IF MAYOR Vicente Y. Emano is indeed, the "Father" of our city, as he refers to himself, then we have the answer to the traffic mess and the anarchy of slums. A father is a role model. He sets the tone or conduct for his household. It is he who imposes discipline.

If the father makes a big thing out of scolding or suspending household staff for bad behavior or lateness, but behaves badly himself and defies his duties, he sets a bad example.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The behavior of a city's top official and his style of governance is the prime conditioner of conduct in its bureaucracy. If the mayor is careless about his habits (e.g. smoking in public places) or his duty (e.g. reporting to the people through the City Council formally) the bureaucrats become careless about theirs.

If the mayor disrespects regulations and gets away with it, the bureaucrats do the same, thinking they'll get away as well.

If the mayor simply pooh-poohs or ignores charges of corruption and leaves issues hanging, so will subordinates when dealing with complaints. The air is soon fouled by unanswered and unresolved charges, and the media goes to town playing it up.

Deviant behavior fosters deviant conduct not only in offices but in the constituency. No amount of public harangue or scolding can correct the bad attitudes and practices it engenders among subordinates or the bureaucracy. Then people in the community develop a bad attitude about the bureaucracy's sense of duty and responsibility. And civic discipline and lawfulness are generally undermined.

Soon a symmetrical condition emerges: carelessness and bad attitude among bureaucrats, on one hand, and the same among citizens, on the other. When careless traffic aides encounter careless, lackadaisical pedestrians, it results to monstrous traffic tie-ups!

In turn, this parallel situation affects public attitudes concerning property law, especially among the poor and less educated. They become careless and defy property rights. They squat on private and public land. But the mayor blesses their lawless act by giving them land (without titles) at one peso or less. He invites more slums to be created!

Traffic mess, lawlessness and the anarchy of slums are effects of bad official behavior.