Rewarding incompetence = punish competence

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2018 - 12:00am

The good news is that President Rodrigo Duterte still listens to public opinion and the advice of good people around him. This was shown when President Duterte decided to “promote” former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña from head of an agency to cabinet rank as the new “Director General” of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA. In reality, the transfer to TESDA was a demotion and a politically correct way of removing soon to be Secretary Lapeña from an important frontline agency of the Department of Finance.

The rank of cabinet is simply a result of politicians dressing themselves up with the rank of cabinet for a job that is more in the status of a footstool. It may have been given or negotiated for, but, like “respect,” many who hold it have not earned it nor deserve it. I hope that future members of the Commission on Appointments will challenge or ban the title “Cabinet Secretary” or “rank of Cabinet” for positions or offices that are not at a Department level. Lets bring back the required stature and legitimacy for such a title.

Yes PRRD still plucks out his failed experiments but unlike his failed civilian appointees, it seems that President Duterte is a lot more cautious and diplomatic when it comes to plucking out “failures” from the Armed Forces. His last two failed experiments at the BOC have both been reassigned instead of being sent off to civilian anonymity. All that of course is well within his prerogative but there is now a growing sentiment that the recycling of political appointees has been creating a bad vibe in the government service. Critics have pointed out that instead of punishing incompetence in government, PRRD is promoting incompetents. Ironically, it was President Duterte who said in a recent speech that future applicants must first have honesty as well as competence. Duh?

First and foremost, placing political appointees as Secretary, Undersecretary, or Assistant Secretary, Director General or Commissioner means that hundreds of experienced, well-trained career executives are regularly denied opportunity for promotion and advancement as Civil Servants. Someone running for the next congress should run on a platform that limits political appointments only to the level of Secretary or if need be Undersecretary and no further! The job should also be co-terminus with their political patron. The learning curve or time frame to understand the business of government takes too long and is inefficient and subject to corruption and favoritism towards those who suck up or have backers!

What’s worse is how so many former politically appointed Directors, Commissioners, Asecs and Usecs have managed to stay on, got government sponsorship or scholarships to study abroad or get paid while on leave and earning their MA or MBA so they can stay on in the mother agency they were appointed early in their government life. In other words they cut in, “sumingit” or figuratively jumped the line, took positions that career government executives or employees have spent decades working at and aspiring for. And now many of these opportunists continue to get recycled as their former bosses in Malacañang or the Senate get re-elected to one position or another. When will the government unions and associations wake up to this injustice and insult, and band together to protest the continuing damage being made by political appointees? I’m hoping that my former students at the DAP will soon rise up to the challenge of forming a national association for Government Executives to defend and protect the bureaucracy from politically appointed invaders who end up not being co-terminus with their Amos!

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I recently learned that there are plans to declare an Amnesty on loose firearms and if President Duterte agrees, he might declare the amnesty in December this year. I sincerely hope PRRD does approve an amnesty on loose firearms because more than half of what’s out there is supposedly legal and previously licensed until their owners somehow forgot to renew their licenses.

I have suggested to several officials of the Philippine National Police that they should simply follow the system where car owners are allowed to register their vehicles even after the registration has expired simply by paying a standard penalty equivalent to 50% I think. If the Firearms and Explosive Office adopts that system, not only will they have more registered guns, more collections, they will have added income from the fines collected from absent minded gun owners. The old system of not allowing gun owners to register their expired license was actually to the disadvantage of the PNP because they suddenly don’t have active files, correct addresses, too many “loose firearms” and lost income! Here’s hoping that under the leadership of PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde and FEO Director Val De Leon, gun owners can simply pay fines and not be classified as law breakers or criminals.

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It seems that a lot of people are taking notice on the recent award the Pasig River Rehabilitation program received. The recognition was even mentioned in our church and the audience all gave a round of applause for the achievement. I just hope that Malacañang, the Senate and Congress would all help the coordinating agency and elevate it into an independent office with quasi-judicial powers and its own budget so they don’t end up being everybody’s errand boy or a mere coordinating office. I also hope that the Pasig River Ferry becomes an independent agency fully or 50% subsidized by government and private sector so we can reduce the foot and vehicle traffic on EDSA and C5. Lets all pray for the success of these government projects!

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