THROUGHOUT these past 4 years and about10 months that PCOS-produced de facto President BS Aquino has been in power, we have many times urged Times readers to join us in praying for the miracle of his and his key collaborators conversion into more truthful, honest, ethical and competent officials who are no longer criminally negligent of their duties.
Today we ask our pious readers to join us in praying that God, the Holy Trinity, favors us the Filipino people with the miracle of making the President and Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Navarro Ochoa, Jr. heed the call (which we reproduce below) of the respected institution known as the Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO).
FSGO is asking Mr. Aquino to fill the vacancies in the very important Constitutional Commissions with persons of integrity and experience and not treat the leadership positions in the Commission on Audit, the Commission on Elections, the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman “as rewards for faithful subordinates and political friends.”
Nothing less than a miraculous divine intervention will make the FSGO’s wishes for good governance come true. For we have seen many times, but more flagrantly since the January 25 Mamasapano Massacre of 44 heroic PNP-SAF commandos, that President Aquino and his allies are doing everything to ensure that he and his collaborators are spared from any liability and punishment for their crimes and malfeasances. Appointing only men and women who will protect Mr. Aquino and serve his interests in COA, Comelec, CSC and the Ombudsman is for him imperative.
But nothing is impossible to God.
Statement on the Urgency of Presidential Appointments to Constitutional Bodies
As Former Senior Government Officials, we have learned that a strong democracy rests on four government pillars: the three branches of government and, collectively, the Constitutional Commissions. The Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches exercise supreme authority within their respective spheres. The Constitutional Commissions ensure that these three branches do not abuse their exclusive powers:
• Commission on Audit ensures that the country’s resources are spent properly.
• Commission on Elections safeguards the credibility of the electoral system to ensure that those who win the elections indeed represent the people’s will.
• Civil Service Commission guarantees that the government personnel have the appropriate qualifications for office and are able to perform their jobs effectively without harassment from vested interests in or outside their offices.
• The Office of the Ombudsman addresses complaints filed against government authorities who exploit public office for private profit.
Given the mandate of these Commissions, we expect that those chosen to lead them will come from experienced executives who have excellent credentials and credibility in the office they will assume, as well as deep familiarity with, if not actual involvement in, the operations of government and the bureaucracy. They serve for a fixed term of seven years and can be removed only by impeachment. The Constitution provides them this protection from possible pressures to accommodate the political powers on whom they exercise oversight. Reflecting the importance of their responsibilities, they are given a life-time pension equivalent to their salary upon retirement, which also benefits from subsequent increases awarded to their offices.
Those who perceive the President as a lame-duck forget the fact that he will appoint replacements for those chairs of constitutional bodies whose terms expired on 2 February 2015. The President must exercise this power with great prudence. In judging his legacy, historians will evaluate the people he appointed and how well they have served.
Since his new appointments will serve beyond his own term, whether he knows them personally and is comfortable with them should no longer be the most relevant criteria. Neither should these offices be treated as rewards for faithful subordinates or political friends.
The President still has the chance now to broaden the executive search for these Commissions, which serve to buttress our democracy. The only criteria for these appointments must be proven competence in the functions they will discharge, a track record of integrity, and a clear commitment to the service of the country.