Corruption: Reduced to a popular conversation topic

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

CORRUPTION has never been a monopoly of dirty policemen that seeking a solution to it would be like asking misguided legislators to focus more on making laws than issuing press releases. As a disease, it has become endemic among those who are wrongly defined as public servants, some, or many of whom, are behaving like they are not.

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If legislators hate corruption, so do the ordinary folks who are bombarded with news everyday about the practice being very rampant. Even the media take it up for a topic but fail to recommend solutions to eradicating it. For one, Melo del Prado, who hosts a morning talk show over DZBB, often discusses it on air.
All this shows how corruption has become simply a popular conversation topic. Is there really no hope of solving it?

In this country, we, Filipinos, can never boast of being good taxpayers to solicit better government service. The response we would probably get would be a “so what?” The more courageous among us might even fear identifying officials unworthy of their public office. The question for us to name any government office that dispenses the best public service would even be difficult to answer. It is a question that, perhaps, even I will never ask because I do not wish to hear a stupid answer such as, “so what?”

I’ve had a personal encounter with the difficulty of finding efficient service during a recent tour of three government offices, when I wasted five days of a five-day workweek, plus half a day. I still have to finish the submission to the Social Security System of certain documents to support a family aide’s membership to the SSS.

Luckily for me, it took me less than two hours to finish my transactions with the Pag-IBIG Fund.

I was asked to return to PhilHealth twice because of an incomplete set of filings after making the required payments which my wife and our family aide decided to advance for six months at an accredited Post Office nearby. The lady worker at the counter rejected the copies of payments for being duplicates. After I’ve segregated them, she considered only one to be an original copy.

I knew six of them were originals because of the markings at the back of each page. Her doubts should make the seller of the brand of my copier ecstatic but I am not identifying what it is so that I would not be accused of being biased against the others.

The post office to which I paid the PhilHealth dues issued me a receipt, but not the duplicates. When I went back to the lady at the counter, I was asked to have my only copy recopied six times in a nearby store. I did as ordered.

For the information of the management of the branch office of the Social Security System in Binang, in Laguna, the SSS office in Santa Rosa City, which is also in Laguna, accepted our family aide’s filings even without my wife’s authorization. As I had written in a previous Due Diligencer, SSS-Binang City did not accept the bank receipts as proof of payment because I was not authorized to do so by my wife, who was the signatory of the bank receipts.

I had to retell my experience in dealing with SSS-Binang City to illustrate the need to reeducate not only the lowest government workers but also the top officials in rendering public service. Inculcating honesty in them is not enough when the few, if not many, wayward employees among them have the wrong notion about joining the government.

Efficiency would be a virtue for them to learn because without it, public service would be totally dead. It should be taught to the higher-ups, their immediate subordinates and the rank-and-file workers who do most of the jobs to make their bosses look efficient.

Incidentally, while I found it more fun to deal with Pag-IBIG fund, it had something in common with SSS and Philhealth. All three government agencies provide seats for senior citizens. However, unfortunately for the elders, the reserved seats were fully occupied by much younger members and their chaperones young enough to be my children. As I will soon turn 70 years old, I feel I have the right to pose this question: Is inefficiency in government not a form of corruption? Just asking.

esdperez@gmail.com

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