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CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Back in 1985 while working in the US, I applied for acceptance in a Post Graduate course on International Studies at the Fairfield University in Connecticut. The plan was to get accepted and study under a scholarship grant from the University of the Philippines where my father was employed as Chancellor of Student affairs and who was actively involved in raising funds for UP Scholars. Since I had employment experience, plus the fact that I was locally employed and residing in the US, I was told that I held a distinct advantage for approval to be a “UP Scholar”. I was accepted into the Fairfield University program and advised to arrange funding and documentation so I could start in the next semester.

Unfortunately, not even all the right cards and contacts were enough because I was told that my dad Louie Beltran and the UP President then; Ed Angara had a falling out and with that so did any chance of me getting a scholarship from UP. For the record I received this information from the UP President’s office directly. Although I held a grudge against PEJA for a while I eventually moved on and have been cordial with him up to now. As a result of that unfortunate experience, I have developed a deep appreciation for opportunities and blessings such as scholarships and the like.

So when I see and hear how certain government officials as well as their agencies ignore, dismiss or simply chose not to participate in programs that could greatly increase the knowledge and expertise of their managers and executives, I cannot help but want to make a hit list of officials who should be criticized harshly for depriving themselves or their people of free and necessary knowledge to make them better managers.

A few months ago, I was asked by a government agency to conduct a “media training” for senior executives specifically 5 Undersecretaries and 7 Directors all of whom were involved in rolling out government projects and were directly involved in promoting and explaining these government projects to the media and to the public. The event took a couple of months to put together due to conflicts in schedules as well as the yuletide season back then. Nonetheless, the training day came complete with food, materials and venue. Sadly, of the 5 Usecs and 7 Directors that were invited only 2 directors showed up, 2 Usecs came very late, while 2 subs tried their best to represent their departments and learn from the training. The two Usecs came very late, stayed an hour or 2 and after an hour one Usec stepped out for a “meeting”.

In order not to waste all the work and expense, we rounded up who ever could benefit within the hosting agency and went on as scheduled. At the end of the 2-day affair, one participant summed up the whole thing:

“It’s like you were courting someone (the media) and that someone actually went through all the trouble of preparing a long list of likes and dislikes, do’s and don’ts and exactly what to do in order to win them over. But instead you decide not to show up for the date.”

Go figure, the non-attendees totally dishonored their well-meaning colleague and did not consider the potential insult and repercussion of snubbing a professional trainer and member of media who could have taken their non-attendance as a direct affront and spend the following weeks attacking them. Perhaps President Noynoy should reconsider his view about the “Cottage Industry of Criticism” that he calls media. How would he feel if he was guest of honor in a flagship project and the same officials snubbed him? I personally don’t take offense but I’m appalled at the attitude of these people.

Imagine being offered a 650 thousand to one million peso gift certificate that would entitle you to free board and lodging in a facility located in one of the country’s top tourist destination, where you will undergo in-residence training to earn the equivalent of an MBA program under the best and most experienced academicians, executives and industry practitioners. While you’re undergoing schooling, you maintain your position and salary and are allowed to maintain contact with your office on a day-to-day basis. If you qualify and chose to accept this free gift, you will then become part of only 4 batches in the last 2 years that have graduated at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City. The experience will also make you part of nationwide network of middle and senior government executives who will now become your official batch mates and family at the academy.

Every 3 to 6 months the Development Academy of the Philippines opens their PMDP program (Public Management Development Program) to all departments and agencies of the Philippine government. So far it has been my privilege to mentor 4 batches with an average population of 45 to 50 students from every region and office in the Philippines. I really enjoy and value my time with them because the interaction gives me a better understanding and appreciation of the fact that we have a lot of excellent government managers, many of whom simply needs additional training, awareness of marketplace reality and practice. Unlike many MBA programs, the PMDP exposes scholars to ideas and tests that go beyond intellect and compliance. In the PMDP they also undergo personal packaging, “visioneering” concepts, critical thinking, brand management alongside the more serious stuff of governance and management from a regional and global perspective.

So if you were offered such a free gift, wouldn’t you love to accept this privilege? Well, not everybody in the PNoy administration thinks so. I’ve been told that PNoy really appreciates and understand the important contributions that the Development Academy of the Philippines has consistently made to nation building. Unfortunately people from various agencies think they know it all or don’t want to let their people benefit from such opportunities. Recently I learned that invitations, announcements, even personal follow ups have been made to agencies like the Bureau of Customs, the Land Transportation Office and the DOTC among others, to send their candidates. But they continue to be unresponsive.

Personally, I believe the Office of the President should talk to DAP Head Tony Kalaw and his team and organize a class representing the DPWH, DOTC, PNP, MMDA, DILG, Customs, BI and BIR and require the heads to participate in the PMDP to improve their knowledge, perspective and public acceptance. Stop hiring friends as consultants, go to school and learn!

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