EDITORIAL – Nation before self

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL � Nation before self

Addressing the graduating class of the Philippine National Police Academy yesterday, President Marcos reminded the new PNP officers to put the people ahead of personal interests – taumbayan bago sarili.

It’s a message that should be given to all government officials and employees. They are on the public payroll, and serving the public is their mandate. Across the bureaucracy, however, and at all levels of government, what the people often see is the opposite of the President’s admonition. The PNPA graduates may face a dearth of role models for selfless service to the nation. Even when public officials directly assist those in need, the activity often features self-promotion by politicians.

If the President’s admonition would be taken to heart by public officials, corruption and red tape would be drastically reduced. Transparency and accountability won’t remain in the realm of rhetoric and people will enjoy good government. The Marcos dictatorship, with its abuses and excesses, is Exhibit A for the consequences of putting personal interests ahead of the nation’s in government service.

Even with a dearth of role models, selfless service can be promoted through the proper implementation of Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Like most other laws in the country, unfortunately, implementation of RA 6713 is weak. Among the most brazen violators of the law are those in key government positions. Abuse of power and entitled behavior are more common than the selfless service and simple living set out in the Code of Conduct.

If there are few role models in high office, change can start from below. The PNPA graduates, along with other new entrants in government, need not follow in the footsteps of those who are public servants only in name. The newest batch of police officers, whose top graduate is a woman who reportedly sold siopao to fund her studies, can show that dedicated, competent and honest service can be the norm rather than the exception in government.

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