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The raging storms

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos October 08,2017 - 10:09 PM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number and intensity of wrangling among public authorities in our current political landscape.

These conflicts are like the storms and hurricanes that are becoming more frequent and with ferocious effects.

The hurling of mud by high officials against fellow public officials, from one political branch to another or with constitutionally guaranteed independent institutions, has become such a recurring item in our news that it is no longer considered news.

Our nation seems to be in an endless tele-serye with twists and turns that no one can foresee what the ending can be.

The public verbiage can get virulent and embarrassing that at some point we want to believe that what is happening is just that, a teleserye, but then, we need to look at reality straight in the face and, as citizens who care about our country, do something about it.

The Constitution and our laws require the independent bodies such as the Civil Service Commissions and the Office of the Ombudsman to ensure accountability of public servants.

Why do some authorities act as if they can disregard ethical conduct at will and not be held accountable?

We better believe that Republic Act No. 6713, known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees,” is still a good law.

The statute declares as a public policy “to promote a high standard of ethics in public service,” with the Civil Service Commission mandated to have the “primary responsibility for the administration and enforcement” of this particular statute.

Does the Civil Service Commission even remind these public officers, including the highest officials of the land, of their duty to “discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest?” We really wonder and we deserve to know.

The Commission needs to show its constitutionally-mandated muscle or, should we bid goodbye to the path to good governance and ethical standards that should be instilled in each public servant?

The Office of the Ombudsman which has enjoyed a high degree of trust under the stewardship of the much-respected Ombudsman, retired Associate Justice Conchita Morales, has been dragged into the hostile “word war.” Her integrity is unquestioned. Ombudsman Morales was the recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2016 for “her moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems in the Philippines; promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership, the highest ethical standards in public service.”

The Constitution has prescribed means of holding accountable public officials. Definitely, those should be followed as we operate under the Rule of Law.

But, certainly, we do not need the noise and the verbal exchange, more so the false news, that have seemed to envelope our daily lives.

There are so many challenges that we face, from the social, economic to ecological standpoints. We have to find solutions to these pervasive issues and not waste precious time and with it, precious resources, human and otherwise, in these toxic distractions.

Elections are over.

We have to act as one, as Filipinos, who care about our country and each other.

Mature citizens can agree to differ in viewpoints and still retain that respect that sadly, along the way, seemed to have been lost or cast aside.

Let’s prove to our children and the world that we have reached that maturity so necessary if our democratic institutions and values are to be preserved.

Looking at the virulent comments online and the incessant public tirades, the politics of hatred that seemingly persists is so un-Filipino. Whatever happened to the distinctive trait of warmth and compassion that we used to be so proud of?

As citizens, we cannot be bystanders and pretend as if these raging storms in our nation’s lives will pass. If we do not do our share, these will eventually devastate our still young Republic and our people.

I admire how citizens of other countries have perfected the system of letting their representatives know what is on their mind, through the use of emails, public comments and online petitions or even engaging directly in dialogues with them.

Why don’t we start doing that in addition to making 1001 positive acts of nation-building?

We have to believe that government exists to serve the people and not the other way around.

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TAGS: Civil Service Commission, conflict, Office of the Ombudsman, politics, teleserye

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