• Oath of Office

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    MAMBA

    Mabel P. Villarica-Mamba

    On July 1, 2013, 80 governors, 122 city mayors and 1,512 Municipal Mayors, plus vice governors, vice mayors, Board Members and Councilors, began their mandate to serve either as newly-elected or reelected officials. On July 22, 2013, 24 senators and 289 congressmen (including 58 party list representatives) will be starting their legislative work when Congress opens. It actually does not matter if it is their first, second or last term. With their election, we, the voters, gave them our permission and directive to lead us for the next 3 years (or 6 years in the case of the Senators). I expect them to fulfill their campaign promises, perform their oath as they vowed to do and serve the people (and not the other way around), at the very least.

    Thus, henceforth on July 1, I kept my eyes open as I passed through from one province, one city, one town to the other. Did anything change? Is it the same as how it has been from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013?

    As an ordinary observer-citizen, the first indication of any change would be the view from the streets. Is it clean? Are there uncollected garbage? Does trash litter the streets? Are there remnants of the 2013 elections hanging from electric posts, trees and cables? Is the river still dead?

    I appreciate very much, no matter if it’s a public relations ploy, LGU officials who went out to the dirtiest areas of their territorial jurisdiction to clean and hose down the dirt. I don’t appreciate when it remains to be a mere publicity ploy with no follow-up, no intention to make it permanent or regular, no significant result.

    Even if I am not from a particular province, city or town, I believe I have a right to appreciate or not, to comment and to suggest because I am a taxpayer. Part of the tax I (and all other taxpayers) pay to the national government goes to the Internal Revenue Allotment which is then distributed to each and every LGU, including the barangays. Thus, I (and all other taxpayers) have as much right to demand responsive, efficient and prompt public service from any public servant from any LGU anywhere in the country.

    In the same manner that much is expected from PCSO even if it does not get any allocation or subsidy from the national coffers.

    All its funds are generated from its various products. Nonetheless, its officials and employees exert every effort to serve its constituency comprising mostly of patients requesting medical assistance, as well as LGUs that need ambulances, or calamity relief and government medical facilities that lack medical equipment or medicines.

    This is because by virtue of its charter as a government agency under the Office of the President, any money paid to purchase lotto, sweepstakes, lotto express, scratch-it or small town lottery tickets changes character from being private money to public money.

    This means PCSO funds are government funds and must be used with extreme prudence and maximum discretion. It should only be spent on what is prescribed under the law.

    In this regard, the Commission on Audit (COA) plays a vital role. It should be consistent with its auditing function, most especially in the LGU level. During the recent election period, there was hardly any campaign rally which did not feature complaints of corruption, mismanagement of funds and misuse of public property. These could have been avoided if the implementation of government auditing rules and procedures in the national level is applied in all branches of government, down to its smallest units.

    To cite an example, the Municipality of Tuao in the Province of Cagayan which is located 500 kilometers north of Manila has a new municipal hall and 2 new public markets, among its most recent infrastructure projects, and yet it does not have any loans. It is debt-free.

    That is why I have to emphasize again and again the importance of the oath of office which any government official and employee must adhere to. As long as the basic precepts are performed and carried on, there is no reason for public service to fail.

    According to Section 32 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines, “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with the utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

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