I waited for Senator Manny”Pac-Man” Pacquiao’s exposé on corruption in various government agencies before writing about what I experienced about corruption in government at the level of a public educational institution. Corrupt government employees are socio-psychopaths. Most of them have a distorted sense of values. They’re engaged in corrupt practices but like to think they’re doing the institution they’re part of a lot of good. It’s about the image they have of themselves in their heads and what they project.
The Vice-President for Administration and Finance in that institution was clearly not qualified for her post. Why? Her undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Arts. Her postgraduate degrees had nothing to do with either administration or finance. But she was very close to a former Mayor with a one syllable surname. She was slated to become the President of the institution but didn’t get the appointment because her political patron lost in the election. Her group was the largest faction in the institution. They had the most rackets going under the supervision of their syndicate members but it was hard to get evidence because she controlled the two divisions where the evidence could be found.
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Another form of corruption is the promotion of unqualified individuals by non-adherence to human resource actions under the Civil Service Code. You have a situation where you have full-time faculty members who are inarticulate. An example is a faculty member whose undergraduate degree is Architecture with a Master’s degree in Public Administration teaching Physical Education. Inarticulation is prohibited by both the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Higher Education.
Then you have the money-making ventures such as the pocketing of tuition and other fees for off-campus programs under the graduate school. The “package” includes a ready-made thesis with a passing grade. These are offered to government employees who have to continue with their education in order to qualify for the next higher plantilla position. It used to be that there would be no increase in pay without a promotion but the salary standardization law corrected this error with annual step increases based on the formula provided for.
In a local city university where everything is supposed to be provided for free, students are asked to pay for ID cards, Physical Education (PE) and National Service Training Program (NSTP) uniforms, the purchase of textbooks written by faculty members themselves, food and drink from a canteen concessionaire whose patrons hold office at City Hall. There is also the improper disbursement of grants from Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and other non-goverment organisations (NGOs) or aid organizations.
Most employees aren’t qualified for their jobs either. Those who don’t have civil service eligibility are lumped into Administrative Aide I and II positions. Their income is augmented by having them take post-graduate studies in the same institution where they are sure to pass. Upon “completion” of their studies, they then become part-time instructors in minor subjects such as NSTP. Their teaching loads augment the low pay from their plantilla positions. The employees who try to expose these corrupt practices usually become pariahs. They are the object of white paper exposés sent to the gods at City Hall. Each college’s Dean and his faculty members also have rackets going on specially in Health Sciences, Engineering and Criminology.
If you’re wondering why public education is in such a sorry state, this is why. But the rot doesn’t end there. The rot has reached private educational institutions as well. This is why our students have fallen behind Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Just the other day, it was a World Bank study which called attention to the deteriorating situation in the education sector. Even if you have the evidence, filing the case and seeing it through at the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan is a tedious process. Just look at the cases filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against the Marcos cronies as an example.
In short, it’s easy to say that there is corruption in government but it is hard to prove. While I don’t begrudge the effort of Pac-Man, it’s clear that his is not a sincere effort but more of catching the public’s attention for his political plans. Minimizing corruption in government needs a radical solution. Digitization is the solution but given the size of the bureaucracy and our political structure, it’s hard to implement it. It is easier to replace the bureaucracy wholesale than pursue cases against the guilty. This is why we should not be fooled by motherhood statements coming from candidates for 2022. They need to have a specific plan of action. Otherwise, talk is cheap and evidence is not easy to collect.
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