Thursday, October 8, 2009


Our Philippine government has already a dismal reputation as a social pariah. Every time you pick up a newspaper, you have to read another article blaming the key government officials of the end of the world for the Filipinos. They have been tag as the poster children of moral irresponsibility. They practice a bereft culture of letting their critical official functions be performed and fulfilled by others who serve them. They take things for granted and always like to do as little work as possible, by confining only to signing papers and conducting press conferences with television coverage.

They are making a terrible mistake. Whatever the legal rights and wrongs in their unbridled lust for wealth from their government position, it isn't worth it. For their own futures, these Cabinet members would be better off accepting that they were the primary factor of failed governance - that they need to take sole responsibility for that, and the battle they are engaged in the court of public opinion, holding the battle flag draped over their faces to save their rotten reputation merely postpones the inevitable moment of truth. The sooner they learn, along with many others riding their coattails, to accept their role in the economic crunch with grace and dignity, the sooner it is for the good of our Country.

Very similar to celebrities are the Cabinet government officials. They are rewarded far too much for having done too little (multum in parvo) that surely isn't more satisfying than what is expected by the people, and commensurate to the emoluments and fringe benefits concomitant to their hierarchical government position. Just because they are members of the Cabinet, therefore, close to the President (THE LAST DEJECTED EFFORT OFTEN BECOMES THE WINNING STROKE), they could now flaunt and transgress the “code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” with impunity. Our undying infatuation and envy of these elite government officials with such poor work ethics is leading this country in the wrong direction. Their utmost responsibility to serve the citizenry is hidden under a blanket of greed, laziness and irresponsibility-- a person caught in the grip of avarice. (MADAME PRESIDENT-- EVERYTHING IS IN YOUR HANDS TO REBUILD OUR NATION, THE PHILIPPINES.)

It is in the government where ethics should reign supreme. Good governance can be achieved only when there is moral responsibility and it requires transparency. Government officials are the lamplighters of transparency and there is a moral dimension to their work that cannot be overlooked: they need to discharge their duties with integrity, honesty, and industry without fear or favor and their only loyalty is to the people.

Ours is a country coping with an epidemic of irresponsibility and laziness in our government officials, and this epidemic has to be halted if our people have to participate more meaningfully and intelligently in checking misfeasance and malfeasance in government. The people are all shareholders in the government; our taxes run the government and it is the people’s right to know that these taxes are spent for the welfare of the citizenry. That duty becomes more sacrosanct at times of economic difficulties, when more and more of our fellow Filipinos are falling below the poverty line. Instead, our elite public officials are treated as Lords in a pedestal as they suffocate the people with all that crisis of suffering now in the tipping point which only they had created (THEY BOW AND VOW TO BIND THEMSELVES TOGETHER FOR LIFE AND DEATH).

Public officials hold the key to the establishment of the kind of government the people erected in our Constitution, a government where a public office is a public trust, a government that is ruled by the people and not a government that misrules the people.


Speech of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Reynato S. Puno before the GACPA Delivered
at Century Park Hotel, Manila, July 22, 2009.

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