WITHOUT going through the costly and risky surgical procedure, a long-time friend who has three grown-up children got one of the biggest shocks in her life a few weeks ago when she became a male, courtesy of an incompetent employee of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
My friend has breached the golden age as a female. While some men wear long hair like hers, and moves as demure as she does, how can her name Maria Cristina be mistaken for a man?
Although Maria Cristina is the family’s breadwinner and stands as both mother and father to her children, the gender change was an undesirable and troublesome birthday gift.
The irresponsible LTO employee who wrote Maria Cristina’s gender in her driving license as male must have been texting, talking to another person, watching AlDub, quarreling with his/her girlfriend/boyfriend, has poor eyesight, or simply thinking of something else but not about what he/she was doing.
The options given to Cristy were both revolting: get the driving license right away and face the trouble of having to explain her gender as male every time she gets flagged down or when she presents her license as an identification card until she renews it after three years, or to wait for three months to claim her new license with, hopefully, the correct personal details.
Cristy, who had to take a leave from work and paid good money to renew her license, chose the lesser infuriating second option. She had to suffer the consequences of an irresponsible and incompetent LTO employee’s doing.
That employee may have caused more trouble to other applicants, and despite his/her incompetence, may soon be getting a salary increase via the government’s Salary Standardization Law.
While Cristy could report that erring employee to the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the process is too time-consuming for a busy business executive like her.
A few days before Cristy’s irritating experience at LTO, another friend blew her top when claiming a tax certificate from the real estate office at Quezon City Hall. It was supposed to take her just a few minutes to show her claim stub and get the certificate. But it was not. When she presented her claim stub, she was told that what her husband paid a week before was not enough. There was another year of unpaid real estate tax that she had to settle and if she would pay it on that day, she could get the tax certificate after three days. Why it was not checked when the husband settled the tax arrears a week before could not be explained.
Pret is a businesswoman who keeps a hectic schedule. Coming back from Bulacan after three days for something that should have taken her a few minutes to do over the counter was too much trouble for her, not to mention the cost of gasoline and road toll, as well as the time wasted in traffic.
I have nothing against the government’s plan to raise the salaries of civil servants, but it should go hand in hand with a rationalization plan to weed out the undesirable, incompetent, inefficient, misfits, non-performers in the bureaucracy.
Those in the frontline service should make life easier for law-abiding citizens who pay good money for government services. Otherwise, they don’t deserve to stay a minute longer and be entitled to a salary raise if they are incompetent.
Twenty-seven centavos for every peso in the proposed P3.002-trillion budget for 2016 would go to personal services, the budgeting term for the basic pay, perks and premium contributions of government workers and the pension of retired uniformed personnel. That is P810.8 billion, representing an 8.7 percent higher than the P746 billion allotted for this year.
The objective to raise the government’s pay rates is justifiable. The last increase in salaries of government workers was in 2012 through the Salary Standardization Law III that became law in 2009.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it included P50.6 billion in the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 specifically for the salary raise. The amount, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, would translate to an average P3,000 a month increase in the salary of each of the 1.3 million government employees.
Abad said this would be on top of the P17 billion in performance-based incentives that the national government would grant to its employees.
This was still way below what was proposed in Senate Bill 2671, also known as the Salary Standardization Law IV, to adjust pay scales starting with a minimum P16,000 for salary grade one, a sizeable jump from the current P9,000 minimum wages for government employees.
The P3,000 monthly adjustment endorsed by Malacañang may not even be enough for the lowest-ranked government employee to cover the increases in the prices of basic commodities and services. But for the higher-ranked civil servants, the adjustment in peso amounts is several folds higher than the take-home pay of those in lower salary levels.
But that is not enough justification for lackluster or mediocre work.
There ought to be parallel move in government for a top to bottom job review, performance evaluation, incentive retirement, new hires and weed out the non-performers.
I fully agree that it is high time to provide just and equitable compensation to all government employees to help them cope with the rising cost of living, but those who are not doing their jobs properly and make life more difficult to the public that they serve don’t deserve any increase at all. In fact, they don’t deserve to be in public service.
Unless we change the system in which political patronage and favoritism are given higher consideration over skills in hiring people, public service will remain a misnomer.
It has been said that in government, it is who you know –not what you know — that matters.