When President Duterte advised his son Paolo, the vice-mayor of Davao City regarding the latter’s plan to resign from public office, he simply said, “Do what is right”.
Doing what is right can only be achieved if one is conscious between what is right from wrong. Having worked in the private sector before joining the government has made me aware that it’s more difficult to address the grey areas of decision making in the public compared to private companies. When I used to be in the academe and the private sector, I scorned at every inept decision made by our public officials. (I still do, but that’s a different story altogether.) The level of accountability is far heavier and higher in government compared to private corporations.
Today, I am more understanding, a bit more patient, and yes, working for the government for the last 11 1/2 months has provided the insight and enlightenment I needed. Believe me when I say that describing the bureaucracy as “being complicated” is an understatement.
Government workers and officials work under the public’s microscope. Everyone is your boss. If there are skeletons in your closet, this is not the kind of job you’d want to be in, no matter how noble your intentions are. As a public official, dirty linen when washed in public can be taken out of context, feasted upon by social and mainstream media, and your lives are not the same any more. More often than not, the public official is the bad guy and private Juan is the underdog.
Duterte is correct. The stress is not commensurate to the pay.
Why then work for the government?
I’d like to believe the reason why many people work for the government is because they see the opportunity at improving each agency they serve. Let’s face it, even the crocodiles we complain about in government are present in the private sector. We just don’t complain as much when Globe Telecom fucks up our bills by overcharging us by P200 or when Citibank lets us know that beginning a few months from now, all credit cards will have annual dues or when Philippine Airlines decides to downgrade the plane and your original seat on Premium Economy Class is pushed to the back of the plane. That’s because it’s easy for these private corporations to internally change the rules of the game, making the same crocodiles look like lizards. Give the whining idiots additional perks or freebies and shut the mother fuckers up! That, my dear friends is how these companies fix their problems. Unfortunately, the government cannot offer more than an apology and the promise to fix your problems because they are accountable to other agencies in the government. Any free offer and it’s considered a bribe. Even good people are swallowed up in the complicated web of bureaucracy. There are no shades of grey in the government. It’s either black or white. And fuck shit that!
Today marks the last day of 2017. Reflecting on a year that was, we make resolutions for 2018. Another year of change. A chance to “do what is right”, whether we work for the government or for the private sector. Or simply turning a new leaf with our families, our love life, our responsibilities and obligations.
Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Doing what is right. Not what is easy.