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Why talk of ethics only now?


There are so many things that public officials should avoid claiming or using to advertize themselves or keep themselves in the limelight. We have been writing about these unethical activities and habits of some guilty public officials to the point of being called “wise monkeys” or other derogatory names which are usually uttered in a fit of anger or emotional outburst.

Repeatedly in the past, we wrote so many articles intended to remind them that “public office is a public trust.” That being a public servant, he/she is morally and legally bound to conduct himself/herself strictly in accordance with the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, otherwise known as Republic Act 6713. The primary purpose of this law is to “promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees at all times be accountable to the people and shall 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.”

To our frustration, however, many of our incumbent officials tend to disregard, take for granted, deliberately avoid, or cunningly circumvent this law acting as if they alone have the ultimate authority or power to decide which is moral, legal, or ethical. This reverses completely the “rule of law” to the “rule of man.”  So despite our persistent reminders which were largely taken to mean as affronts against their dignity, threatening their political stability, or envious of their power possession, they continue blatantly and with impunity their unethical activities most particularly the following:

l. using public vehicles as their mobile advertisement equipment where they print their names as Mayor  Governor, Senator,  Congressman or Congresswoman, etc;

2.using public vehicles where they print acronyms equivalent to their names or nicknames;

3.using public works such as bridges, overpasses, buildings, parks, or other infrastructures  where they can prominently print, inscribe, or engrave for eternity their names as the incumbent public officials when the projects were undertaken;  and

4. using billboards, porters, tarpaulins, and other propaganda materials to be erected  at project sites of public works highlighting their names in bold letters as the incumbent  executives when the projects were undertaken;

There are many clever and tricky ways and tactics that incumbent officials employ to violate or go around Republic Act 6713, which to them is nothing but a piece of highly disposable and degradable piece of paper, and therefore, should not be given any legal importance. Now there’s a bill being filed by Senator Santiago, Bill No. 1967 which aims to stop public officials from claiming credit for projects funded by taxpayers’ money. To me this bill is not only unnecessary but also a redundancy.  Republic Act 6713 is more than enough to regulate the ethical conduct and activities of public officials and employees if seriously followed and implemented.

By the way, why are you talking of ethics in public service only now? This should have been done from the day Republic Act 6713 was approved on February 20, 1989… or from the time you first held a copy of this law. Don’t you think the crowing is rather late in the day? Anyway, “ late is still better than  never” as the old saying goes.

By Clem M. Bascar

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