BAGUIO

Tibaldo: Accountability of public officials

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I ENTERED government service in August of 1986 as Public Assistance Desk Officer of the National Media Production Center (NMPC) which later become the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) by 1987, the same year that members of a constitutional convention passed and approved the Philippine Constitution. Being new in government at that time, I memorized the first paragraph of the constitution’s section on Accountability of Public Officers which states that “A 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 and justice, and lead modest lives.

Public Officers as defined in the Act starts from the President, the Vice-President, members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commission including the Ombudsman down to the elected Barangay Council member. Accordingly, these public officers 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 officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

As a mandatory requirement since the time we took our oath as public servants, have been submitting under oath our declaration of assets, liabilities, and net worth and copies of our SALNs were furnished to appropriate agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman. Among those that I declared as part of my assets are my collection of books, cameras and old communication gadgets that are on display at my personal media museum with the artworks that include my own paintings.

The Civil Service Commission being the constitutionally mandated office to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness, and courtesy in the civil service, supervises the conduct of civil service examinations appoint and discipline its officials and employees in accordance with the law. Should there be complaints lodged against a government employee, the office of the Civil Service Commission judiciously hears and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought before it whether directly or on appeal, including contested appointments, and review decisions and action of its offices and of the agencies attached to it. As stated in the CSC home page, officials and employees who fail to comply with such decisions, orders, or rulings shall be liable for contempt of the Commission.

Though the heads of agencies, government-owned or controlled corporations, and local government units are responsible for personnel administration of their offices, the Civil Service Commission also provide assistance in accordance with the provision relating to civil service as embodied in the Constitution.

The CSC conducts a periodic audit and monitoring of personnel practices and performance of various departments or agencies concerned as well as those of public officers and employees.

In the performance of public services by government paid workers, the staff of the CSC welcomes and receives from the public any suggestions, observations, and complaints pertaining to the conduct of public officers and employees. In SEC. 19 of the Service Commission, it states under “Council of Personnel Officers,” there shall be a Council of Personnel Officers to be composed of chief personnel officers of the different executive departments and of agencies with the category of a department that the Chairman of the Commission shall select for membership.

Here’s one interesting provision to indigenous peoples or those referred to as among the country’s cultural communities. In line with the national policy to facilitate the integration of the members of cultural communities and accelerate the development of the areas occupied by them, the Commission shall give special civil service examinations to qualify them for appointment in the civil service. However, all appointments in the career service shall be made only according to merit and fitness, to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations. I actually heard a high ranking police official explain that non-completion of the required push-up counts and missing teeth can actually disqualify an entry-level police officer and priority is given to those who meet basic requirements.


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