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EDITORIAL - Proper compensation

(The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2014 - 12:00am

It’s honest work and certainly better than shaking down erring motorists. Still, the sight of a traffic enforcer moonlighting as a snack vendor should make policy makers review the compensation for public servants.

Fernando Gonzales, a 51-year-old traffic enforcer of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, sells rice cakes made by his wife on his days off on weekends, wearing his MMDA uniform to attract attention along EDSA in Quezon City. Gonzales said he needed to augment his monthly income of P15,000 for the education expenses of his sons – one a college freshman and the other in junior high school.

Gonzales admitted considering “kotong” or extortion from motorists apprehended for traffic violations, but he said he feared he would lose his job if caught. Other traffic enforcers have no such qualms, apparently believing that the extra earnings are worth the risk.

There is no excuse for corruption, especially when billions are involved and those engaged in it are wealthy to start with and simply can’t control their greed. But among ordinary members of the bureaucracy, low pay surely encourages graft.

Low compensation also makes it difficult for the government to recruit capable personnel. Thousands of public school teachers have left the country for better paying jobs overseas, with some of them even accepting employment as maids. This phenomenon contributed to the decline in the quality of Philippine education and a corresponding slide in national competitiveness in the past decades.

In the Philippine National Police, where the entry pay is just barely above the minimum wage, studies have shown that many police personnel live below the poverty line and lack decent shelters.

Pay in government health centers is also so low nursing graduates and other health professionals prefer to work in call centers. At the peak of the global demand for nurses, Filipino doctors obtained nursing degrees and left the country to work abroad.

Like other public servants, these health professionals are surely aware that working in government calls for some degree of personal sacrifice. But like Gonzales, they must meet certain financial obligations to survive. If the government wants to deliver optimum service to the public, it can borrow best practices from the private sector, among which is that happy employees are more productive.

 

 

FERNANDO GONZALES GONZALES GOVERNMENT HEALTH IN THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE LOW METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PUBLIC QUEZON CITY TRAFFIC
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