to their offices, from the slightest lapse to a controversial statement.

In the Philippines, not so long ago, officials quit their positions because they put so much value on honor and pride. It took a lot of courage for them to volunteer to leave their offices, rather than endure shame and ridicule just to stay in their positions.

In January 1987, Maj. Gen. Ramon Montano, who was then police chief in Metro Manila, did not think twice when he stepped down from his position after a violent farmers’ demonstration in Mendiola turned bloody and deadly. He was not even at the scene.

He claimed responsibility as the police commander. He did not seek protection from then President Corazon Aquino or his superior, Gen. Fidel Ramos. He shed no tears of joy even after he earned praises for his action as a true officer and a gentleman.

Montano survived and a year later, he was promoted to head of the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police (PC-INP), the forerunner of the present Philippine National Police (PNP).

It was also in 1987, a few months after the bloody Mendiola massacre, when Debold Sinas graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

It is the same military institution that has produced decent and respectable generals, like Montano. It seems Sinas has forgotten the valued tradition of courage, integrity and, honor. Sadly, he could have remembered only one virtue, loyalty, but to the president, not to the office and to God and country,

As commander of the police forces in Metro Manila, he was dedicated and committed to his job of enforcing curbs imposed by the government to prevent transmission of the highly contagious respiratory disease.

But early this month, he violated the very same laws he was enforcing strictly when he held a lavish birthday party, a clear violation of social distancing rules.

He has apologized for the lapses but, at the same time, he tried to defend his action by saying the pictures posted on social media were manipulated.

He never offered to step down, even temporarily, when his superior ordered an investigation, ignoring calls from the public and lawmakers for him to take a leave. He instead sought comfort from the president, who also defended him.

As an officer and a gentleman, Sinas must do a Montano to save the police organization and the president from further embarrassment.

Like Montano a generation ago, Sinas could earn praises and respect if he went on leave and allowed an independent investigation to proceed unhampered.

In most cases, the national police immediately ordered the relief of a commander to allow an independent inquiry.

Sinas might have committed a lesser offense but the way he was treated by the political leadership and his superiors was unprecedented, and could set a dangerous precedent that could affect morale and professionalism in the national police.

It sends a wrong message to the public at a time when the application of law is questioned. There appears to be a double standard — the high and mighty are protected and the lowly and ordinary people are harshly treated. Some are killed even at the slightest provocation.

More than 160,000 people have been arrested, fined, and warned for flouting quarantine protocols in nearly three months, the highest number in the world, according to the United Nations Human Rights office.

Duterte has repeatedly said the law is the law. Yet, he was quick to absolve Sinas of his sins. This is eroding government’s credibility to enforce the law.

It says a lot about the rule of law, which has been unfairly applied since Duterte’s rise to power in 2016 as shown by the brutal and bloody war on drugs.

Duterte has been running the country based on his whims and his own brand of justice, ignoring laws and protecting his own friends and trusted subordinates.

Ordinary public servants get severely punished but his own appointees only get transferred and, more often than not, recycled and given juicier positions even after serious lapses and allegations of corruption.

Franciso Duque III is in a league of his own. He has remained in office despite allegations of conflicts of interest, corruption in the purchase of testing kits and flip-flopping statements that had led to confusion and chaos in the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is a pain listening to the health secretary explaining to lawmakers in the lower house the actual status of the infection trend in the country after telling senators a different version only a day earlier.

In a time of a pandemic, the government needs to speak with one clear voice, with a message that will be easy to digest and understand to avoid chaos and confusion.

Sadly, Duque has miserably failed and his own credibility as a medical professional has gone down to the pits. He is seen more as a politician out to please the president, even dipping his hands into foreign policy, and not as a technocrat who gives sound advice based on science.

Sinas and Duque do not deserve to stay one more day in their offices. They are giving the people a reason to distance themselves from a popular leader.

They have become a burden, a heavy load for the president to carry. They must go and spare the president of further embarrassment. They must quit on their own.