Last of three parts
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.
— The Gospel of Saint John, 1:11-13
This week’s mass readings on Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd offer a fitting and meaningful context for this article on upright public servants. For indeed, state officials and bureaucrats willing to defend national and public interests against lawless elements and rapacious politicians are reprising on the governance stage the good shepherd of the Gospel fending off the wolves threatening the flock.
The nation’s need for such shepherds of state has become even clearer and undeniable with the ongoing pork barrel controversy. Plainly, if good governance efforts are left to elected leaders and their minions, as they are with the Priority Development Assistance Fund investigations, then many wolves get their way and get away with it by simply joining up with the ruling pack. As seen in the concealment of claimed lists of PDAF-skimming lawmakers, dirt against their camp can be hidden by the powers that be.
The real cover-up is at DBM
In fact, far more incriminating than any whistleblower’s uncorroborated enumeration of tainted senators and congressmen, are their official pork barrel fund releases and spending records. Most of those papers are still under lock and key at the Department of Budget and Management, despite repeated requests from the Commission on Audit.
Anti-corruption groups should stop salivating over easily manipulated lists from grafters-turned-witnesses, and instead heed the Supreme Court’s suggestion in its PDAF ruling: petition for a mandamus to make DBM turn over to COA all pork barrel papers. That’s the real cover-up: Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s refusal to give state auditors the spending documents for two-thirds of the P29 billion PDAF in 2007-09, mostly for Palace allies—plus the pork barrel of then Senator, now President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
If only we have today a patriotic team of bureaucrats like the vote tabulators at the Commission on Elections presidential election count in the Philippine International Convention Center in 1986. On national TV and despite the life-threatening clout of a dictatorial regime, several Comelec staffers walked out of the cavernous PICC hall to tell the people about fraud in the vote tabulation board. That expose eventually triggered People Power and brought down the Marcos regime.
How the Philippines needs now another bunch of good shepherds who would stand up to the wolves robbing the people blind, and bring to light the concealed records of graft, especially the PDAF papers being kept under wraps by DBM, an agency formally under the Office of the President. If there’s an act of bureaucratic courage now deserving a hefty cash reward and a iron-clad promise of whistleblower protection, this is it.
Can civil servants rise to the challenge?
Can Filipino civil servants today again muster the courage of those 1986 Comelec whistleblowers? Or is the nation left to the devices of dubious characters like Benhur Luy, Ruby Tuason, and Janet Lim Napoles, as well as the powerful entities offering them immunity from prosecution if they stick to the script, exonerating those in the favored camp while nailing political rivals?
Let’s hope not. And if the tales of Filipino Lingkod Bayanis is anything to go by, such hopes for civil service courage and sacrifice would not be in vain. For if there is anything that these heroes of the bureaucracy have shown through the decades, it is the heart and soul to serve the nation at all costs.
Take 2010 Dangal ng Bayan awardee Amelia Rayandayan. The jail warden of the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory solicited donations and gave her own Pag-IBIG Fund earnings to build a wall separating women detainees from the men, along with other improvements in the ladies dorm. Those improvements and Rayandayan’s sterling management earned the facility Best Jail awards for three consecutive years.
But more than the recognition, it is service to the people in her charge that Rayandayan values most: “I am always delighted to manage people especially the lowly ones who wanted to be transformed.” The Civil Service Commission report on Rayandayan concurs: “Her selfless acts of service boosted the morale of the detainees and aided their rehabilitation.”
Yes our Lingkod Bayani can and does!
There are countless other exemplars of public service from all levels of government, and we hope the call for giving them recognition, aid and protection, espoused in Part 2 of this article, would bring more of them to light. And perhaps it is most fitting at this time of public spending scandal to end this article with the following tale of auditing vigilance:
Another Dangal ng Bayan awardee in 2010, COA State Auditor IV Trinidad Gozun of COA’s San Fernando, Pampanga, regional office showed tenacity and courage in uncovering and substantiating nearly half a billion pesos in irregularities at the Region III office of the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation. And on top of the P449.7-million anomaly, Gozun also called attention to procurement violations at Quedancor which resulted in P1.7 billion in losses.
Gozun is clear about what the government needs: “If there is a particular area that could be improved upon, it would be on inculcating a higher sense of responsibility and accountability among the members of the civil service. We can do this by simply doing what is expected of us as public servants. We can start by giving emphasis on doing what is right over what is popular.”
The Filipino nation must join hands with good shepherds like the Lingkod Bayani cited in this article and many others serving quietly across the archipelago. Rather than the self-serving clowns now hogging the pork barrel limelight, it is our upright civil servants, working with the citizenry, who can clean up our country and set it on the road to true democracy and development. So help us God.
(The first part was published last Friday; the last part will run on Wednesday. If your group is interested in supporting upright civil servants, email email@example.com.)