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THREJANN ACE L.

NOLI, RSW Social Welfare Officer III PSWD Misamis Oriental

The Man behind the Mask of PUBLIC SERVANT


As election to any government position is fast approaching, candidates are pleading before the constituents of the Republic of the Philippines just to win their sentiments and sympathy leading to the inclusion of their names in the ballot to secure a government position. If they needed to plead and kneel before the people just to express how sincere they are in their desire to become public servants, they will do it. Politicians and candidates for government elections observed the trend and develop the technique to win in the election, - penetrate to the heart and dire situations of the masses particularly to the group of poor people, disadvantaged, oppressed and deprived of their rights. Just a little bit hugging and firm shaking of hands to a certain leader of the ethnic tribe even if they are nauseated; dine with them in their tribal food even if they are not accustomed with it, and act as their knight in a shining armor to defend their cause from oppressive structures, if you are planning to run for government position, surely you are in the right track of winning the horrific competition in the history of the government. Furthermore, public service is not monopolized only by government officials but it includes also all government employees who are rendering service to the public or citizens of the state. Here is the real situation of all government employees before they were hired and on the process of selling their selves to government offices and agencies. It might sound ridiculous, but this is true based from my observations and acquired vicarious knowledge from the individuals who are serving the government. This is the picture. As a fresh graduate affected by the economic crisis and the pressure of very minimal job opportunities, he/she will do everything just to secure a job in any government position regardless of his/her status of appointment. Worst of that is, they will please and make promises to the local chief executive just to hire him/her appearing with pity and acting like pathetic. Furthermore, there are employees who received their regular item and being hired without consideration to the qualifications and criteria of the job because, they are close to the heart of the chief executive- those who supported his/her candidacy. If you belonged to the opposition during election, your future is clear, clear not to be hired whether we like it or not, this became the newest trend today and accepted by many.

Few months of work, the employee will be functioning like really a servant. He/she will be doing the duties and responsibilities of the job, performing the task with the attitude of commitment, humility and efficiency as required by the government. Furthermore, every worker should attend the need of the public or intended beneficiaries of their services by accommodating them well and responding to their needs. However, these particular attitudes which are required under the Code of Ethics and Standards in Public Service are no longer visible because the employees who before pleaded to be hired become master from being a servant. Why Master? This is manifested through the following; the moment there are walk-in clients, they will not attend directly to the needs, the office has an air of superiority, alienation instead of servantry, instead they will exhibit accommodating and humble attitude, its the clients who are performing this, and willfully forgot the essence and meaning of public service because nobody can removed them from office especially if they are regular employees. These are only some of the realities about public service. As defined by Encarta Dictionaries, public servants are holders of position; an appointed or elected holders of a government position of office. But this meaning has an implied meaning on public servants. But let us try to define the two words combined as compound word. What is public? It is defined as the public or people in the community who consumed the public goods and services rendered by the government offices or non-government although they differ on purpose. Next is the word servant. As defined, it refers to somebody who serves another or other; an employee who serves somebody else. Combining the two definitions, I may define public servant as a government employee or government official who is willing and prepared to serve the public regardless of races, ethnic tribes and classes in the strata of society. Moreover, whoever assumes the role of public servant is bound to serve the people of the Philippines. He/she sets aside personal values and personal convenience so that goal and purpose of public service will not be compromised. Thus, they make the citizens as their master because their agency existed because of clients and not the local chief executive who hired them or gave a regular item even though they received direct orders coming from the former. In the bureaucratic model of Max Weber, a German Sociologist proposed that his model is efficient in terms of managing complex organization. Furthermore, according to him, it is right to exercise authority or legal based on the position an employee holds which bound by the rules and regulations or standard operating procedures, thus, it secures the employee from abuse of power. This model emphasizes the depersonalization attitude of every employee who is working in the organization in terms of dealing with their colleagues and even to their clients who happened to be their relatives. In

