Servant leadership and transparency in the era of COVID-19

By: Gloria Estenzo Ramos - Columnist/CDN Digital | April 09,2020 - 09:20 AM


Today, Christians practice the observance of Holy Thursday, in commemoration of the Last Supper and the washing of the feet of his disciples by Jesus, before he was crucified on Good Friday. Feet-washing is an ultimate act of servant leadership, they say. 

As Dr. Keith M. Kent, president emeritus, Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, pointed out, “There is no question that servant leadership begins with a servant’s heart, the desire to help others. Servant leaders are thus servants who have chosen to serve by leading. They will be servants before, during, and after they hold a leadership position, because that is their true nature—that is who they really are… The leadership positions can be given or taken away, but the servant leader remains a servant at heart.”

Amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, our own servant leaders are mushrooming. Among them are the doctors, nurses and health professionals, who choose to live their mission to heal people whatever the consequences, and countless and nameless frontliners in this fight.

In government, Vice President Leni Robredo epitomizes servant leadership in mustering the needed collaboration with various sectors, to assist the health workers and ameliorate the plight of the vulnerable sectors, strongly impacted by the extended community quarantine. The President’s sacking of the official who recommended her for investigation because of perceived “competition” with government, forgetting that the Vice President is part of government, was well-received by the public.

Likewise, Department of the  Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Aňo reminded the local government units that in the allocation and distribution of funds and goods to constituents to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, politics should be set aside, and the No-EPAL policy is in place.

In the private sector, the initiatives of doctors establishing Sugbo Volunteer Doctors Online, and former Heath Secretary Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan on online medical consultation, among other citizen-led initiatives, inspire.

With billions of funds earmarked under the Social Amelioration Fund, the Bayanihan Fund and opening of the Local Development Fund for LGUs to tap, there is need for monitoring and transparency as part of the process. 

Organizations are rallying behind the Social Watch Philippines call on government insofar as implementation of social amelioration are concerned to “Make public the list of beneficiaries. Transparency is an integral part of this effort. It will minimize suspicions of favoritism, corruption and politicizing this very important program.” 

Likewise, Oceana which I lead in the Philippines, calls for fair distribution of funds for fisherfolks who are heavily impacted as a result of spiked increase in commercial fishing violations and the delay in the delivery of the fish and fish products because of lack of coordination among agencies, despite guidelines issued by the Department of Agriculture.

This is a time for unity, but we should never lose the ethical conduct required not just for public officers but for each one. As someone puts it, “Ethics and equity and the principles of justice do not change with the calendar.”/dbs

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