Wednesday August 15, 2018

Tibaldo: What it takes to be a public servant

Consumers atbp.

WHEN I applied to work for a public office more than three decades ago, I saw to it that I had the qualifications and basic requirements needed for the job. The idea of working with the government service was not foreign to me at that time because my father who is now with his creator spent years working under the Baguio Health Department as a laborer tasked to combat the spread of Malaria in the 60s and in-charge of the maintenance of the Baguio Cemetery in the 70s. The rule still stands today that applicants for public office must be citizens of the Republic of the Philippines and of legal age which the Civil Service Commission requires to be at least 18 years at the time of application. The succeeding three requirements according to CSC are quite ministerial that one must not have been found guilty of crime involving moral turpitude or of infamous, disgraceful or immoral conduct, dishonesty, drunkenness or addiction to drugs. One must not have been previously found guilty of offenses relative to, or in connection with the conduct of a civil service examination and lastly, one must not been dismissed from the service for cause.

The present set up of practically all components or units of government service adheres to the respective mandate of each office guided by the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides the Accountability of Public Officers which states that “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism justice, and lead modest lives.”

The 1987 Constitution also provides Elements of Public Office stating that such office must be created by law or ordinance authorized by law, must possess sovereign functions of government to be exercised for public interests, functions must be defined expressly or impliedly by law and exercised by an officer directly under control of law. To better understand what makes a public official and why he or she is in such position, I’d like to share the oath of office that we usually recite every Monday in my work place. We raise our hands in the act of oath taking reciting “Ako ay isang lingkod bayan. Katungkulan ko ang maglingkod ng buong katapatan at kahusayan at makatulong sa katatagan at kaunlaran ng aking bayan. Sisikapin kong patuloy na maragdagan ang aking kaalaman. Magiging bahagi ako ng kaayusan at kapayapaan sa pamahalaan. Susunod at tutulong ako sa pagpapatupad ng mga umiiral na batas at alituntunin nang walang kinikilingan. Isaalang-alang ko ang interes ng nakakarami bago ang pansarili kong kapakanan.

Isusulong ko ang mga programang mag-aangat sa antas ng kabuhayan ng mamamayan. Aktibo akong makikibahagi sa mga dakilang layunin sa lipunan. Hindi ako magiging bahagi, at isisiwalat ko ang anumang katiwaliang maka-aabot sa

aking kaalaman. Gagawin kong kapaki-pakinabang ang bawat sandali. Sa lahat ng panahon, sisikapin kong makatugon sa mga hamon sa lingkod bayan. Ang lahat ng ito para sa ating Dakilang Lumikha, at sa ating bayan. Kasihan nawa ako ng Maykapal.”

Public officers in the Philippines are classified according to branches in government such as the executive, legislative and judicial officers, discretionary or ministerial officers, civil or military and the national, provincial or municipal officials.

According to Section 2 of the Constitution, the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officer and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

In her journal entitled “Reforms in the Civil Service the Philippine Experience”, Corazon Alma G. de Leon, Former-Chair of the Civil Service Commission explains that the Philippine civil service is structured into two major categories, namely, the career service and the non-career service. The career service is that part of the civil service founded on merit and fitness. Its features are competitive examination, opportunity for advancement, and security of tenure. In terms of positions covered, the career service encompasses, among others, those positions, where appointments require prior qualification in an appropriate examination; closed career positions which are scientific, or highly-technical in nature; and positions in the so-called Career Executive Service; career officers appointed by the President of the Republic.

De Leon adds that commissioned officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are also included, but they shall maintain a separate merit system. The positions in the career service are further classified into three levels: 1. first level-- clerical, trades, crafts and custodial service positions, which involve non-professional or sub-professional work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity requiring less than four years of collegiate studies; 2. second level-- professional, technical and scientific positions involving professional, technical or scientific work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity requiring at least four years of college work up to Division Chief level; and 3. third level-- positions in the Career Executive Service. The non-career service, in contra-distinction to the career service, pertains to the part of the civil service characterized by entrance not based on the usual tests of merit and fitness, and tenure is otherwise limited. It covers elective officials; officials holding their positions at the pleasure of the President; chairmen and members of commissions and boards with fixed term of office and their personal and confidential staff; contractual personnel; and emergency and seasonal personnel.

As I prepare to bow out from the service in the next three years with the grace of the Almighty as I turn 60, I will still be applying what I have learned as a public servant especially in the areas of disaster preparedness, marketing and promotion, public relations and others that can keep me from being idle as soon-to-be senior citizen by 2021.