addition, personal properties are separated from official properties owned by the firm or organization which barred the employees regardless of position to use official properties for personal use (Organization and Management, pp67-70). Scrutinizing the model, its very efficient for it provides parameters and guidelines on how an employee will perform the task within the agency. That is why I refer this as a MASK of public servant which possesses norms, rules, guidelines and inherent authority to the position. Why mask? Its because anyone who will be working as an employee of a government agency should wear this mask upon reporting to the office at exactly 8 o clock in the morning and remove this (referring to the mask) after 5 oclock in the afternoon. Whether we like or not, as ag government employee, we need not to bring our personal values grounded from various beliefs or our culture but instead adhere to the values of public service. During the period of working hours, relationship inside the office is not personal but rather professional as required to maintain the values of professionalism as deterrent against graft and corruption. Everyone is taking off its personal values leaving it outside the vicinity of the government agency and wears the agencys values and ethics regardless of position in the agency, status, race, educational attainment and even age. As worker, you are paid by the government to work 8 hours a day and if you exceed rendering work beyond 5 oclock, it will be charged as overtime with corresponding compensation even if there is nothing to work for over time. Although the organization is composed of people who have different values system that might affect its performance of the job, the Civil Service Commission provided rulings and code of ethics in performing its respective job, the extent of its authority inherent to the position. That is why if youre running a government position except at the barangay level, you should divest your personal assets and resign from the job to avoid conflict of interest granting if the person won. Thus, it requires everyone in the public service to abide on the rulings to avoid compromising of tasks performance, to avoid dismissal from government service, and to avoid jeopardizing the public service as a public trust. Nevertheless, no matter how ideal is the bureaucratic agency with clear description of its jobs and authority, in practice, this is not followed. There might be government workers who are adhering into this, but by making approximation, very few percent are imbibing this. This is supported by various complaints, grievances and disappointments of workers inside a bureaucratic organization on how it functions in delivering its services specifically the local government units of the government. Therefore, the mask can be worn by anyone as long as he/she is a government worker and fully sworn to do his/her best in accomplishing the tasks without reliance from subjective values that might affect the operation of the entire agency.

Leading the light of understanding better of what is really a public servant, based from my observations through vicarious acquisition of knowledge and experiences as a government employee; I categorized the concept of public servant into two: 1. Public servant by name and 2. Public servant by action. Moreover, we will contrast the concepts in two levels; 1. A public servant during office hours and 2. A pubic servant beyond office hours. What is a Public servant by name? As I defined it operationally, public servant by name is person who lacks passion, commitment, and passive, indifferent on the job, carnal and to the client and who is motivated only by hunger of fame, prestige and monetary compensation (it might lead to graft and corruption). On the contrary, public servant by action is dedicated, committed and performs the tasks and responsibilities at his/her best, performs the role of public servant should ought to do, who adheres to the regulative code of ethics of the agency and considers public service and the welfare of the clients as well as the agency as the first priority. In the level of a public servant during office hours, the former (public servant by name) perceived the office as his/her comfort zone and escape from pressures prevailing from his/her home leading to the manifestation of poor work ethics. Furthermore, he/she will have no focus on his/her works, but instead spends time on chatting with colleagues and performs tasks not related to his/her work, like for instance, prioritizing his/her needs such as his/her personal appearance if he/she looks adorable and presentable. Theres no wrong with it, however, as per observation, these employees are retouching and fixing their selves in front of their clients to the extent that the latter will be ashamed because of the thought that they might disturbed the worker which in fact, the employees should be feeling that way. Moreover, they will be treating their clients as below with them showing the attitude of superiority and the desire to be revered defeating the atmosphere of the office of accommodation and convenience. There are really instances that workers will refer the client from worker to other that caused delayed in the processing of the concern and created confusion on the part of the client. Thus, it created doubts among the clients to go to the office for help. Aside from these, employees will bring office properties to the their homes and without turning it back to the office like ballpens, papers, notebooks, punchers, staplers and other portable office materials. To add, you cant find these employees at their post even they are not attending important concerns maybe to other departments or units. In addition, it has no concern on the welfare of office in general. Lastly, these offices particularly mandated by law to cater the needs of the needy, which I considered as worst practice is the hostility

