Thursday, September 30, 2004

Act of Attrition

Yesterday was the last day of our dear colleague Bryan San Juan in the Presidential Management Staff. He has formally been seconded to the Philippine Information Agency, under the auspices of Dir. Dennis Ting.

This brings me to thinking what will happen to our dear office now that we are not allowed to hire additional staff due to Office Order No. 115 and Administrative Order 103, in lieu of the freaking austerity measures of the government. OO 115 and AO 103 both state that section 3 of the Attrition Law shall be implemented. Section 3 provides that no one shall fill-up vacated positions by reason of retirement, resignation, termination, etc. This problem has recently been solved by our Director. He brought some justifications in order for us to hire more staff. And it was somehow approved in principle by the Acting Head. Okey, that just solved the problem.

Furthermore, it also brought to my attention the future of our beloved government. At present, the above-mentioned provision and many other provisions are part of a compendium of austerity measures to help balance the burgeoning budget deficit. Personally, I think this strategy will lead to nowhere.

The release of OO 115 in a way infuriated me. I thought the fiscal reform package and the austerity measures are to be done in a "Robin Hood" fashion. “Take from the rich, and give to the poor.” However, it seems that these austerity measures affect the ordinary individuals more.

Okey, I will not go to the macro perspective. I will just look at the bureaucracy as an example. As part of OO 115, we shall no longer be given overtime pay, but instead we shall be given the benefit to offset our rendered overtime. NO MORE OVERTIME PAY?! The PMS sometimes, if not always, requires its staff to work extra hours in the evening, or worse, during weekends, holidays, or even during CALAMITIES!!! Taking away the small benefit of an overtime pay (I will not go into the details of how it is computed...) would somehow dishearten us and hamper the motivation to go the "extra mile" to work for the Presidency... Let's admit it. Kahit pakunswelo-de-bobo lang ang overtime pay natin, malaking tulong pa rin yan lalo na sa maliliit na empleyado.

Another thing... OO 115 took away our per diem in team building activities. For Christ's sake, team building only happens once a year!!! And this is the only time where people get to unwind after a year of death-defying phone conversations, ocular inspections, project evaluations, and many other tasks that the PMS undertakes in order to support the Presidency. Another "consuelo de bobo" stripped from our pockets... Or even the small privilege to go to the beach or to some place cozy to release yearly tension was taken away.

Not just financial rewards. Even an environment conducive to work and concentration is slowly being deprived from our already poorly-furnished workstations. The Office Order suggests that air conditioning units be switched off from 11:30 and switched on again at 1:30. I think it is better if the administration just tells us directly to suffocate ourselves, and then we shall put plastics in our heads. That will make the job easier and faster. According to electronics experts, switching off the air conditioning doesn't help in the conservation of energy because much energy is consumed during the starting phase of the process. So much for energy conservation.

I have nothing against austerity measures or reform packages, or anything that has to do with helping the government rise from the pit it is currently in. What I despise is the apparent one-sided effort of the government in implementing these measures. While us bureaucrats, permanents, careers, TRUE public servants sacrifice in this austerity plan, these appointed, temporary, big time government officials do not share or contribute in this effort.

I just don't like the thought that while I was stripped of two of my sources of funding for my Friday night dinners with my lady, our BELOVED politicians are profligately spending tax payer's money like it was their own. Not to mention purchases of high-octane gas for "The Jetsetter's" provioncial visits, extravagant representation allowances of Escort-service-happy Presidents, CEOs and Chairmen of GOCCs, very high salaries of low-output GOCCs, Cellular phone bills as if they had phone pals from Fiji, and many many other unliquidated expenditures. The sadder part is that though half of the literate population of the Philippines knows about these "phenomena," it seems that no one has ever been sacked for it. I just don't like the thought that other people, especially the "blessed ones," do not feel the crisis.

Facing the crisis squarely should be a concerted and unified effort for the ENTIRE government institution, including officials and executives. Sacrifice must not only come from the rank-and-file public servants, it should more importantly come from the higher ups. Again, it all boils down to “leadership by example.”

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