PRESIDENT Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s inaugural address, dominantly in Filipino, has been lauded for speaking at gut level, thus touching base immediately with the millions of citizens who catapulted him to the highest office of the land.

But when he said, “Wala nang wang-wang,” “Wala nang tong,” and “Kayo ang boss ko,” I gave him a standing ovation. Because there and then, I heard his commitment to a high degree of accountability, a disappearing concept and practice in most government offices.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

Thread those statements with P.Noy’s vow to lead by example, the creation of the Truth Commission and the marching order to the newly minted justice secretary, and I felt this nation’s gasp for fresh air.

And now P.Noy is delving into the real financial situation of the nation, stripped of the creative accounting that spilled into nine years of Sonas.

In his “Good Governance, Accountability and the Public Servant,” Allan Rosenbaum stresses: “There is no issue more central to good governance than accountability of those in government to their citizenry.” Why? Two reasons.

First, because no matter how large or influential any individual, private corporation or association may become, at the end of the day all must abide by the rules established and enforced by the government.

Second, because government is still the only institution in any society with the legitimate right to take away any citizen’s property, liberty and even life.

So much for rights; now the responsibilities. To preserve the society’s well-being, government and the people managing it should be held highly accountable for their actions AND for their failure to act.

Many government functionaries of the past often, upon coming back from observation tours in the US, frothed in the mouth about good learnings and immediately sought to copy these here. Yet, they didn’t copy well. The streetsmart have this word, “imit” (from imitation), for products with branded names but poor craftsmanship.

Take, for instance, the governmental environment that ensures a high degree of accountability to the citizenry. Rosenblaum says in the US, the civil servant is viewed primarily as one who simply happens to work for the government.

Moreover, the civil servant is viewed as a public servant.

Because of this view, all government employees are and must always be accountable to the citizenry. This view is part of the education in American graduate schools of public administration, and in high schools and colleges.

Imagine what a difference that makes to governance. Hear how it strongly resonates with P.Noy’s “Kayo ang boss ko.”

The same governmental environment in the US has encouraged providing citizens with a system of seeking effective redress for their grievances against the government. In answer to the European’s “ombudsperson,” and the American’s “inspector general” office, the Philippines has its own “ombudsman.”

Again, the copying is faulty. How else explain the speedy Houdini-like escape of past president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband from the ombudsman’s clutches for the $329-million NBN-ZTE project?

Kay “imit” man.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)