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Time to pretend again soon


In our country where political leadership is geographically bounded, everything that happens within his/her area of administrative and supervisory jurisdiction and control is his accountability as a matter of organizational principle. And because public leadership is scaled, graded, and parceled according to areas of authority, responsibility, function, and accountability, each public official operates within this explicitly defined and demarcated sphere of governance.

The span of leadership and administration is politically defined according to the prescribed criteria in the local government code. Within this delimited domain of management, the leader at the helm carries the full burden of blame for every untoward incident that occurs under his watch. While it may be argued that accountability and responsibility should be collectively shared by those who wield power and authority, the top executive is ultimately the person that should shoulder overall organizational culpability. Accountability is tied up vertically from the base to the apex of the authority pyramid.

A clear case in point is the position of a public Chief Executive whose functions are well defined under the Local Government Code of 1991. In carrying out or accomplishing these functions, he is compensated or given the salary according to the classification of the political subdivision he has been elected to govern. For this, he campaigned tooth and nail to get elected as the supreme political leader of this government unit. He is therefore, expected by the general public to serve to the best of his ability, with all honesty, and according to the standards of performance set to entitle him to receive the salary and allowances inherent in the position he occupies. He occupies a position of trust and honor hence, the title “Honorable” is attached to his name. Being the highest executive of the city, he also receives the highest salary and enjoys many other financial privileges courtesy of the taxpaying inhabitants of the city. Organizationally, he is the highest paid local public servant. Everything he does within the required 8-hour official duty is a task that is duly paid for. If he renders service beyond the official time, he is also compensated according to the legally approved rate of overtime pay. Hierarchically, he is the highest paid laborer of the taxpayers. That is why everything that happens within his area of responsibility and authority, good or bad, is attributable to his leadership. He cannot pass on the blame or credit to anyone else. That is the prize of public leadership. The public expects the kind of service commensurate to the salary that the servant receives. That’s the standard salary-service equation in an entirely tax-subsidized and operated government entity.

Because the public Chief Executive does not serve pro bono, he is first and foremost a salaried employee. Logically, any taxpayer who has contributed for his salary and other financial privileges has the right to demand the kind of public service he deserves. This is also true to all the other public officials whose salaries and allowances are shouldered by the taxpayers. At all times, they are mandated and expected to attend to the needs and problems of the general public. Unfortunately, this is not what we experience in the day-to-day political reality of this city. Just few days after these public officials assumed their respective positions, a large number of those who promised the voters to attend to their needs and deliver the best public service possible to the communities they represent, are now so difficult to find in their offices. There are however, few who really work and exemplify the true meaning of public service. These are the ones who deserve to be re-elected, commended, respected, and trusted.

By the way when was the last time these political officials visited Licomo, Limpapa, and Sacol Island? Within their 3-year term, how many times did they sit down with the farmers or barangay residents they represent to discuss, consult, confer, listen, and offer their helping hands to solve urgent problems? What do the score cards of these political officials factually reveal? Ask the residents of the 98 barangays to rate secretly on a scale of one to ten to find out how each one fairs. In all certainty, most of them will cluster below the passing grade.

The situation becomes entirely different when elections are fast approaching. Instantly they become donors, patrons, sponsors, and all-time charitable individuals. They’ll even donate funds owned by the taxpayers. As usual, they will again pretend to be the most concerned, caring, self-sacrificing, respectful, and admirable people on earth. Soon they will be frequenting the rural communities again, shaking hands, carrying babies and children, dining with the poorest of the poor with their bare hands, drinking tuba with the canto boys in the sari-sari stores, and asking the folks what their problems are and what they can do to help the barangays develop and improve faster. This political comedy is staged as often as elections are held.

Time to pretend again soon! In fact some of them are already seen quite often in your neighborhood. Expect them to be more helpful, friendly, and more generous this coming new year.

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