Two pernicious things have happened to the public service during the six-year term of President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd.
The first is the totally mind-boggling refusal of Aquino appointed officials to quit their posts, even after well-documented failure at their posts, and the atrocious waste of public money and the deterioration of public services.
Plague of coterminous officials
Aquino has added to the public distress by absolutely refusing to fire them. He says cryptically that these shameless officials are “coterminous” with him, meaning they will not go until he goes or dies.
To this infamous list, we must place the names of Transportation and communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya (whose failures at the DOTC are legendary); Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who, according to the Supreme Court has swindled the nation of over P150 billion of public money; Manila Internationl airport Authority General Manager Angel Honrado, who has singularly turned the country’s premier international gateway into one of the worst airports in the world; and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who is facing multiple charges for the colossal failures of his department, and his personal accountability for missing public funds.
No day passes in this country when the citizen does not hurl at least one imprecation against these officials.
Public frustration has built up to an unprecedented level, as most citizens now realize that they will never see these people depart, until we are free of President Aquino, who is evidently the role model for all of them.
Retired officials who won’t go away
The second pernicious legacy to public service during BS Aquino’s watch, is that former public officials, who have already retired from the service and have been rewarded with handsome retirement pay and benefits, refuse to stay retired and persist in trying to influence policymaking and decisions at their former offices.
The most notorious retirees who won’t stay retired are: former chief justice Artemio Panganiban, who has found a second calling as a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and has used his writings to lobby for Sen. Grace Poe and to bamboozle the Supreme Court into declaring her a natural-born citizen with ten-year residency in the country.
Next on my list is former chief justice Hilario Davide, who has reinvented himself as a political dynast in Cebu province, and has repeatedly gotten appointed by Aquino to public-relations initiatives of the administration.
Next is former Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes, who persists up to now in issuing election policy statements, and in second-guessing the actions of the current chairman and the elections body.
Finally, we should add to the list the name of former social Security System president Corazon de la Paz, because of the way she has suddenly emerged from out of the blue to defend the atrocious decision of President Aquino to veto the congresssionally-approved pension hike for some three million SSS retirees.
Hypocritical veto by a non-SSS member
The insensitivity of President Aquino’s veto of the legislated pension hike for some three million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) would not be so revolting if it were not attended by so much hypocrisy and humbug.
Here is a man who has never held a job or earned a salary and wages in his entire life, telling citizens who have spent decades of their lives in diligent and honest toil to just stuff it.
Here is a man who has never been a member of the SSS telling bonafide members that they should not hope for more benefits from the system, not even when Congress itself passes a law for a hike in benefits.
He justifies his veto by saying that he is doing it for the survival of the system, and for the welfare of all SSS members. We are served several mouthfalls of Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma’s nonsensical double talk.
I think the biggest wounds inflicted on SSS pensioners are those administered by present and past officials of the system, who have gotten fat and rich by awarding themselves obscene salaries and allowances and perks from the system’s largesse.
They who have milked the fund for years have banded together to provide President Aquino a jargon-filled explanation of his veto.
It was offensive to see Former SSS president Corazon de la Paz coming out of retirement to lecture the public that if pensions are to be increased, then contributions must be raised as well. Otherwise, the SSS will not be able to provide services to its retired and active members. She also advised members not to rely on the SSS alone.
When did we elect De la Paz?
Why is this woman who retired from the SSS sometime ago, and got millions as part of her retirement package, still trying to dictate policy at the SSS? Who gave her the authority to style herself as a wiser policymaker than the ladies and gentlemen of the House and Senate, who enacted the law mandating the pension hike? When did we the people elect her to this enviable position? What is her advice now costing us?
I would advise her to read carefully the Ethics in Government Act of the United States, which sets out in clear language how public officials are supposed to leave behind their former posts. The statute discusses the unethical practice of the “revolving door” wherein former officials attempt to influence decisions in their former agencies. It is a federal offense.
SSS as Ponzi scheme
Finally, I advise her to take hold of a serious study of social security, which says bluntly, that social security is in fact an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
It would be all right for De la Paz to offer her gratuitous advice, if she can defend the SSS against this potent charge.
“It’s public service, not self-service.”
Every public official, whether appointed or elected, should hang this shingle on their door or their desk, to remind themselves of the fundamental ethical obligations of public service.
No citizen should enter public service for the explicit purpose of enriching himself or his relatives through his office. If he does, it will almost certainly be through the violation of ethics laws and through official misconduct. Behind any public official whose net worth increases many times over during his period of public service, there is almost surely a crime or breach of conduct. This is the reason why the SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth) is required to be filed by officials annually.
The view of public service as an honorable calling has ironically taken its biggest beating from the Aquino administration, which publicly professes adherence to a straight and righteous path, but in practice, has tolerated the plunder of public money and made dishonesty an integral part of our public life.
With just five months to go, Aquino will not resign or be impeached. We will just have to wait until he withers away, and is hauled to court for all his sins of misgovernance and cruelty.
“Manhid at palpak” said vice president Jejomar Binay of BS Aquino. He hit this national malady on the head.