You are wrong! Again!

President Rodrigo Duterte said he is willing to forego the eligibility requirements for government officials as long as they are competent and honest.

– ABS-CBN News, December 12, 2018
There is a reason for eligibility requirements.  As in any professional line of work, eligibility is the primary qualifier before you even hire anyone.  During a speech at the awarding of housing units to Scout Rangers in San Miguel, Bulacan, the president said, “whoever comes to his mind during his term, as long as they are competent and honest, are enough qualifications for him.”

That’s if he actually knows the people he puts into office.  With several appointments at his disposal, it is impossible that he personally vets all these people.  From the lowly government official to the cabinet members. That would require too much time and effort from him. The preference in the selection of the people he can appoint, are after all, his.  The caveat here is – so should the ultimate responsibility and accountability of both success and failure!  

Competence and honesty are relative terms.  On the other hand, eligibility are standards that need to be met before someone can even be considered for a position.  This means that the person needs to satisfy appropriate conditions. Competence is the ability to do something efficiently.  If the person lacks eligibility, how can one be competent? Eligibility, after all, is a mandatory requirement and is an act of due diligence. 

There are only three reasons why there are those who will refuse to acknowledge eligibility requirements when vetting qualified people for work.  

  • They are lazy.  When one is lazy, the preference is to do things quickly.  Never mind having to pore all through the documentary requirements and checklist of the applicant or the appointee.  All that reading material isn’t in the DNA of the appointer. 
  • They prefer to bend rules because they have preferences. In short, whether they are qualified or not, come hell or high water, they will insist on their friends and relatives. Never mind if they are eligible or not. After all, “competence and honesty” is on their side.  One can be honest and competent, but isn’t qualified for the job description.  Hire a nurse to run the Bureau of Customs or a pilot to run the Department of Health.  There are highly technical agencies that will need someone who is at least a licensed professional with managerial skills and experience. How can you even consider hiring someone who is a fresh graduate with the necessary degree but is either not yet licensed or God forbid, has no experience at all for that particular job?
  • The appointing person is incompetent.  Aside from the fact that laziness is in his genes, he’s most likely incompetent for the position of being the big boss as well.  His selection methods are archaic and finding a reason to obscure the rules of appointing ELIGIBLE people who are competent and honest really needs a lot of work.  No one ever said that the job would be easy.  But I guess some people are used to getting their jobs in government through elections.  They get voted into office with minimum eligibility requirements – being a Filipino citizen, fulfilling age limits, and has resided in that area for at least a certain period of time.  

Civil servants are accountable to the citizens of the nation.  The taxes we pay after all should redound to better and efficient service.  But it can only be done if the people are FIRST AND FOREMOST eligible.  Otherwise, ineligible people end up as ON THE JOB TRAINEES for managerial positions who at the whim of the president, should be appointed into office.

Eligibility is about placing guardrails on qualifications for positions that can be potentially abused by appointing authorities and their ilk through benefactors. It may not be perfect, but a checklist of standards for the particular position applied for should be met. Bluntly, it provides quality to any project, business or government. The competence and honesty will always be a bonus when the applicants are head to head in the final choice.

To neglect eligibility is tantamount to abolishing the civil service commission. It is a bad precedent. A recipe for disaster in governance. Conflicts of interest rise out of the ashes. Rationalizing corrupt practices for the benefit of the appointing authority becomes the rule rather than its exception.

For the second time in a row, you are wrong! Again!

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