Accountable

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I’M NOT A LAWYER, but I recently made it my business to read the pertinent portions of two laws on public officers. They’re not hard to grasp. In view of the irresponsibility and hubris displayed by Aguirre, Alvarez,  & Co., I felt it necessary to brush up on these statutes.

ELIGIBILITY

I was interested in only a few points. Eligibility, for one; Mocha Uson’s in particular.

The Civil Service Decree (CSCD) was informative. Its Section 5 states that entrance to the career service shall be “based on merit and fitness to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations, or based on highly technical qualifications.”  This covers all aspirants to the career service from the rank and file to executive positions up to the Undersecretary level (Sec. 5 [3]).

Uson did not hurdle the CS exam; she did not climb up the ladder to become Assistant Secretary of the PCOO. Rather, she leapfrogged over scores of more qualified individuals via presidential fiat to get there. My question is, what “highly technical” experience of hers satisfied this provision? Her “serious journalist” claim is merely a pretension and her penchant for fakery, an insult to the profession. How then did she acquire civil service eligibility? And why is the Civil Service Commission not looking into this?

This is no mere technicality. The law ensures that public officers merit their compensation drawn from the treasury so that taxpayers get their money’s worth. It also serves to protect citizens from subpar officials. Uson fails on both counts and should immediately be checked. She is not the only one whose eligibility is in doubt. Many of Duterte’s “best and the brightest” are lamentably mediocre and are better relieved. Both the CSC and the Commission on Appointments are remiss here. They too must be checked.

CONDUCT

The other point I looked at was conduct. In the past year, this regime exposed us to the most atrocious behavior ever displayed by government officers in our history, even including the Marcos dictatorship. Duterte’s speeches cause trauma, filled as they are with verbal and psychological abuse. His lackeys want us to get used to it, saying this is his “way.” I will not and cannot adjust to a constant diet of excrement. His refusal to conform to general standards of morality is, in my view, a betrayal of our innate dignity and decency as Filipinos.

Besides declaring that “Public office is a public trust,” Section 15 of the CSCD states that “Public officers and employees shall serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, and shall remain accountable to the people.” This portion of the CSCD is fleshed out by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, a statute I feel every Filipino should know intimately. 

The Code of Conduct has seventeen sections, most of which cover technical aspects better understood by lawyers. However, Sections 2, 4, 11 and 12 are easily grasped by laypeople and should be learned.

Briefly, Section 2 establishes as state policies the accountability of public officers and the standards for their performance: they must discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty (to the country and its citizens), with patriotism and justice, among other things.

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Section 4 sets the normative behavior for public officials and employees, which includes: a commitment to public interest (above the personal), professionalism (the performance of their duties “with the highest degree of excellence”), justness and sincerity (loyalty to the people of the Philippines involving the protection of their rights according to the rule of law at all times, without discrimination), and political neutrality, among others.

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Section 11 sets forth the penalties for violations of the act, which may include the payment of a fine equal to six months’ salary, suspension, removal, and even imprisonment in the case of a higher offense. Private persons complicit in the offense are equally liable.

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Section 12 designates the Civil Service Commission as the Code’s primary enforcer. Significantly, the Ombudsman is authorized to protect whistleblowers from any acts of reprisal.

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We must scrutinize Duterte and his minions in the light of these provisions. Duterte’s bloody, authoritarian policies; Aguirre’s torrid witchhunts; Alvarez’s arrant ignorance of the law; Panelo, Abella, Andanar and Uson’s  brazen falsehoods; Cayetano, dela Rosa and Calida’s gross disloyalty to the people’s cause; and many others who have been guilty of the same… They have violated these statutes with impunity. The daily news reports provide us with fresh evidence of their recidivism. They are incompetent, dishonest, unprofessional, discriminatory, unjust, and miserably unqualified. They would subvert even the Constitution and dismantle its mechanisms installed for our protection. This is betrayal of the public trust in its basest form. They are accountable.

Therefore we must hold them to account. If the institutions authorized to censure them will not, then we must make that task our own. We must hold them to account. We must make a constant noise and demand proper service from those who style themselves the public’s servants. They must deliver good governance and if they do not, and if they fail in their sworn duty, and if their failure is due to vain motive, then we shall subject them to the penalties they deserve. We must hold them to account. 

We are individual defenders of righteousness; we shall one day stand before our Divine Judge and explain all we did and failed to do; we must act or blame ourselves for the bondage to come. Our troops in Marawi are defending our liberty with their lives. Let us honor their sacrifice by cherishing our freedom. When surrounded by traitors to our cause, let us #HoldThemAccountable.

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Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. – Hebrews 4:13

 

Composite featured photo: candycruzdatu.com

Original Photo credits:

Salvador Panelo/Mocha Uson – verafiles.org
Ernesto Abella – cnnphilippines.com
Jose Calida – gmanews.tv
Bato dela Rosa – inquirer.net
Rodrigo Duterte – huffpost.com

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