towards accommodating clients who are stinky, ill-dressed and pitiful which supposedly their agency exists because of these clients. On the case of government officials, during the election campaigns, they are professing of serving the public even if there is a need to kneel before the masses they will do that jus t to win their sympathy. However, after the election, everything is changed. Their positions propel the people to revere them and treat them in a pedestal which I think for me is illogical because in the very first place, they are public servants not kings or queens. However, this is the reality today. They are public servants by name because they use their positions to attain their personal vested interest because of the wide coverage of their authority particularly the local chief executives from provincial, city, municipal, and barangay level. Destruction of natural resources is attributed to the abuse of power of the local chief executives. Take for instance, illegal loggings, mining and other activities that require the approval of the local chief executives and his/her legislative members. To supplement the claim, they are not after the welfare of its constituents but for their welfare by exhausting the public chest, diversion of funds and projects only good in promises. These are just some of the observable realities in our society. After work, the public servants by name, they will bring into them the authority inherent on their position thus exercising it even outside the office. As I understood, the authority has only its effect during office hours in the case of the government employees. Beyond that hour, it ceases. However, there are really heads who abuse their authority commanding and requesting their subordinates for personal concerns. Of course as subordinate, he/she doesnt have a choice but to give in on the concern of the head especially if the employee is not a permanent, if not, as office hours will commence, he/she will be reprimanded by the latter and worst, might be the end of his/her work. Imagine, beyond office hours, these individuals are still exercising their power which for me I think is not reasonable. On the case of public servants by action, it is indeed very far from the former for its gives life to the existence of the agency and values public welfare as first priority than their selves. In addition, these are workers who perform their tasks with the internalization of its responsibilities and obligations thus, extending public service with the satisfaction on the clients part. Performing their job effectively, satisfactorily and efficiently is their motivation and source of satisfaction. Aside from that, they work even without the presence or close supervision of their heads and they can be trusted and exhibit attitudes prescribed by the code of ethics in government service. In the office, they will not leave their post if without a necessity to do so. They cater the needs of walk-in clients through humility and not on superiority. Through this, clients can appreciate the open hands of the office and conclude that not all government offices are like in the first category. Furthermore, professionalism in performing the job is

highly observed and majoritys welfare is stressed out than personal. On the contrary, the sad reality is that they are only few and outnumbered by the preceding category. After office hours, these are the workers who extend help in situations that required their expertise without thinking any rewards in return, thus motivated by the virtue of volunteerism spirit. Further, they did not bring with them the authority of their positions and did not wear the mask of public servant to evade compromising the resting hours of their colleagues or subordinates. The beauty of these workers is that they will utilize government properties like vehicles during only office hours and turn it over to the agency after office and refrain from bringing office properties to their vicinities. Even government officials, they know the demarcation of their personal and official properties and conscious on the limitations of their authority. They value and imbibe on their lives the meaning of the Regulative code of ethics curtailing them from doing acts violating the rules prescribed by the Civil Service Commission, thus, upholds the ethos of transparency, accountability, predictability, and participatory administration of policies in opposition to graft and corruption. Although, the Aquino administration is very sincere enough on its campaign against graft and corruption, in some way or another, it turned out the battle to be personal because the current administration is trying to displace its aberrancies and lapses to the former government to excuse itself from the critical public. However, the public is no longer convinced with the excuses for according to them, just focus on the future plans of the government and dont look backward for it will only waste money, efforts and time of the administration. In conclusion, Indeed no matter how the mask of public servant asserts it norms and rules it possessed, at the end of the day, its the persons desires and needs behind the mask will prevail regardless of its consequences. The greatest question is not on who performs better, but rather the question is on where did you belong among the 2 categories of public servant? Its only you and God who know the answer of this critical question.