Amidst the election uncertainty – Who will emerge victorious in Monday’s balloting? And how extensively will the victor alter the status quo in the government bureaucracy? – we want to stress to those in the government service and the citizenry that it is vital that the daily business of government is effectively discharged.
As important, the vigil over the coffers of government offices must not relax.
Because of the elections, and the expected transition to a new administration, we find ourselves today at an awkward time when the normal processes of governance are in a state of suspended animation.
We find it necessary to issue this warning and reminder, because most of the department secretaries and agency chiefs have become partisans in these elections. They are bound with President Aquino’s declared desire for continuity of his policies and programs in the next administration. He has his preferred candidates in the election. And he desires that his Cabinet members do their utmost to help his candidates win.
It is not lost on the public that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Jr. has emerged as the campaign manager or deputy campaign manager of Mar Roxas in this election. And he has plainly structured the budget and programmed the budget releases in such a way that favors the Roxas candidacy.
It is also well known that Edwin Lacierda is no longer speaking for President Aquino. He speaks and campaigns now for Roxas.
There are others in the administration who are carrying out their own partisan activities for their chosen candidates.
It is not illegal for the President and Cabinet members to support the candidates they like in the elections. What is prohibited by law and is outright against the law is electioneering by an active member of the government service – and the use of government assets and resources for electioneering purposes.
It is not a crime for members of the notorious Hyatt 10 to lobby for the retention of their choice posts. The incoming President must decide for himself or herself whether to go to bed with them.
Regardless of the exigencies and uncertainties of the moment, the business of the nation must move forward. Government cannot afford to stand still. Public services must be provided. The needs of citizens must be attended to. Law and order must be maintained. Standing rules and regulations must be enforced and observed.
The nation has permanent interests that must be served by both the incumbent and incoming administrations.
Government managers and their deputies cannot afford to be distracted from their duties and responsibilities. While many of them have prepared themselves for the possibility of departure, they must ensure that organizations are ship-shape for the delivery of public services and the transition to a new order. Only the leech-like will harbor hopes of hanging on to their positions.
It is the responsibility of department secretaries and agency chiefs to prepare their staffs and their organizations for the inevitable transition.
When the time comes, they should be in a position to brief their designated successors rationally and coherently on the state of the organization and the vital services that it provides and the policies that it is implementing
Some people may have difficulty grasping this important point: The continuity of the government service is different from the continuity of a governing administration.
The government service ideally should be abiding, almost permanent, assuring the nation and the public uninterrupted service in the vital needs of national life.
A governing administration has a temporal life. Its life ends when the term of a sitting President ends.