Ethics and Accountability in the Philippine Public Service: Role of Citizens, Public Officials, Private Sector and Civil Society

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“Ethics and Accountability in the Philippine Public Service: Role of Citizens, Public Officials, Private Sector and Civil Society

In my previous paper, I mentioned that values are as important in our government system as the other functions and political processes are. Unit VI discussed how crucial and vital ethics and accountability is in our government. It also talks about the significance of our own moral code, seeing that public ethics are part of the overall value system, and is culture as well as country-specific. Politicians and public servants especially those in high positions are hailed as models of integrity, and the public expects nothing more but honor and morality from them since they were elected or appointed to that public office. Have you heard of the saying “Public office is public trust?” It means that, since the citizens found you worthy and collectively agreed to entrust and grant you with power and authority over them, you owe it to them to put it to good use, the control and use of information and resources, to act for and in behalf of them and to put their welfare first before any personal interests. There are provisions and code of conduct which deals with that, grounded on ethics and accountability. Ethics and accountability means so much for public officials, both appointed and elected by the Philippine government. Ethics serve as a guide for behavior of people in public service, a common reference point and a unifying thread. Simply put, it is the notion of right and wrong. However, something right and trivial for normal citizens might not be so negligible when done by a public official. A businessman can treat his family to Hawaii for a two-month vacation, and people wouldn’t so much as lift an eyebrow, but if a public official has done that, it would surely cause uproar. It is a sad thing, that citizens have such double-standards when it comes to our state yet you can’t really blame them. When they elected you, they expected you to be a model of morality, to be someone with unswerving loyalty in our country, and to put everyone else’s welfare before yours. Though the core values may be different depending on what function you are performing or what phase of the political process you’re in, the general values are common, to treat citizens with respect, fairness and integrity, to be impartial and reasonable in your actions and to ensure accountability , effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of service. Accountability is not an entirely different matter. As we all know, accountability is one of the four pillars of governance. It states that the person in charge or responsible for the action should be held liable on the effects and consequences of that action. It is a condition in which the individuals who exercise power are restrained by external means and by internal norms to abide to the standard behavior. The administrator in charge and who issued the order would account for his stewardship or resources or authority when the time comes that an institutions of a system of checks and balances inspect their organization. There is an appropriate provision in the Philippine Constitution which sets the standards of behavior for public officials. It is the Constitutional Provisions. According to the 1987 Constitution, Article XI Section 1: Accountability of public officers Public Office is public trust, Public Officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives It means that public officials and employees should be accountable to the people, not just sometimes, or most of the time but all the time. They must give it their all in order to serve them properly and effectively and put our citizen’s welfare first before anything else. Another law which served to enforce proper behavior in our public...
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