Prior to the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte, many lay in wait for what he will wear when he assumes the highest position of the land. Not one known for extravagant sartorial taste, President Duterte chose to wear Barong Tagalog without any embroidery except that of the Philippine flag.
During the campaign period and even after being assured of victory in the Presidential polls, through the days before his inauguration as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, his message to stop corruption and to eliminate criminality and the drug menace resonates across the country. Nothing has changed in his promises. And through the days, his wardrobe remains the same.
His simplicity projects how he intends to run the Government. I would venture to translate his demeanor from a maritime industry perspective:
1.Government officials and employees should wear simple but decent attire and opt to sparingly use jewelry. Better yet, Government employees must wear uniforms in order to be easily identified by their clientele.
In some agencies, the wearing of uniform is left to the discretion of the employees.
Thus, uniforms are dispensed with; instead, employees are required to wear blouses/dresses according to assigned colors of the day. So everyone wears red on a Monday, green on a Tuesday, white on Wednesday and so on. Such policy defeats the purpose of having a uniform, mainly that of being easily identified especially in an agency which receives hundreds of applicants and visitors everyday. Fixers may just have to follow the color scheme of the day and represent him/herself as an employee or intruders may just squeeze themselves into the premises. IDs can be easily copied and reproduced while it takes extra effort to do the same for uniforms.
2. Regulations must be couched in simple and easily understood language. I quote Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it in simple terms, then you do not understand it.” Complicated rules and processes generate different interpretations. Simple maritime regulations do away with discretion.
3. With the exception of regional and international meetings and conferences and similar events, hosting of meetings, events and activities with local participants shall be held in the agencies’ office premises, not in hotels. Simple fares are to be served. Choose Filipino delicacies when hosting visitors; foreign delegates might come to love them.
Still the focus in these events should be on the substantive issues rather than incidentals.
Related to this, meetings must be kept to the minimum, i,e, no more than one hour and only those who are expected to materially contribute to the discussions are to be invited.
I understand that agencies attached to the Department of Transportation received instruction not to hold meetings from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The coverage of such proscription is still to be defined.
4. Office premises must be kept simple and functional. I remember seeing an office of a Government officer complete with black lights and music contraptions. Guests and visitors to his office were appalled to find such contrivances in a Government office.
We are not saying Government offices must appear shabby and decrepit. On the other hand, these offices must reflect the dignity and decency expected of a Government office.
Being simple goes beyond the physical sense. Government officials and employees must respond to the needs of the public. There should be no pretenses of them being above the people they are supposed to serve.
Public servants, that’s simple enough to understand!