Considering its length and the wide curiosity and anticipation that it generated prior to his delivery, Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s “bomb of a speech” turned out to be a dud. Sure, it had sound bytes but for all its length, it was all sound and fury that could be summarized in three short sentences: “Why single us out? What about you guys? None of us is spotless. ” Or in Filipino: “Bakit kami lang? Di ba kayo din? Wala sa atin ang malinis.”
So the Senator tried to excoriate his colleagues, berating them for practicing “selective justice” but in the process, he also managed to convey that he, too, is capable of selective disclosure. So what was the P50 million really—was it a bribe or not to convict/impeach Renato Corona? It doesn’t really matter whether the money was delivered before or after the fact—what is disappointing is the Senator’s pivot/turnaround/backtracking in the process of interpellation by Senate President Franklin Drilon who, by the way, is not as pork-pure according to former Tesda chief and ex-congressman Augusto “Buboy” Syjuco.
If anything, the part that resonated the most with many is Jinggoy’s admission of a rotten system that has victimized all of us: “We all here are victims of a flawed system which is so ingrained that it has been institutionalized.”
It’s also unfortunate that Senator Jinggoy’s gripe session about being having his name repeatedly mentioned only gave some of his colleagues additional ammunition, because now he is being obliquely referred to as “the one who should not be named”—whose intent is very obvious if you are a fan of J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter.
But to be fair, we have to admit that the Senator is right—it should not only be their troika (Revilla, Estrada, Enrile) that should be scrutinized with regards to the use of the pork. If we at Happy Hour had our way—each and every one of these rascals should be pilloried and hoist in his own petard.
The essence of civil service
The 113th anniversary of the Civil Service Commission has come and gone (although the celebration is month long) but only a few of us ordinary folks got wind of it, much less realize the significance or importance of having civil servants. While the common perception paints civil servants/government employees as red-tape loving bureaucrats who spend more time wasting their time and the public’s time, there are many out there who quietly and efficiently do their work with honesty and dedication.
Interestingly, FutureGov’s James Smith lauded Filipino civil servants, writing in one of his more recent columns that despite the “legislative logjam, tightly circumscribed agency responsibilities, threadbare public finances, directed by a polity that is unencumbered by ideology, mission or conviction… the men and women of the Philippines’ public sector deserve their day each year, and much more besides.” Despite the handicaps, Smith notes, Filipino public servants still perform wonders and rise to the occasion time and time again.”
Indeed, the honest guys in government deserve more than just a free ride on the MRT and LRT, free entrance to government-run museums and discounts at some fastfood chains and malls. Many of them literally risk their lives to do their jobs, like the soldiers tamping down the belligerent MNLF-Misuari faction and the teachers who spend their own money buying chalk, cartolina and other school materials, traveling by boat to reach that far-flung schoolhouse where they are assigned, and yes, resist the bullies who snatch ballots during elections.
Teachers, policemen and soldiers literally put their lives on the line every election especially in the past where those who had the guns, goons and gold ruled because it was easier for them to cheat during elections—which makes poll automation even more essential. Smith note not with little admiration that alongside India, the Philippines has become a world leader in e-voting, further noting the automation in many vital offices (such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue for instance and Pag-IBIG which runs one of the world’s largest SAP or systems applications and products databases in the world), noting that many offices are poised to deploy kiosk-based services throughout the country.
Technology is the wave and the way to the future—and it’s about time local governments started utilizing technology—custom technology to be exact—to fulfill their missions and mandates with more competence and efficiency. Who knows, LGUs might even turn their parochial fiefdoms into smart cities with the aid of smart technologies and solutions.
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