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Speech of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the Opening Ceremony of Philippine Government Employees Association National Convention, Manila Hotel, 7 December 2011, 9:30 a.m.
Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
The English author G.K. Chesterton wrote that, “Since the dawn of man, all nations have had governments; and all nations have been ashamed of them.” This accusation may not be hollow for even if we look at our own history, there were governments that were the object of revolutions rather than agents of change.
Fortunately for us, these regimes were ushered out of power through peaceful means and the nation managed to regain normalcy at the soonest possible time. Yet it seems that for many citizens, normalcy means slowness of action and inequality in the eyes of law.
As civil servants, this has always been and still remains our constant challenge. We have all sworn oaths to uphold the Constitution and discharge our duties faithfully and unwaveringly. But if the people cannot feel the impact of the service we render, then truly we must take a hard look at what we do and how we can be better.
In many ways, government is like a corporation. We are employed to serve a clientele that provides us with the revenue needed by our organization to exist. However, unlike a private business, our employers are also our clients. The public has elected our leaders into office and taxpayers dutifully remit monies to government so that the bureaucracy can extend services that truly benefit the people.
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” said the American patriot Benjamin Franklin. How wisely we use those taxes affects how the public views its government. As we continue to enjoin the citizenry to be diligent in the payment of their duties, we must also match their diligence in their obligations with a clear commitment to service and demonstrable results in our work.
A few rooms from this hall, the Association of Chiefs of Police of the Philippines is also convening. The PNP leadership, under our dear friend Nick Bartolome is undertaking a timely campaign called, “Serbisyong May Pagkukusa.” This effort intends to enrich the police’s mission of service, by stressing the importance of doing one’s best in the conduct of duty, and by voluntarily going further than what the standards demand.
This generosity in service and commitment to personal excellence are things that all of us should strive to live. Yes, our jobs are hard as they always have been. But the lives of those we serve are often so much more difficult than our own. In the case of many government services, it is the poor and the underprivileged that are in most need of our help and I am sure that you see many of them coming to your offices every day for assistance and recourse.
They have us and perhaps no one else. Their plight will not be made any lighter by our inaction or stagnation. While we still face old adversaries like poverty and calamity, we must also address the unfolding challenges of a world without borders. The global nature of trade has opened new doors to us, but new risks accompany these discoveries. For government to remain deserving of the people’s support, we need to address all problems whether old or new.
Education is a powerful weapon in our fight. As our country prepares to take its rightful place in the world community, our public servants should acquire the knowledge and skills needed to complete our journey. The private sector is well aware of education’s critical importance. They are quick to spot avenues of growth and they invest huge sums in research, development, education and training. Looking at fields as diverse as agriculture and outsourcing, it is clear that private enterprises have done their homework and continue to invest in the gathering of knowledge.
The governments of prosperous nations in Asia take the technical skills of their public officers seriously and provide ample opportunity for civil servants to take further studies, should they so desire.
We must find creative ways to do the same. For if it takes bright minds to distribute retail goods across the entire country, then should not the delivery of critical services be managed by people who are just as accomplished? Such moves are bold for they demand funding, but there are solutions that can be adopted without straining our treasury.
Several Congresses ago, a forward-thinking Senator filed a bill seeking to rationalize the manning of government offices. Under the proposal, existing personnel would be scattered between two shifts. This would permit the offices to stay open until 6 p.m. and accommodate citizens who had day jobs until 5 p.m. Just as importantly, government employees would gain added time for their personal affairs and development.
Had this measure passed into law, then the public would have had greater access to the services they needed, and people in government would have had the opportunity to pursue private opportunities to augment their income, as well as take up further studies.
We have so many state and city universities that our civil servants can flock to. If we can create the time for our bureaucrats to study, then these schools are open to those who meet the academic requirements. Many of these institutions offer courses in public administration and management, but some have programs in areas of strategic importance such as agriculture, urban planning, and environmental studies among others.
In providing opportunities for specialized education to our civil servants, the relevance of the school’s courses is also enhanced. Universities like Stanford remain at the cutting edge because they are quick to adjust their programs to the professional realities revealed by their graduates and students.
This constant calibration has ensured that what is taught is always relevant and that the graduates of all programs are able to meet the grueling demands of their professions. Working together, both the school and the bureaucracy improve at an accelerated pace which expands the intellectual base we need to address the complex problems of the future.
Malapit po sa aking puso ang edukasyon bilang haligi ng mahusay na pamamahala. Sa aking nakaraang paglilingkod bilang punong bayan, sinuportahan namin ang kagustuhan ng aming mga empleyadong nais mag-aral. Marami sa mga department heads ang nagpursige at tinapos ang kanilang mga Masteral studies at ang kanilang pinag-aralan ay kanilang ginamit upang mapabuti ang paghatid ng serbisyo sa mga mamayan.
To this day, the vibrant financial center that was built upon the hard work of so many professionals is the nation’s model for efficiency and access in public services delivery. All this was made possible by a highly skilled and educated pool of civil servants. And I believe that if we can give the entire bureaucracy decent access to relevant education, then we can lay the ground for innovation and timely change.
It has long been my advocacy to see a bureaucracy that will be the envy of the private sector, and I work for the day when government service shall compete with the private sector for the best minds from the best schools. I would also like to see our public servants’ pay match what the private sector would offer for their skills. If we pay a just wage for a man’s talents, then the threat of corruption is diminished.
Realistically, what we seek will not happen overnight. It will be a long road for us, but if we can uplift the capabilities of our government workers, and deliver results through the efficient use of resources, then in time, the public will be open to supporting revolutionary changes in government service.
To the leadership of the PGEA, I ask that you look at this dream more closely, and see how our fellow servants can gain the improvements they seek. Congress is an ally in this battle, and I believe they are open to passing the needed laws if you can help them see what the needed laws are. The President and I are with you, as both of us share the conviction that a culture of good governance is made possible by a highly professional bureaucracy.
The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre profoundly stated that, “There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.” The tomorrow we desire depends on how courageously we live today, so let us begin the tasks that will bring us progress. We have an endless stream of challenges ahead, but let adversity and scarcity inspire us to find our genius now.
Let the change we seek emanate from us. Let government start the revolution.
Maraming salamat po.
Mabuhay tayong lahat!