Wednesday, October 14, 2009

“service to citizens”

Say the word “service” and what immediately comes to mind is something good being done, something beneficial and opportune being rendered. In general, the term to “serve” means to carry out a duty, to perform a given function or simply to be a servant to someone or others. For someone to be done something good by another, for somebody to be recipient of anything beneficial – this cannot but make the one served grateful and the one serving appreciated by the former. This truth is more known and felt among Filipinos with special significance and implication – considering their deeply ingrained culture of respect and gratitude as inculcated by the elders and insistently taught to children by their parents and teachers in the context of loving neighbors.

And the mere mention of “citizens” intuitively brings to fore the pairing of private individuals and public officials, the relation between the civic community and the State, the interaction between their constituents and the political community – whereby it is readily understood and assumed that the former is served by the latter. It is a big and profound social anomaly in the course of governance when the servers become the masters, when the public servants act as big bosses, thereby making the citizens – who after all are their true employers – nothing less than more their hirelings, nothing less that their butlers and maids.

As squarely premised on ethical principles and moral norms, the standing Social Doctrine of the Church clearly says: As an instrument of the State, public administration at any level in the national, regional and local community, is oriented towards the service of citizens” (# 492). Its decided version under the present government conveniently reads as follows: As a State policy, citizens in their national, regional and local levels are geared for the service of the State through the government. It has been this way some eight long years before and will continue in the same way possible even after 2010.

From the womb to the tomb, the Filipino citizens have been since then rendering service to the State through the government by their indirect and direct taxes. In fact, the government makes and obtains big local and huge foreign loans to spend usually as it wants and decides – with the Filipino citizens of this generation and those born thereafter, obliged to pay for them with one sovereign guarantee after another. This must be fun unlimited: The public administration seeks and incurs the debt, spends this at will, while the private citizens are bound to pay for it all!

That this government lords it over while the Filipinos are but subservient citizens – this weird reality was even amply demonstrated by the devastating typhoon “Ondoy”. Leading public officials together with their Supreme Commander were shouting these and those orders, barking instructions every now and then. Meantime, truth to tell, most of the search and relief work were immediately and generously done by the private initiatives, by private citizens, by private companies and private corporations. Is there a need to say more?

October 14, 2009